Harmondsworth: Church

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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Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley, 'Harmondsworth: Church', 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, (London, 1971), pp. 17-19. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp17-19 [accessed 23 June 2024].

Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley. "Harmondsworth: Church", in 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, (London, 1971) 17-19. British History Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp17-19.

Bolton, Diane K. King, H P F. Wyld, Gillian. Yaxley, D C. "Harmondsworth: Church", 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, (London, 1971). 17-19. British History Online. Web. 23 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp17-19.


In 1069 the parish church was granted, with the manor, to the Abbey of Holy Trinity, Rouen. (fn. 1) The rectory thereafter followed the descent of the manor until the late 18th century, its appropriation to Holy Trinity being rescinded in 1391, when it was appropriated to Winchester College. (fn. 2) The rectory was sold in 1772 by Henry, Lord Paget, later Earl of Uxbridge, to Sir William Heathcote, who in turn sold it in 1789 to George Byng, who represented Middlesex in Parliament. (fn. 3) The Byngs still owned the rectory in 1835, (fn. 4) but its later history is obscure.

During the ownership of Winchester College the rectory is known to have been farmed out at least twice. It was farmed in 1415, (fn. 5) and this was probably the usual custom. The first surviving lease of the rectory is to William Noke in 1540, in which the patronage was reserved to the college. (fn. 6) Later an under-lease was granted, and also a lease in reversion. (fn. 7) The rectory formed part of the dower of Anne, Lady Paget, in 1564, (fn. 8) and in 1587, on Lord Paget's attainder, it was included in the lease of the manor from Queen Elizabeth I to Sir Christopher Hatton. (fn. 9) It was leased again by the queen in 1593 to Thomas and William Duck, (fn. 10) after Hatton's death. During the 17th and 18th centuries, after it had been restored to the Pagets, (fn. 11) the rectory was usually leased out together with the tithes and tithe barn. (fn. 12)

About 1247 the church was valued at 25 marks. (fn. 13) By 1291 the sum had increased to £20 (fn. 14) and in 1293-4 the church was worth £17 6s. 8d. (fn. 15) By 1324 the figure had fallen to £10, (fn. 16) and although in 1340 it was again reckoned to be £20, the actual value to the rector was only £13 6s. 8d., the rest being assigned to the vicar. (fn. 17) The sum of £20 remained a standard figure quoted in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. (fn. 18) In the 16th century and thereafter the rectory was almost always leased together with the tithes, and so no independent figures can be obtained. The farm of the rectory and tithes rose progressively from £25 in 1530 to £270 in 1738. (fn. 19)

The Abbey of Holy Trinity, as the impropriate rector, collected the great tithes, (fn. 20) and in the early 15th century the great tithe of flax and hemp was paid on all lands and gardens cultivated with a plough. (fn. 21) At about the same time the rectorial tithes of grain and hay were valued at 40 marks or more. (fn. 22) When the rectory was owned by Winchester College the great tithes formed part of the income of the college and manor. In 1433, for instance, part of the tithe money was raised by the sale of lime, chalk, and the previous year's hay crop. (fn. 23) In the mid 17th century the tithes, leased at £210 a year, constituted part of the Pagets' income from the manor; (fn. 24) a century later they were leased at £250. (fn. 25) The rectorial tithes were extinguished at Michaelmas 1806, after the first Inclosure Act, and 369 a. in lieu of tithes were awarded to George Byng, the impropriate rector, in 1819 under the second Inclosure Act. (fn. 26) No glebe land appears to have been attached to the rectory at any time.

The precise date of the ordination of the vicarage is not known, but it probably occurred at the same time as or shortly after the appropriation to Holy Trinity Abbey; there was certainly a vicarage by about 1247. (fn. 27) In 1321 and doubtless long before the patronage of the vicarage was exercised by the abbey. (fn. 28) While the rectory remained the property of the lord of the manor the advowson of the vicarage also remained in the lord's hand, being expressly reserved to him in leases of the rectory and tithes. In 1755, some years before the sale of the rectory, the vicarage was consolidated with that of West Drayton, the Pagets owning both. (fn. 29) In the same year Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, sold the advowson to the Revd. George Booth. It passed to Thomas Ives in 1756, to the Revd. William Harvest in 1760, and to Culling Smith of Hadley in 1776. Smith sold the advowson in 1785 to a Mr. Burt, from whom it was acquired in 1786 by John Hubbard. (fn. 30) By 1808 it was in the possession of James Godfrey de Burgh of West Drayton. (fn. 31) The Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, however, who had an alternate right of presentation to the church of West Drayton, (fn. 32) also claimed in 1808 the right of alternate presentation to the vicarage of Harmondsworth. (fn. 33) Hubert de Burgh held the patronage in 1835, (fn. 34) and it seems to have remained in the de Burgh family until 1866, when Harmondsworth was separated from West Drayton, and sold to a Miss Rainsford. In 1875 it was bought by the Revd. Henry Worsley, who sold it in 1879 to Nicholas Richard Sykes. Sykes sold it in 1883 to John Charles Taylor (fn. 35) who in 1886 was also lord of the manor. (fn. 36) In 1894 the patronage was exercised by Taylor's trustees, who still owned it in 1937. (fn. 37) In 1965 the patron was the Revd. H. M. S. Taylor. (fn. 38)

The vicarage was valued at 3 marks c. 1247 (fn. 39) and at £2 in 1291. (fn. 40) In 1340 ten marks were being assigned out of the income of the rectory for the maintenance of the vicar. (fn. 41) In the mid 14th century the rectory and vicarage were valued together at £45 6s. 8d., (fn. 42) the vicarage being valued alone in 1347 at 40s. (fn. 43) In the late 14th or early 15th centuries the vicarage seems to have been worth about 75s., (fn. 44) and in the earlier 16th century to have had a net annual value of £12. (fn. 45) Worth £40 a year in 1656, (fn. 46) and £60 in the early 18th century, (fn. 47) its value had risen to £180 in 1780 and to £250 by 1813. (fn. 48) In 1835 the gross and net income of the consolidated benefices of Harmondsworth and West Drayton was £530. (fn. 49)

About 1340 some of the tax on the church was remitted, because the small tithes, which belonged to the vicarage, had been greatly reduced owing to the dry summers which had burned up the land. (fn. 50) In 1407 the small tithes of flax and hemp were given to the vicar from garden and other ground dug with a spade. (fn. 51) A late-14th or early-15th century inquisition shows that the small tithes, worth 60s. 8d., were also in the possession of Winchester College. Nearly half of this money came from gifts, and most of the remainder from pigs, geese, lambs, and wool. Small tithes were also levied on apples, honey, wax, milk, cheese, hemp, and flax. The college was presumably taking the tithes during a vacancy of the vicarage. (fn. 52)

In the early 15th century the vicar provided a lamp in Harmondsworth church at his own expense. (fn. 53) This was probably the same lamp that he maintained before the statue of the Virgin at about the same date, and which was supported from an acre of manorial land given to the church by Roger Mortimer. (fn. 54) This acre, called 'lamp land', was granted, together with other property, to John Walton and John Cressett by the Crown in 1586. It had been given for the maintenance of obits, lights, and lamps in Harmondsworth church, and had been held by the churchwardens. (fn. 55) In 1510 the Vicar of Harmondsworth, John Horne, bequeathed 4d. for every light burning before the statue of every saint in the church, and requested that his executors should ordain a priest for three years to read, sing, and pray in the church for the dead. (fn. 56) In 1547 there were said to be no chantries, obits, or lights, (fn. 57) but in 1562 land granted by the Crown to Cecily Pickerell included property in Harmondsworth that had been given for an obit in the church. (fn. 58) In 1586, together with the acre of 'lamp land', the Crown granted to Walton and Cressett a house lying immediately west of the churchyard that had been given for the maintenance of obits, lights, and lamps, and 2 a. of pasture in Harmondsworth held by William Geffrey, the income of which had been used partly for prayers for the dead, and partly to help the maintenance of Mad Bridge. Land in Stanwell was granted for the same purpose. (fn. 59)

In 1745 William Wild gave to trustees the land which had been granted out by the Crown in 1586. The rents were to be applied to the repair of the parish church, and in 1823 the property consisted of the Sun Inn and 2 a. awarded at inclosure. Later assertions that the charity had been created by the grant of 1586 are therefore inaccurate. In the mid 19th century the property included a butcher's shop, and a large part of the income had been used to build a vestry onto the church in 1858-9. The charity was regulated by a Charity Commission Scheme in 1862. The 'Sun' was closed by the licensing authorities in 1913, compensation being granted, and was converted into a private house. The 2 a. owned by the charity lay in Heathrow, and were sold to the Air Ministry in 1947. In 1958 the income of the Church Estate was about £62. (fn. 60)

By about 1400 there was a vicarage house. (fn. 61) Throughout the 15th and early 16th centuries manorial rentals record payments by the churchwardens of Harmondsworth for the house next to the court, (fn. 62) and there is one payment for the house next to the churchyard gate. (fn. 63) Glebe land, of which there were 12 a., is first mentioned in a late-14th or early-15th-century inquisition. (fn. 64) In 1587 the vicar was holding 20 a. from the manor, (fn. 65) and in 1656 there were 20 a. of glebe, a house, and an orchard, worth in all £40, but the salary of the resident minister was above £40. (fn. 66) At inclosure in 1819 the vicar was allotted 193 a. in lieu of tithes and glebe. (fn. 67) The vicarage was rebuilt in 1845 on a site east of the churchyard. (fn. 68) It is a plain building of brown brick with a central porch and a later 19th-century addition incorporating a tower at its east end.

Even before the formal union of Harmondsworth vicarage with that of West Drayton in 1755 one minister had often served both cures. Thomas Tyson, Vicar of Harmondsworth 1713-27, seems to have been the last vicar resident at Harmondsworth, although he too held West Drayton. His successor, John Lidgould, lived at West Drayton and employed a curate for Harmondsworth. (fn. 69) In the early 19th century the curates lived at the vicarage. (fn. 70) After the separation of the benefices, however, curates do not seem to have been appointed.

Almost nothing is known of the religious life of the parish. In the 15th century Richard Wiche, Vicar of Harmondsworth, was burned for heresy. (fn. 71) At Harmondsworth in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the vicarage was consolidated with West Drayton, there was one service only in the morning. (fn. 72)

The church of ST. MARY stands to the north of the green at the west end of Harmondsworth village and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north chapel, south-west tower, south porch, and north vestry. The exterior is mainly of flint rubble with stone dressings but the upper stages of the tower are of red brick. The oldest work in the church is in the south aisle which has a re-set south doorway of the mid 12th century, one of the two finest in Middlesex. (fn. 73) It consists of a semi-circular arch of three orders, the inner order decorated with carved rosettes and similar designs, the middle with beak-heads, and the outer with chevron ornament; the middle order rests on enriched shafts with scalloped capitals, much worn. The south aisle itself, together with the piece of the south arcade, are probably of the later 12th century, although the arcade arches are pointed and may thus represent an alteration of after 1200. It has been suggested that there is also 12th-century work in the north wall of the present tower which perhaps formed part of the Norman nave. (fn. 74) The church was largely remodelled in the early 13th century when the nave and north aisle were built or rebuilt and the north arcade constructed. The plain octagonal font of Purbeck marble dates from c. 1200. The north chapel is apparently a 14th-century addition and the present chancel, incorporating sedilia and a piscina in its south wall, is largely of the 15th century. The north side of the chancel and the north chapel were altered c. 1500 when the arcade between them was given fourcentred arches and extended into the east bay of the nave; the hammer-beam roof of the chapel and its piscina are of this date. The south-west tower is also of the late 15th or early 16th century, much restored. (fn. 75) Its upper stages are of brick and it is surmounted by a domed cupola and an embattled parapet with angle pinnacles. The north vestry and timber south porch are 19th-century additions.

The chancel was described as ruinous in 1673, when the ceiling, floor, and windows all required repairs. (fn. 76) The church was extensively restored in 1862-3. The walls, arcades, and roofs, which had been plastered, were stripped and the 15th-century nave roof of crown-post construction was revealed. (fn. 77) The commandment boards and the royal arms were removed, (fn. 78) but the early 16th-century oak pews, described as 'irregular and uncomfortable', (fn. 79) were retained and pine pews of similar design were added. The exterior, having been rough-cast over the stone and brick, was also stripped in 1862-3.

Some brasses were stolen from the church during the restoration, and also the communion plate, which was replaced in 1887 by a flagon, two cups, and a paten made by Garrards. (fn. 80) There are no outstanding monuments. Wall tablets in the chancel commemorate John Bush (d. 1713) and Anna and Richard Bankes (d. 1735 and 1750). Those in the north chapel commemorate Thomas Willing (d. 1773), Sir Walter Erskine (d. 1786), and Susannah, Lady Stirling (d. 1806), a paternal descendant of William of Wykeham. In the north aisle are wall monuments to past vicars and there are three of the late 17th and 18th centuries with achievements of arms. In the churchyard, north-east of the church, is the tomb of Richard Cox (d. 1845), a brewer who perfected the first Cox's Orange Pippin at Colnbrook End, in the adjoining parish of Stanwell. (fn. 81) The registers, which are complete, record baptisms and burials from 1670 and marriages from 1671. There are 6 bells, of which four are dated 1658 and are by Brian Eldridge; the other two are modern.

A mission chapel dedicated to ST. SAVIOUR was erected at Heathrow in 1880 by Claude Brown a former curate. (fn. 82) The church seems to have been sited on the Bath Road at or near where its successor stood in 1960. (fn. 83) This rectangular brick building, called the Church Hall of St. Saviour, was intended to serve the western side of the parish and to become a parish church if residential building was extended. As this did not occur, the hall remained a mission church. (fn. 84)


  • 1. Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, i, ed. Davis, no. 29.
  • 2. Cal. Papal Letters, iv. 441.
  • 3. Hennessy, Novum Repertorium, 200-1.
  • 4. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. [67], p. 650, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 5. Winchester Coll. Mun., 11416.
  • 6. E 315/463, ff. 8-11.
  • 7. M.R.O., Acc. 446/EM. 37; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix(1), p. 648.
  • 8. M.R.O., Acc. 446/ED. 125.
  • 9. Ibid./EM. 42.
  • 10. C 66/1404; E 310/19/96/40.
  • 11. M.R.O., Acc. 446/ED. 104; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1603-10, 391; see p. 7.
  • 12. Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 282-3; M.R.O., Acc. 446/ED. 127-33.
  • 13. St. Paul's MS. W.D.9, f. 84v.
  • 14. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 17.
  • 15. B.M. Add. MS. 6164, p. 98.
  • 16. E 142/83(2).
  • 17. Cal. Inq. Misc. ii, p. 418; C 145/139/19.
  • 18. Winchester Coll. Mun., 11436; Feudal Aids, iii. 378.
  • 19. S.C. 11/450; E 315/463, ff. 8-11; M.R.O., Acc. 446/ EF. 15/2,/EM. 40,/ED. 133; Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 282-3.
  • 20. Winchester Coll. Mun., 11338.
  • 21. S.C. 2/191/18.
  • 22. Guildhall MS. 9531/3, f. 207. See below note 1.
  • 23. S.C. 6/1126/7.
  • 24. M.R.O., Acc. 446/EM. 15.
  • 25. Ibid./EM. 35.
  • 26. Harmondsworth Incl. Award.
  • 27. St. Paul's MS. W.D.9, f. 84v.
  • 28. Reg. Baldock, Segrave, Newport, and Gravesend (Cant. & York Soc. vii), 268.
  • 29. V.C.H. Mdx. iii. 203.
  • 30. For the descent of the advowson, see Lysons, Mdx. Pars. 39; Hennessy, Novum Repertorium, 201.
  • 31. Guildhall MS. 9557.
  • 32. V.C.H. Mdx. iii. 202.
  • 33. Guildhall MS. 9558.
  • 34. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. [67], p. 650, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 35. Hennessy, Novum Repertorium, 201.
  • 36. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1886).
  • 37. Ibid. (1894, 1937).
  • 38. Lond. Dioc. Bk. (1965).
  • 39. St. Paul's MS. W.D.9, f. 84v.
  • 40. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 20.
  • 41. Cal. Inq. Misc. ii, p. 418; C 145/139/19.
  • 42. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 198.
  • 43. Cal. Papal Letters. iii. 239.
  • 44. Guildhall MS. 9531/3, ff. 206-7. This inquisition from Braybroke's register is dated 1438. The dating and its apparent insertion in an earlier register are unexplained, and the hand is contemporary with the rest of the register. It can safely be dated after 1391, and seems likely to have been an inquisition taken shortly after the acquisition of the manor and church by William of Wykeham.
  • 45. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 434; E 301/34/147.
  • 46. Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 282-3.
  • 47. Guildhall MS. 9550.
  • 48. Ibid. 9557.
  • 49. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. [67], p. 650, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 50. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 198.
  • 51. S.C. 2/191/18.
  • 52. Guildhall MS. 9531/3, ff. 206-7; see above note 1.
  • 53. Guildhall MS. 9531/3, f. 207.
  • 54. M.R.O., Acc. 446/EM. 1.
  • 55. C. 66/1284/14.
  • 56. P.C.C. 35 Bennett.
  • 57. E 301/34/147.
  • 58. Cal. Pat. 1560-3, 258.
  • 59. C 66/1284/13,/14.
  • 60. Char. Com. files.
  • 61. Guildhall MS. 9531/3, ff. 206-7.
  • 62. S.C. 11/443, 449; E 315/409, 416; M.R.O., Acc. 446/ EM. 1.
  • 63. S.C. 11/446.
  • 64. Guildhall MS. 9531/3.
  • 65. E 178/1430.
  • 66. Home Cnties. Mag. ii. 282-3.
  • 67. Harmondsworth Incl. Award.
  • 68. Date on building.
  • 69. Guildhall MS., 9550.
  • 70. Ibid. 9560.
  • 71. R. Fabyan, Chronicles of Eng. and France (1811), 613; J. Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1837), iii. 702; Cal. Pat. 1436-41, 426.
  • 72. Guildhall MS. 9558.
  • 73. Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 60-61, pl. 135; Pevsner, Mdx. 95. See plate facing p. 36. The other and more elaborate doorway is at Harlington.
  • 74. D. M. Rust, St. Mary's Parish Ch., Harmondsworth (1966).
  • 75. Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 61, pl. 136.
  • 76. Guildhall MS. 9537/20.
  • 77. Char. Com. files.
  • 78. A. H. Cox, Harmondsworth Heritage, 6.
  • 79. Char. Com. files.
  • 80. E. Freshfield, Communion Plate of Mdx. 28.
  • 81. A. Simmonds, A Horticultural Who was Who (Royal Horticultural Soc. 1940), 14-16; V.C.H. Mdx. iii. 36.
  • 82. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1882).
  • 83. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. xix. 4 (1896 and later edns.).
  • 84. Ex inf. the vicar.