A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.
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In the 12th and 13th centuries there was a small church or chapel belonging to the Hospital of St. Bartholomew in the north-west corner of the parish near the village of Elstree, (fn. 1) but the church of Edgware proper is first mentioned in the mid 13th century, when with Kingsbury it was stated to be appropriated to the use of the Knights Hospitallers. (fn. 2) The first substantial grant of land in the parish to the hospital had been made between 1231 and 1238. (fn. 3) There is no mention of the church in the taxation of 1291. The first known chaplain was Saer de Stevenage, whose will, proved in 1375, contained bequests of half a mark to the light of St. Margaret and of a cow towards the upkeep of the church. (fn. 4) In the clerical subsidy of 1428 the church of Kingsbury with the chapel of Edgware is mentioned as being not taxable. (fn. 5) The minister of the parish continued to be described as a chaplain or curate until the 19th century. The benefice was first described as a donative in 1685. (fn. 6) From the 14th century until the beginning of the 20th century, with the exception of a short period centred on 1800, the advowson remained with the holders of the manor of Edgware Boys, who appointed a chaplain or curate. In leases of the manor in 1397, 1506, 1511, and 1522 a condition was that the lessee should provide the chaplain. (fn. 7) After the Dissolution the manor passed through the hands of a number of lay owners, and it was not separated from the gift of the curacy until 1772, when the Earl of Coventry sold the manor to William Lee but apparently retained the presentation. By 1859, however, the gift was in the hands of the lord of the manor, John Lee. (fn. 8) From 1892 ministers were presented by members of the Phelps family, but by 1926 the patronage was in the hands of the Martyrs' Memorial Trustees, with whom it has remained. (fn. 9) In 1915 there was some debate on the status of the living; on the induction of John Consterdine the bishop in his address said that the conclusion of the church's legal advisers was that it was a vicarage and not a rectory, and for the present he was advised to use the former term. (fn. 10) In spite of this opinion, however, the ministers since then have continued to call themselves rectors. (fn. 11)
In 1397 the tithes of the parish belonged to the manor of Edgware Boys and were worth 7 marks a year. The chaplain was provided with a suitable house and garden, with altarage, and 2½ marks a year. (fn. 12) In 1535 the appropriation was worth £12. (fn. 13) The chantry certificate of 1545 gives the value to the lay rector as £9. (fn. 14) In c. 1650 the parsonage tithes were said to be worth £50 a year at an improved rent and the small tithes, together with the house, to be worth £40 a year. There is only a faint suggestion that the minister received the small tithes. (fn. 15) The minister's stipend was evidently insufficient at this period, for in 1657 he was granted an augmentation of £20, besides the £10 already granted by the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers. (fn. 16) In 1788 Edgware was said to be a curacy, worth £80 a year. (fn. 17) During the 19th century the value of the living fluctuated. The tithe award of 1845 gave a rent-charge of £25 to the owner of Boys manor in lieu of corn tithes, a rent-charge of £450 to the vicar (that is, the resident minister, now beginning to promote himself) in lieu of all other tithes, and £2 to the vicar in lieu of vicarial tithes arising from the glebe lands. (fn. 18) This theoretical value continued to be quoted almost to the end of the century, but in 1896, although the tithe rent-charge was still £450 the average was £336, which with the glebe gave a gross income of £360. No great increase in the minister's income came until the 1930s brought building development to the glebe; in 1935 the gross income was £726, but by 1940, helped by new ground-rents of £525, it had risen to £1,317. (fn. 19)
In 1375 Saer de Stevenage left a house with garden, dovehouse, and meadow to the Hospitallers. (fn. 20) In 1397 John Wetynge, who was not the chaplain, held this house. (fn. 21) No rectory, vicarage, or curate's house is named on the map of 1597, although there is an L-shaped house on the site where the 18th-century house was to stand, between the west end of the church and the crossroads. (fn. 22) There was a 'vicarage house' in 1649, and in 1664 and 1672 the curate, Samuel Smith, occupied a house of five hearths. (fn. 23) An engraving of 1807 shows a substantial three-storied house to the west of the church, which was still standing in 1824. (fn. 24) In 1817 the curate hired by Thomas Martyn, the non-resident curate appointed to the donative, lived in the 'parsonage', which must have been this house. (fn. 25) In 1828, however, part of Katefield, a few hundred yards northeast of the church along what is now Station Road, was bought by John Lee, the owner of Boys manor, and in the following year it was sold to his brother the Revd. Nicholas Fiott, (fn. 26) who built what later became known as the 'rectory house' on the site. (fn. 27) This house, built of white brick, had some twenty rooms, as well as stables and outbuildings. (fn. 28) The old house was demolished, and the new house continued to be used as a vicarage or rectory until, at some time shortly before 1919, it was sold. It has since been pulled down and houses, shops, and the Ritz Cinema have replaced it. The present house was built in 1920, and in 1953 a house was bought for one of the assistant curates. (fn. 29) Before 1829 the glebe consisted of about one acre at the back of the church, but by the purchase of Katefield it was increased to just over nine acres.
Thomas Disney, curate in the reign of Elizabeth I, was certified 'old and ignorant' in 1586. (fn. 30) John Whiston was turned out of the curacy in 1644, and at the Restoration complained that he was kept out of the parish by Richard Swift. (fn. 31) Swift, described by Whiston as a weaver, was appointed curate by the Triers in 1656 and ejected in 1660. Although he was without a degree he had the reputation of a learned man, and after his ejection he moved to Mill Hill, where he founded a school for Quakers. (fn. 32) In 1730 both the minister and the churchwardens showed some independence of mind. The curate complained that for some years the bishop's officials had taken undue, unreasonable, and unexplained fees, while the churchwardens showed irritation at the visitation articles. There was not at present, they said, a printed table of the prohibited degrees, but the minister 'will take care of it in a little time'. They had no chest for keeping the register, 'because we think it safer in the minister's custody. But if your Lordship insists upon it, we will get one'. They went on: 'If by the black hearse-cloth he meant a black pall, we have not one belonging to the parish: nor are we certain that the parish is obliged to have one. If it is, we will buy one. But there is always one in the town to be hired for a shilling'. (fn. 33) Francis Coventry, author of the satire History of Pompey the Little and a relative of the Earl of Coventry, was curate between c. 1750 and 1759. Thomas Martyn, the botanist and one of the earliest English disciples of Linnaeus, was the minister from 1787 to 1825. Martyn, who was non-resident, was described as the perpetual curate. In 1816 a false report of his death brought six candidates for his professorship at Cambridge, and sent his curate at Edgware, after a morning service in which he made several omissions and mistakes, in haste to London to sue for the incumbency during the minority of Nicholas Fiott, for whom the living was intended. (fn. 34)
H. A. H. Lea, rector 1925-48, made a determined effort to cope with the problems of a modern suburban parish. A strong evangelical, heartened by the success of the local clergy in preventing 'the threat ened greyhound menace', he led the resistance to Sunday opening of the cinema in 1933. This time the united efforts of the churches failed, but the rector organized a counter-attack in the form of gatherings on Sunday evenings which included music, singing, lantern lectures, reading, and conversation. These meetings were held in the new church hall which had been built in 1931 on a site conveyed by the Martyrs' Memorial Trustees and the Church of England Trust out of newly acquired glebe. It replaced an old army hut in Hale Lane and augmented the Truth Hall, a small building of plain brick at the west end of the churchyard, which had been built in 1833 for use as a church school. The parochial church council expressed a particular wish that the new hall should not be used for the encouragement of dancing or card-playing. (fn. 35) In 1936 there were queues for getting into the church, although there were two services each Sunday evening. (fn. 36) In 1955 the Revd. J. M. Scutt organized a campaign among the 'nomads of the Edgware milk-bars' and invited them to a meeting in the Truth Hall. On the appointed day a queue gathered outside the hall and the police, apparently misled by the appearance of some of the participants, warned the rector that his church was in danger. (fn. 37) The meetings were continued with some success.
The church of ST. MARGARET stands on the north-west side of Station Road near its junction with High Street. It consists of a west tower, chancel, aisled nave, north and south transepts, and vestries. The tower, which is the only ancient part of the building, is of ragstone rubble and flint with dressings of Reigate stone and has diagonal buttresses and a north-east turret; it probably dates from the 15th century, although 14th-century bricks were found when repairs were made to the newel turret in 1960. (fn. 38) A map of the manor made in 1597 shows the church to consist of the tower, much the same as it is today, with nave, chancel, and south porch. (fn. 39) In 1673 the tiles of the nave were fallen away (fn. 40) and in 1715 the foundations were reported to be defective. In 1727 the churchwardens presented that 'the church is old, and decayed; but is propped up' and in 1730 they said that 'the church (although much decayed) is in as good repair as we can keep it unless it were rebuilt'. (fn. 41) By 1760 the church was so ruinous that the inhabitants were afraid to gather in it. With funds collected partly on a brief, a new body of brick was built on to the old tower in 1763 and 1764. (fn. 42) The new building consisted of a nave, with three round-headed windows in the south wall and two in the north wall, short north and south transepts each with a square-headed door, an open pediment on the end wall and round-headed windows, and a shallow chancel with a round-headed east window and open pediment. The walls were of red brick and the roof of red tiles. (fn. 43) The nave, chancel, and transepts were rebuilt in 'a debased Perpendicular style' in 1845. (fn. 44) The 18th-century plan appears to have been followed and the work was carried out in brick with stone dressings. In 1907 the church was closed when it was discovered that coffins were floating in up to three feet of water under the floor of the nave. During the subsequent excavations the foundations of a smaller and more ancient building were uncovered, but the vaults were filled in before they could be properly examined. The church was reopened in 1908. (fn. 45) By 1927 the church was obviously too small for a parish of some 5,000 inhabitants, and it was decided to enlarge the building to seat 450 people. The plan involved the addition of north and south aisles, each of two bays, and internal alterations to the chancel, at a total estimated cost of £13,500. The aisles are of brick with stone dressings and are built in a contemporary version of the Perpendicular style. The present vestries were built in 1939 and extended in 1960. (fn. 46)
A west gallery was erected in 1791 by the lord of the manor of Boys for the use of the Sunday school children. (fn. 47) A few years before 1817 a 'clumsy' gallery was built on the north side of the nave for the use of the parishioners, but subsequent rebuildings have removed all trace of it. (fn. 48) The small 18th-century marble font was removed from the aisle to a pew at the entrance of the church and its place supplied in the year 1809 by a stove. (fn. 49) In 1816 a barrel organ, with three barrels giving a choice of thirty tunes in all, was purchased and placed in the west gallery. It was removed to the north transept in 1850, where it was erected in a new case, with gilt front pipes, as a one-manual organ. There were no pedal pipes, and only half an octave of pedals. In 1915 a new organ was built by P. G. Phipps of Oxford, when the old pipes of the 1850 rebuilding were retained and augmented; an electric blower was installed in 1951. (fn. 50) The church was lit by candles until 1852, when twelve oil lamps were bought. In 1863 gas was introduced, although oil and candles continued to be used, and at the last remodelling in 1928 electric light was installed. (fn. 51)
In 1542 William Goodyer left 6s. 8d. in his will 'to the building of the steeple and to the reparations of the bells at Edgware'. There were three bells and a little broken bell in 1547. (fn. 52) The present peal of six bells, each with a motto and the name of the founder, was cast in 1769 by Thomas Janaway, an itinerant founder who set up his foundry in the churchyard near the tower. (fn. 53) There was a clock at the church in 1673, but in 1756 an eight-day ting-tang clock was fitted to the tower. By the beginning of the 20th century the inhabitants could stand its striking no longer and they successfully petitioned to have it silenced. The clock was repaired in 1961. (fn. 54)
There is a large mural tablet to Randall Nicholl (1595-1658) who lived at Jervis, a house and farm on the Hendon side of Dean's Brook at Hale Lane. A man of considerable learning, he established by his will an annual commemoration sermon for the sum of 20s. to be given in Edgware church. The sermon is still preached. (fn. 55) There are several other mural tablets of the 18th and early 19th centuries. There are two small brasses: one carries an inscription to Sir Richard Chamberlain (d. 1532); the other commemorates Anthony Child (d. 1599/1600) and shows an infant in swaddling clothes. A silver Communion cup is date-marked 1562, and a silver paten may be a unique example of Marian plate, made about 1557. The remainder of the plate, except for a silver paten of 1715, is of the 19th century. (fn. 56) The registers are complete from 1717. The churchyard appears to have been enclosed by a stone or brick wall in 1597, but by 1792 it was fenced. (fn. 57) In 1817 it was considered to be too small, 'being every time the earth is broken for the internment of a corpse, in a state too painful to describe'. (fn. 58) There have, however, been many burials there since 1817.
The church of ST. ANDREW, Broadfields, in Lynford Gardens, is a red-brick building with round-headed windows and a pantile roof, built as a mission church to serve the area north of Edgware Way. The site and £4,000 were given by Miss Violet Wills, and the first curate-in-charge was appointed in 1937. (fn. 59)
The mission church of ST. PETER, on the east side of Watling Street, serves primarily the new council estate at Spur Road. It is a small building designed in a mid-20th-century style, having at its entrance a detached wooden framework supporting a bell and a large cross. The building was opened for worship in 1963 and is served by a curate-in-charge.
The Convent of St. Mary at the Cross (fn. 60) moved from Shoreditch to land north of Hale Lane, Edgware, between 1873 and 1877. The chapel, designed as the Lady Chapel to a conventual church which was never built, was not completed until 1890. The buildings, which are in a Victorian Gothic style and of red brick with stone dressings, are the work of James Brooks. From the beginning the rule was founded on that of St. Benedict. The Convent of St. Mary has claimed to be the first Anglican community to recite the Day Hours in Latin; since 1929 the whole of corporate worship has been in that tongue. In 1929 the community was affiliated to the Benedictines of Nashdom Abbey (Burnham, Bucks.), where it found a refuge during the Second World War.