Harrow, including Pinner : Pinner 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, 'Harrow, including Pinner : Pinner 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. 255-257. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp255-257 [accessed 16 June 2024].

Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley. "Harrow, including Pinner : Pinner 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) 255-257. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp255-257.

Bolton, Diane K. King, H P F. Wyld, Gillian. Yaxley, D C. "Harrow, including Pinner : Pinner 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). 255-257. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp255-257.


Although Pinner chapel already existed by 1234-40, (fn. 1) it was almost entirely rebuilt before its dedication in 1321 by Peter, Bishop of Corbavia. (fn. 2) The consecration, which included the graveyard if not previously consecrated, stressed the authority of the mother church. The chapel had no separate endowment and was served by the Vicar of Harrow or his curate. In 1538, however, the tithes and profits of the rector annexed to the parsonage of Harrow 'as in the right of the chapel of Pinner' were leased separately, (fn. 3) and in 1548 the communicants of Pinner were separately enumeracted. (fn. 4) During the 17th century the inhabitants often had their own minister (fn. 5) and in 1650 they detained the small tithes for him, while the commissioners recommended that Pinner should be made a separate parish, 'considering the distance of the place and the illness of the way'. (fn. 6) In 1699 Pinner asserted its immunity from the Harrow church-rate, (fn. 7) but it was not until 1766 that it achieved full parochial independence as a perpetual curacy as the result of a benefaction from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 8) From 1868 it was called a vicarage. (fn. 9)

The advowson of the perpetual curacy and later of the vicarage of Pinner was exercised by the Vicar of Harrow. (fn. 10) The first perpetual curate, Walter L. Williams (appointed 1764) retained Pinner on becoming Vicar of Harrow in 1776. When Williams presented a curate for Pinner, Lord Northwick was apparently annoyed that he had not been consulted. (fn. 11) In 1961-2 the benefice was served by a vicar and one curate. (fn. 12)

In 1548, under 'Pinner', the parsonage and vicarage were given as worth £18 and £13 6s. 8d. a year respectively. (fn. 13) The figures presumably represent the tithes and offerings drawn from the Pinner area, for the chapel was not yet endowed. By will dated 1622 John Dey, Curate of Pinner chapel, left property for the maintenance of a preaching minister, 'a man well qualified and a Master of Arts at the least', (fn. 14) but there is no evidence that his provision was carried out. The earliest known endowment was Francis Tyndale's gift in 1630 of Willat Street alias Howlis Close, 3 a. north of Hooking Green. (fn. 15) In 1642, when the inhabitants petitioned for a lecturer whom they would maintain at their own charge, their curate received £10 a year from the Vicar of Harrow, (fn. 16) representing the small tithes of Pinner, which, including those of Headstone, were worth £19 6s. 8d. a year in 1650. The parliamentary commissioners settled £60 on the Pinner minister. (fn. 17) In 1705 William Norrington gave £100 with which to buy a dwelling-house. A rent-charge of £4 on property at Ruislip was given by the will of Sir Thomas Franklin of Pinner Hill, dated 1728, and in 1731 two common-field lands were bought with money from the sale of wood in Willat Close, (fn. 18) which was later sold to redeem the land tax on other glebe lands. (fn. 19) From 1766 these endowments were supplemented by an annual payment of £8 made by the Vicar of Harrow. (fn. 20) In 1766 £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty was granted to the minister, and in 1772 Howells and Hungerlands, 20 a. at Hooking Green which had been sold to the commissioners by Matthew Fearne, were added to the glebe. (fn. 21) Thus at inclosure Walter L. Williams, as Curate of Pinner, had 25 a. of old inclosure and 3 a. allotted in lieu of common-field land. (fn. 22) By will proved 1797, Mary Roberts bequeathed £600 stock to augment the curacy of Pinner, provided that the curate was resident. The benefaction came into effect after the death of a life annuitant in 1811 and a suit in Chancery. (fn. 23) At about this time the curacy was estimated to be worth £180 a year, consisting of a small house, 26 a. of old inclosures worth £100, and £80 in benefactions and perquisities. (fn. 24) In 1835 the average net income was said to be only £100 (fn. 25) and in 1851 it was only £81, of which £71 came from endowments. (fn. 26) The parishioners tried hard to induce Christ Church to help their curate, who had 'the duties of a vicar and the stipend of a curate'. The college refused, since the chapelry had had no share in the vicarial tithes. Christ Church also declined to repair the chancel, and the Pinner inhabitants, who had to pay great tithes to the college as well as levy their own church-rate for repairs, became very bitter. (fn. 27) The glebe was sold in the 1930s. (fn. 28)

The first perpetual curate lived in Pinner House. (fn. 29) By 1875 the old vicarage, bought with the gift of 1705, was so dilapidated that a maid's leg came through the ceiling, (fn. 30) but repairs were effected with £750 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 31) The old vicarage, which had 18 rooms, stood near the road in Church Lane, and in 1877 was also used as a school. It was demolished in 1937 and replaced by a building set further back on the same site. (fn. 32)

One obit in Pinner chapel was maintained from a messuage called Beale of Pinner, given by John Street. This was leased for 12s. in 1548 when two tenements in Pinner churchyard, whose origin had been forgotten, were leased for 8s. a year. In 1548 all this property was granted to Thomas Bouchior and Henry Tanner. (fn. 33) A church house was mentioned in 1628, 1634, and 1690. (fn. 34)

Little is known about the curates of Pinner. In 1642 the inhabitants complained that the curate, John Willis, seldom preached or provided anyone in his place. They appointed Philip Goodwin, but Willis, making up for his neglect, 'expanded' in Pinner chapel for the whole of the afternoon when Goodwin was to take up his appointment. Finally Willis was ordered by Parliament to give way. (fn. 35) The 'preaching minister' in 1650 was William Rolls or Rowles, (fn. 36) who was ejected in 1662, and was later an Independent minister of Pinner. (fn. 37) James Cox became curate after his expulsion as Headmaster of Harrow School in 1746 for 'a disorderly, drunken, idle life'. (fn. 38) Later incumbents included Cunningham's protégée, John Venn (1830-3), son of the Rector of Clapham after whom the Clapham sect was named, (fn. 39) William St. Hill Bourne (1875-80), the hymn-writer, and William H. Pinnock (1880-5), the writer on church history. (fn. 40)

The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, (fn. 41) Pinner, built of flint with freestone and ironstone dressings, stands on a hill in the centre of old Pinner. It consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, south-east chapel, and western tower, and dates largely from the early 14th century, although the plan and the lower part of the north-east wall may date from the 13th century. The tower and south porch were added in the 15th century and a large wooden cross, encased in lead, was erected on top of the tower in 1637. Considerable alterations were made in the 19th century, especially in 1811, 1859 when the south chapel was added, and 1880 when the whole building was 'renovated' by J. L. Pearson. A few repairs were effected in 1936 and 1949-53. The church contains a chrisom brass (1581) and a number of 17th-century wall monuments and floor slabs, notably those of John Dey (d. 1622), Thomas Hutchinson and his wife (both d. 1656), and Christopher Clitherow (d. 1685). There is a 15th-century font and a 17th-century chest. In the churchyard is the monument to William Loudon (d. c. 1810) which, from its strange shape, gave rise to a local legend. (fn. 42)

All the old silver plate was stolen in 1846 and replaced by a plated set in 1883. (fn. 43) The registers date from 1654 and are complete. (fn. 44) There are five bells dating from 1622, which have been recast, and three more which were added in 1771. (fn. 45)


  • 1. Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 14.
  • 2. Lambeth Palace, Reynolds's Reg., f. 126v. Printed in Ware, Pinner, 62.
  • 3. Cant. Cath. Libr., Reg. T2, ff. 114v-5.
  • 4. E 301/34, f. 28v; Harrow Octocent. Tracts, ix. 24.
  • 5. e.g. in 1622: M.R.O., Acc. 76/1095c; in 1642: Hist. MSS. Com. 5th Rep. 66.
  • 6. Lambeth Palace MS. 913, Parl. Survey XII, pp. 147- 50. Printed in Home Cnties. Mag. i. 321-2.
  • 7. Robbins, Middlesex, 319.
  • 8. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1095a.
  • 9. Druett, Pinner, 122.
  • 10. Hennessy, Novum Repertorium, 206.
  • 11. M.R.O., Acc. 76/538.
  • 12. Crockford (1961-2).
  • 13. E 301/34, f. 28v.
  • 14. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1095c.
  • 15. Ibid.; M.R. 612, no. 1360; Pinner church, B1/1; Lysons, Environs of Lond. ii. 586.
  • 16. Hist. MSS. Com. 5th Rep. 66.
  • 17. Home Cnties. Mag. i. 321-2.
  • 18. Lysons, Environs of Lond. ii. 586.
  • 19. Druett, Pinner, 127.
  • 20. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1095a; Ret. of Parishes divided. . . since 1866, H.C. 433, p. 43 (1870), liv.
  • 21. M.R.O., Acc. 76/1095a; M.R. 612, nos. 1292, 1294; Druett, Pinner, 127. See above, p. 215.
  • 22. M.R.O., Acc. 794/8.
  • 23. M.R.O., Acc. 76/464, /1616; 9th Rep. Com. Char. H.C. 258, pp. 265-6 (1823), ix.
  • 24. M.R.O., Acc. 76/562.
  • 25. Rep. Com. Eccl. Rev. [67], pp. 196-7, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 26. H.O. 129/135/1/1/5.
  • 27. Christ Church MS. Estates 47/443, /520, /535, /537, /541.
  • 28. Druett, Pinner, 127.
  • 29. Ibid. 94, 111.
  • 30. Ware, Pinner, 41.
  • 31. Lond. Gaz. 1876, p. 2927; Druett, Pinner, 122.
  • 32. Ware, Pinner, 209. The frontage to Church Lane is illustrated in Panorama of Pinner Village, ed. Gadsden (1969).
  • 33. E 301/34, f. 28v; Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 410.
  • 34. Druett, Pinner, 94, 111.
  • 35. Hist. MSS. Com. 5th Rep. 66; Druett, Pinner, 82.
  • 36. Home Cnties. Mag. i. 321-2.
  • 37. Matthews, Calamy Revised, 416. See below, p. 261.
  • 38. Druett, Pinner, 108.
  • 39. Ware, Pinner, 207-8. See above, p. 255.
  • 40. Druett, Pinner, 122, 125.
  • 41. Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 101-3; Ware, Pinner, 57-84; Robbins, Middlesex, 320; T.L.M.A.S. xviii(2), no. 86; Pevsner, Mdx. 131-2.
  • 42. i.e. that the coffin was contained in the monument, above ground: Panorama of Pinner Village, ed. Gadsden.
  • 43. E. Freshfield, Communion Plate of Mdx. 42.
  • 44. See list in M.R.O., where most are deposited, D.R.O. 8/A1.
  • 45. Parish church of Pinner (pamphlet).