Spelthorne Hundred: Hampton Court Palace, churches

Pages 388-389

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN was opened for divine service in 1831, and succeeded a building which was entirely taken down in 1829. This had a mediaeval chancel of flint and stone, a nave with north and south aisles (the former built in 1726), a south porch, a west tower built in 1679, a building on the north side of the church which communicated with the north aisle, and which was used as the parish school, and a vestry at the northwest, built in 1726. There was a wooden turret on the north-east corner of the tower in which was hung a small bell, and in the bell-chamber were six bells which had been recast in the reign of Charles II; there were galleries in the church on the north, south, and west sides, and in addition at the west end was a singing loft. There was a three-decker pulpit and a royal pew at the front of the north gallery.

The present church is a very unattractive product of the Gothic revival, rectangular in plan, 63 ft. long by 66 ft. wide, with north and south aisles; at the east end is a modern sacristy, at the west end a tower, under which is the principal entrance, and to the north and south other entrances, with staircases leading to the galleries. There is a vestry at the east end of the south aisle, and the body of the church is under one lowpitched roof. It is built of brickwork.

In the north entrance lobby is the effigy, under a canopy supported by Corinthian pillars, of Sibell Penn, daughter of William Hampden of Dunton, who was nurse to Edward VI, and died in 1562. On the base of the tomb are the arms of Penn, Argent a fesse sable with three roundels argent thereon, separately and impaling the Hampden coat. The tomb is simple but of excellent detail, with a fine strapwork soffit to the canopy, and an inscription of ten rhymed couplets on a panel at the back. The effigy is well wrought, but curiously stiff, in a long straight-sided gown with side pockets and a short cloak over the shoulders. It is the ghost of this lady, dressed exactly as she appears on her tomb, which is said to haunt a certain part of Hampton Court to this day. In the church are many mural tablets, the most interesting being an undated one to Edmund Pigeon, yeoman of the Jewel House to Henry VIII and Clerk of the Robes to Elizabeth; another to his son, who succeeded him and died in 1619; to Thomas Smithesby of the Inner Temple, Keeper of the Privy Seal under the Protectorate, died 1655; a restored monument to Huntingdon Shaw, 1710, who worked under Jean Tijou on the well-known wrought-iron gates and screens at Hampton Court; and one at the east end of the south aisle to Susanna Thomas, 1731, daughter and heiress of Sir Dalby Thomas, Governor of the African Company's settlements.

There are eight bells in the tower by Mears, 1831.

The plate consists of a communion cup of 1704, a cup and flagon of 1820, a cup of 1836 presented by Edward Johnson in 1845, two salvers of 1828, and a modern silver-gilt chalice and paten.

Of the registers, Book i contains baptisms 1554 to 1656, and burials 1554 to 1650; Book ii baptisms 1656 to 1725, marriages 1657 to 1703, and burials 1656 to 1677; Book iii baptisms 1726 to 1749, marriages 1726 to 1754, and burials 1726 to 1768; and Book iv baptisms 1656 to 1812. The fifth is the printed marriage register, 1754 to 1812, and the sixth contains burials 1768 to 1812.

The church of ST. JOHN, HAMPTON WICK, was built at the same time as the parish church of Hampton, and was intended as a chapel of ease to it; upon its completion, however, the district was made a separate parish. It is a plain building of yellow brick with stone dressings consisting of a rectangular nave and chancel with side galleries, and is in the same spiritless Gothic style as Hampton Church. The register of baptisms dates from 1831 and of marriages from 1832.

The church of ST. JAMES, HAMPTON HILL, built in 1863 and enlarged in 1878, is of red brick in 13th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, organ chamber, south porch, and embattled tower at the southwestern angle with pinnacles and spire, and containing four bells. The register dates from 1863.