Chelsea Old Church: Church fittings

Survey of London: Volume 7, Chelsea, Part III: the Old Church. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1921.

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'Chelsea Old Church: Church fittings', Survey of London: Volume 7, Chelsea, Part III: the Old Church, (London, 1921), pp. 5-13. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

. "Chelsea Old Church: Church fittings", in Survey of London: Volume 7, Chelsea, Part III: the Old Church, (London, 1921) 5-13. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

. "Chelsea Old Church: Church fittings", Survey of London: Volume 7, Chelsea, Part III: the Old Church, (London, 1921). 5-13. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,


The great interest attaching to the old church proceeds in a large degree from the number and beauty of its monuments to the past inhabitants of the riverside village, and also to its numerous interesting fittings. These latter will now be described in alphabetical order.

1. Bells.

The peal of bells placed in the tower at the rebuilding of 1670 was recast in 1762, and bore the following inscriptions:

Tenor—Di[vo] Lucæ Medico Evangelico Balduinus Hamey Phil Evangelicus Medicus D.D.D. 1678. Recast in the year 1762. Robert Yates and Richard Davis C.H. Wardens. Thomas Janaway of London made us all.

7th.—Robt Yates & Richd Davis C.H. Wardens 1762 T. J. Fecit. Slone Ellsmere Rector D.D.

6th.—Thos Janaway of London made us all 1762.

5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and Treble.—Thomas Janaway of London fecit 1762.

Of these only No. 4 remains; the rest were sold in 1824. A bell given by the Hon. William Ashburnham, who left money for ringing it every night at 9 o'clock, is preserved in the ground stage of the tower (Plate 23.) The ringing was discontinued in 1822. The bell is inscribed:


2. Books.

In the south aisle is an oak bookcase and desk, to which are chained the following books—the gift of Sir Hans Sloane: "Vinegar" Bible (Baskett's Edition of 1717), several pages missing; Fox's Martyrs (Vols. 1 and 3 only) (Ninth Edition, 1684); Homilies (1683). These have the autograph of Sir Jonathan Trelawny, Bishop of Winchester. Prayer Book (1723).

The Registers date from 1559, and are preserved at the Parish church.

3. Brasses.

The brasses from the monument to Sir Arthur Gorges, and those attached to the Duchess of Northumberland's tomb are described under "Monuments."

A Purbeck slab in the floor of the chancel (north side) shows the matrix of the brass of a priest. (See Plate 39.) This is probably for either Thomas Shalers (died 1451) or William Massenger (died 1470), rectors buried at Chelsea.

A Purbeck slab in the floor of the chancel beneath the arch leading to the Lawrence Chapel shows the matrix of the brass effigy of a man in armour and that of his wife, with scrolls issuing from their mouths and four shields of arms. It has been suggested that this marks the grave of Sir Henry Waver, Sheriff of the City of London in 1465. He was chosen alderman, during his shrievalty, for Castle Baynard Ward and afterwards of Bishopsgate Ward. He is described as a draper, and was made a Knight of the Bath on the occasion of the coronation of Elizabeth Woodville, consort to Edward IV (fn. 1). He died in 1470, and bequeathed his body to be buried in the Church of St. Peter, in Cornhill, before the image of St. George there, but there is a 17th-century record in an Harleian (fn. 2) manuscript of the following inscription in Chelsea Church:

ORATE PRO BONO STATV HENRIE WAVER MILITIS ET CRISTINE VXORIS EIVS with the arms given as argent, on a fess sable 3 scallops or, impaled with: 1 and 4, ermine a cheveron sable; 2 and 3, on a fess sable 3 crowns or.


Mr. Robert Chambers (fn. 3) was of opinion that this inscription and coat-of-arms belonged to some painted glass in the church, and considered that the matrix (which he describes as having held a whole length figure in armour with dog at his feet and sword by his side) represented the effigy of John Shoreditch, sometime lord of the manor of Chelsea, who died c. 1407.

Another matrix is to be seen on the tomb of Edmund Lord Bray.

4. Chairs.

Two chairs in the chancel have been constructed of old timber and panelling found in the tower, which were parts of the old pews and furniture of the church.

5. Chests.

A plain rectangular chest with six locks, probably early 17th-century, is preserved in the vestry.

6. Clock.

The clock in the tower is inscribed:
Anno 1761
Edmund Howard

7. Communion Table.

The communion table is of late 17th-century date, and has a moulded top, with six spiral baluster legs, ball feet, and plain rails. (Plate 23.)

8. Communion Rails.

The communion rails are of good design of late 17th-century date. The angles of the enclosure are rounded. The balusters are spiral-turned, with heavily moulded rail and sill. A group of four balusters stand on each side of the centre portion of the rails, which forms a pair of folding gates. (Plate 24.)

9. Doors.

The early 17th-century door in the north wall of the Lawrence Chapel, and the heavy entrance door to the tower, are both preserved.

10. Flags.

The iron standards for four flags project from the east wall of the nave, but two of the colours have disappeared. The remainder are the survivors of a number of flags that were deposited in the church on two separate occasions, the first being the gift of the Ladies of Chelsea (in 1800), and the second by Queen Charlotte (in 1804) to the Volunteers.

The flag belonging to the earlier group appears to have been originally 6 ft. square, but now measures 6 ft.X4 ft. 6 in. It is a red Ensign (with the Jack composed of the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew), and in the centre is a figure of St. Luke embroidered within sprays of foliage bearing roses and thistles. On a scroll beneath are the words:


The other flag, presented by Queen Charlotte, is a Union Jack, 6 ft.X5 ft., with the Royal arms in the centre, and on a scroll the words:


11. Font.

The font is a beautiful octagonal fluted bowl of white marble on a baluster stem (Plates 25 26), and retains its original oak cover, which is octagonal on plan, each side being curved in ogee form to the summit. Enriched gilt ribs mark the angles of the sides, and the whole is surmounted by a dove, and is hung to a carved boss which originally supported one of two chandeliers given by Thomas Frankling and Ester his wife in 1693. The other carved boss is now fixed to the ceiling of the vestibule under the tower. The date of the font is fixed by the following entry in the Parish Register of 1763: "Luke the son of Thomas Gough was baptised the 22d of December, and was the First that was baptised in the new Font given by Mr. Edward Bringhurst." The baluster is fractured and the bowl may have been restored.

12. Gallery.

The present gallery, which is supported on six wooden Doric columns, extends across the whole width of the western end of the nave, and bears the following inscription on the east face:


In the middle panel is a clock with the date 1857. The original structure was much smaller, and its plan is shown by a small wooden template which forms part of the following inscription on the western face:

Plan of the original gallery.

This gallery was erected by the Church Trustees a.d. 1857. REVD. C. KINGSLEY, LL.B., Rector; REVD. R. H. DAVIES, B.A., Incumbent; J. FIELDER & J. PERRY, ESQRS Church Wardens: it replaced a former one planned thus and bearing the Inscription: THIS GALLERY WAS BEAUTIFIED IN THE YEARE OF OUR LORDE 1677

Against the tower are two heavy oak posts (12 in.X9 in.), cased at the gallery level by fluted pilasters with moulded capitals, above which they project in boldly carved cherubs' heads with folded wings over shaped panels. These posts evidently support the roof, and formed part of the original gallery of 1677.

13. Glass.

During restorations in the last century some fragments of 14th or 15th-century glass were found bricked up in the windows of the Lawrence Chapel, and have recently been incorporated in the glass presented by Capt. Clifford J. W. Hoskin and fixed in the window over the vestry door. The work has been carried out by Captain Maurice Drake of Exeter, and a key plan showing the old glass is preserved in the Committee's collection.

14. Hatchments.

(1) Cadogan.—On the east wall of the nave (towards the north) are the arms of Cadogan: Quarterly 1 & 4, gules a lion looking back or; 2 & 3, argent 3 boars' heads cut off at the neck sable (Cadogan) impaling argent, a fret gules, for Blake, with crest and supporters. Motto: Qui Invidet Minor est (1864).

(2) Hatchett.—On the east wall of the nave (towards the south) are the arms of Charles Hatchett: Quarterly 1 & 4, argent, 2 bars, the upper one indented, gules; 2 & 3, gules between 2 flaunches argent 6 crosslets or, on an inescutcheon party palewise or and azure 3 cheverons counter-coloured. Motto: in cœlo quies.

(3) Cadogan.—On the north wall of the nave (towards the east) are the arms of the Rev. the Honourable William Bromley Cadogan. Motto: Christ the Hope of Glory.

(4) Cadogan.—Below the foregoing is another of Cadogan without motto: Impaling quarterly 1 & 4, gules, a cross or between 5 besants on each quarter; 2 & 3, argent a lion gules.

(5) Cremorne.—On the north wall of the nave (towards the west) is a hatchment bearing the arms of Viscount Cremorne (1813): Quarterly 1 & 4, azure, on a bend engrailed or 3 martlets gules; 2 & 3, azure, 3 torches; over all an inescutcheon or, charged with a cheveron and in chief a bar engrailed sable.

(6) Edwards.—Below the foregoing is a hatchment bearing the following arms: Party bendwise sinister ermine and ermines, a lion or (Edwards) impaling gules, a cheveron between 2 molets in chief and a crescent in base or, on a chief azure 3 molets or. Crest: a man's head in profile, helmeted. Motto: A vinno dew Derwid.

(7) Hatchett.—On the south wall of the nave (towards the east) the arms of Hatchett, as in (2).

(8) Cadogan.—Below the foregoing the arms of Cadogan as in (4), but with motto.

(9) Browne.—On the south wall of the nave (towards the west) a hatchment bearing the arms of Browne. Sable, 3 lions passant in bend between 2 cotises argent, in chief a griffon's head erased argent. Impaling sable (or azure), a fess ermine. Motto: resurgam.

15. Hatstand.

Two 18th-century hatstands of wrought iron are fixed to the back pews beneath the gallery.

16. Helm.

A funeral helm, with an eagle's head as crest, is supported on a bracket on the east wall of the More Chapel. The committee have been favoured with a report from Major Victor Farquharson, F.S.A., and Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A., who inspected the helm on 9th October, 1915. They state that it is an original armet of c. 1530, or possibly a little earlier, to which has been added (at the time of the funeral) a beevor and the gorget plate. The armet vizor appears to have had the lower portion cut away, perhaps for vertical bars, which would have been fastened from its lower edge to the chin piece. There is little doubt that it was used at the funeral of Lord Dacre, and belongs to his monument. The helmet is painted and gilt. (Plate 27.)

17. Images.

A figure of St. Luke in oak, gilt (about 12 in. high), holding a book, is now fixed to the south pier of the chancel arch (west face). It is of late 17th-century date, and formerly stood on the sounding-board of the pulpit. Ralph Palmer, in his memoir of Dr. Baldwin Hamey, states that "out of respect to St. Luke and Dr. Hamey, one Fletcher, a favourite servant of the doctor's, gave the little figure of St. Luke which stands upon the rising roof of the pulpit."

18. Inscriptions.

Charitable bequests painted on wood and hung in church.

1. West Wall of gallery. South side:

1798 Samuel Hunton Esqr gave by will One Hundred Pounds, the Interest Arising therefrom, to be Annually
Distributed in Bread and Coals To the Poor of this Parish the Week before Christmas £100

2. On West Wall of Gallery. North side:

L. S. D.
1766 Mr. Charles Larchin gave by will to each of the Charity Schools of this Parish, Ten Pounds 20
1771 Mr. Henry Hewitt gave by will to each of the Charity Schools of this Parish, Twenty Five Pounds 50
1782 William Jousselin Esqr gave by Will to each of the Charity Schools of this Parish, Fifteen Pounds 30
1791 Mrs Sarah Coggs gave by will, to each of the Charity-Schools of this Parish, Twenty Pounds 40

On the North Wall of Tower by the entrance is a grey stone tablet with enriched border and eight bells carved in low relief. (Plate 28.)


This Society Rung February the 18th 1785
5040 bob Major in 3 hours & 15 Mints
being the 1st true PEAL Ever Rung on
These BELLS.
Jas Worster treb
Edwd Simmons 2d
Geo Plowman 3d
Jsrl Johnson 4th
Wm Hallet 5th
Richd Millard 6th
Thos Verren 7th
Wm Faulkner tenr
Calld by James Worster

19. Mace.

The churchwarden's mace of silver with shaped top surmounted by a figure of St. Luke is preserved at the Old Church and is inscribed:

ST LUKE Thomas Simplin
David Eggleton


A replica, silver gilt, at the Parish Church (date mark 1797–8, maker's mark I T), is inscribed:

Joseph Leake
Richard Price



H. Oughton
J. J. Wheeler

October 1884

and on the lower part:

John Fielder Esqr
John Perry

CHURCH WARDENS Repaired 1857

Repaired & parcel gilt by
G. R. Craney ex Churchwarden

18 October 1884

A second replica, silver gilt, also at the Parish Church, bears the names of Thomas Hoblyn and William Deacon, Churchwardens 1829, and repeats the subsequent inscriptions on the above.

There is a silver mounted staff of cane at both churches for the maces.

A silver staff (date 1824) 2 ft. 11 in. long, with knob at one end and moulded head at the other, banded in the centre, is preserved at the Parish Church.

20. Niches.

There is a niche in the east wall of the Lawrence Chapel, to the north of the east window, with cinquefoil cusping beneath a two-centred moulded arch. It is of late 14th-century date, and was probably repeated on the south side of the window.

A plain two-centred arched niche or locker is in the east wall of the chancel north of the altar. It appears to be formed of stones of a lancet window reset. (Plate 33.)

21. Piscina.

The eastern half of the piscina remains in the south wall of the chancel, and has a chamfered four-centred arch and jamb of the 15th century. A groove has been cut for a shelf. The western part was removed to insert the adjacent doorway.

22. Plate.

1. (fn. 4) Flagon, silver gilt, height 11 in., diameter (mouth) 4½ in., (base) 7 in.; date mark 1680–1; maker's mark, I.B. Inscribed under base: Anna Morgan Aprill 3 Anno Domini 1681. and on the side: I H S within a sun in splendour.

2. (fn. 4) Flagon similar to No. 1, with the same inscription.

3. (fn. 4) Alms-dish with moulded rim and foot, silver gilt, diameter 12 ins.; date mark, 1676–7; maker's mark F.S. Inscribed:
to ye use of the
Communion Table in Chelsey
Church in memory of Mrs Elizabeth
Bateman who dyed in yt Parish
2d of August
1675 Etat sue

The inscription is in a lozenge, and in another are the arms: Three crescents, each having a star (molet) between the horns. The dish is further ornamented with feathered scrollwork and a small skull beneath the inscription.


4. (fn. 4) Chalice with baluster stem, silver gilt, height 73/16 in.; diameter of lip 3¾ in.; date mark, 1778–9; maker's mark W.B., inscribed with I H S within the sun's rays.

5. Chalice similar to No. 4.

6. (fn. 4) Paten, with foot and incised rim, silver gilt; date mark, 1624–5; maker's mark F.G.

7. (fn. 5) Spoon, rat-tail pattern, silver gilt, length 73/8 in.; date mark, 1698–9. Inscribed:

The gift of the Revd Charles Sturges 1797.

8. (fn. 5) Alms-dish, pewter with deep scolloped rim, diameter 10¼ in., engraved with the seated figure of St. Luke and bull within a circle.

9 and 10. Two alms-dishes, pewter, similar to No. 8, but without figure of St. Luke, and inscribed:
St. Lukes Chelsea 1754

11 (fn. 5) and 12. (fn. 5) Two alms-dishes, pewter, similar to the last, but dated 1764.

13 and 14. Two similar dishes dated 1784.

23. Pulpit.

The hexagonal pulpit is of late 17th-century date, with rectangular raised panels and bolection mouldings enriched with leaf ornament. Festoons of carved leaf and fruit adorn the angles. The cornice and base are moulded, and it is supported by a trumpet-shaped stem. The stair is modern. It originally possessed a sounding-board on which stood the figure of St. Luke already described. (Plates 29 30.)

24. Royal Arms.

An entry in the Parish Books records the putting up of the King's Arms in 1678. They are painted on wood, and originally formed the centre panel of a gallery in the chancel. They are now hung above the chancel arch in the nave.

25. Seating, etc.

The seating of the church dates from 1858, but a few of the old panelled oak pews remain in the Lawrence Chapel. On one of these is painted a circular medallion with an achievement of arms: Or a lion passant between three tassels gules (? Chestor) impaling azure a bend between 3 birds or. Crest: A hand holding a sword.

Various carved panels are incorporated in the modern seats, and in the chancel are two carved panels showing a mitre in the foliage, which formerly belonged to the pew of the Bishops of Winchester (1718).

A small cabinet (triangular in plan) of marquetry work (c. 1700) has been converted into a prayer desk.

26. Sundial.

The stone sundial built into the southern face of the eastern buttress of the tower is of simple rectangular form, with a plain metal rod and stay as gnomon. It bears the date 1692, and the motto:

27. Weather-vane.

The vane, surmounted by a crown, dates from 1704, as recorded on the inscription stone on the tower (vide ante). (Plate 31.)


  • 1. Aldermen of the City of London, by Rev. A. B. Beaven.
  • 2. An Heraldic book in folio, consisting of coats, pedigrees, and fragments collected by the third Randle Holme (1627–99). Harleian MSS. 2113, folio 114 dorso.
  • 3. Antiquities in the Church of St. Luke, Chelsea, MS. 1816, in Chelsea Public Library.
  • 4. Kept at the Parish Church of St. Luke.
  • 5. Kept at the Parish Church of St. Luke.