A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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A church at Finchley was first recorded in 1274, although some of its fabric was probably older. (fn. 1) The benefice has always been a rectory in the patronage of the bishop of London except during the Interregnum when it was exercised by Sir John Wollaston. (fn. 2) Edward I presented sede vacante in 1274, Archbishop Chichele in 1425, (fn. 3) and Elizabeth I by royal prerogative in 1599. (fn. 4) Daughter churches were first established at Whetstone in 1832 and East End in 1846, and numbered six from 1904. (fn. 5)
The church was assessed at £8 in 1291 and the rectory including tithes was worth £22 a year in 1535 (fn. 6) and £86 10s. in 1650. (fn. 7) The living was worth £150 a year in 1718, £494 in 1851, (fn. 8) and was still considered one of the richest in the diocese in 1928. (fn. 9) The glebe, said to be 43 a. in 1650 and 48 a. in 1778, (fn. 10) included one large field surrounding the church and parsonage and others, recorded from the 15th century, around Church End, mostly interspersed with the demesne lands of Bibbesworth manor. (fn. 11)
The rector received all tithes, valued at 8s. in 1362 and £2 in 1535. (fn. 12) Woods were said to be excluded from tithe assessment in 1647. (fn. 13) In 1718 Finchley was contrasted with its neighbours as being the only parish where the inhabitants, all freeholders, paid only 2d. an acre in tithe. (fn. 14) The modus was on grassland, no modus being payable on arable or for small tithes. (fn. 15) The rector in 1798 intended to take tithes in kind, (fn. 16) and at inclosure he received 116 a. in a block on either side of Summers Lane, mostly in lieu of tithes payable on Finchley common. (fn. 17) By an award published in 1841, all remaining tithes were commuted for a rent-charge of £100 a year. (fn. 18) In 1848 the rector mortgaged the glebe and rentcharges and in 1861 he sold part of the ancient glebe in south-west Finchley. (fn. 19) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners purchased 27 a. of the inclosure allotment in 1886 and most of the remaining glebeland was sold in 1892 and 1906. (fn. 20) In the late 1950s part of the glebe near the church was sold to the local authority and in 1977 the rest was sold to the Pewterers' Company's Housing Association, leaving only the Rectory and a small garden. (fn. 21)
The parsonage house, mentioned in 1476, stood near the church and in 1810 was chiefly built of timber, with roofs of slate and tiles. (fn. 22) Ralph Worsley, rector 1794-1848, went to live at Moss Hall in Nether Street, which his wife had inherited, whereupon the rectory house was leased. (fn. 23) One of the first actions of Thomas Reader White, rector 1848-77, was to replace the old house with one to the north, built in stock brick to the design of Anthony Salvin. (fn. 24) In 1974 a smaller rectory was built to the west and the Victorian one was demolished. (fn. 25)
By will proved 1296 William de Hadestok devised a rent-charge of six marks a year on property in London to support a chantry for the souls of himself and his ancestors. On the advice of Hadestok's successor Henry Bedyk, the bishop of London established the chantry at Finchley. (fn. 26) Bedyk, who in 1334 presented a priest to the Finchley chantry, by will dated 1335 devised a rent-charge to endow seven chantries for a year after his death, two of them to be in Finchley church. (fn. 27) A chantry chaplain from Finchley church exchanged benefices in 1356 and the lords of Bibbesworth exercised patronage of the chantry in 1361 and 1363, when it was described as 'Finchley chapel in the manor'. (fn. 28) In 1368 an inquest decided that Hadestok's chantry had never been established, perhaps because it was thought to be in London. (fn. 29) There is no evidence that priests in Finchley other than the rector were there because of the chantry, which had lapsed by 1535. (fn. 30)
Many Finchley inhabitants left small sums for lights and obits, including Thomas Noke (1476), John Smith (1484), and Agnes Martin (1498). (fn. 31) John Haynes left 6s. 8d. charged on land for an obit in 1536 and Thomas Dale, by will proved 1526, devised lands called Doves, which produced £2 a year, to maintain ornaments in the church and to establish an obit. (fn. 32) The land was sold to John Hulson and William Pendered in 1549. (fn. 33) The charities of Robert Warren (1489) and Thomas Sanny (1506) provided, inter alia, for ornaments for the church and 'certain superstitious purposes', presumably obits. (fn. 34)
William Vigorous, rector 1329-32, was also archdeacon of Essex and John Barville, 1454-70, and John Hill, 1492, later became prebendaries of St. Paul's, but pluralist rectors were not usual until the 16th century. Thereafter the following rectors also held prebends of St. Paul's or London benefices: Walter Preston, 1527-33, Hugh Baker, 1533-4, John Spendlove, 1534-54 and 1558-81, William Cotton, 1581-99, John Barkham, 1608-15, Thomas Worrall, 1626-39, Thomas Wykes, 1640-2, John Hall, 1666- 1707, Nathaniel Marshall, 1707-29, John Marshall, 1730, William Crowe, 1731-43, Thomas Archer, 1743-67, James Waller, 1767-70, and Samuel Carr, 1770-94. (fn. 35)
William Vigorous was the bishop's confidant and administrator of his estates, (fn. 36) Stephen de Scaldeford, 1332-5, was a bishop's clerk, (fn. 37) and John Spendlove, John Bancroft, 1601-8, and James Waller were relatives of the bishops who presented them. William Cotton, later bishop of Exeter, spent his youth in Finchley and bought property there. (fn. 38) Thomas Latewar, rector 1599-1601, was a noted preacher and Latin poet. John Barkham was an antiquary, John Hall, 1666-1707, an author of theological tracts and prayers, and William Crowe, a Greek scholar and author of published sermons. (fn. 39)
A second priest was usual from the 14th century, at first perhaps to serve the chantry. (fn. 40) During the early 16th century in spite of the chantry's disappearance, there was invariably at least one priest other than the rector. In 1530 and 1531 there were two. (fn. 41) Such priests served as rector's or parish clerk, living in the clerk's house next to the churchyard (fn. 42) until after the Reformation, both Richard Fynch, 1558, and William Anderson or Sanderson, 1583-4, being priests and clerks. (fn. 43) Anderson was probably the last of the consecrated clerks, whose house was lost in the reorganization of the parish charities in 1561. (fn. 44) Assistant curates were recorded from 1590 to 1593, in 1612, and in 1639. (fn. 45) They were usual throughout the 18th century and included John Hall the younger in 1706, presumably the rector's son. (fn. 46)
In 1461 the pope confirmed the custom of blessing the Easter candle in Finchley church. (fn. 47) The main shrine in the chancel was dedicated to Our Lady, of whom there was a statue, clad in a velvet coat. (fn. 48) A crucifix, possibly made c. 1434, was attached to the rood beam (fn. 49) and lights burned before the altars or images of St. Margaret, St. Nicholas, St. Faith, and, in 1496, of St. Gregory in the new aisle. (fn. 50) There were vestments of gold, silver, and blue velvet and copes of velvet in 1552. (fn. 51)
John Spendlove, although a pluralist, served the cure himself and was largely responsible for converting the pre-Reformation charities to secular parochial uses. (fn. 52) He was ejected in 1554, when his immediate successor was John Feckenham or Howman, who resigned after a few months to become dean of St. Paul's and, in 1556, abbot of Westminster. (fn. 53) Spendlove was restored under Elizabeth I and was followed by William Cotton, an opponent of Puritanism. Doctrinal differences may have provoked the attack by William Anderson, Cotton's curate, upon a parishioner in the church in 1584. (fn. 54) There was fighting during the service in 1645 and again in 1671. (fn. 55) Thomas Goulston, rector 1657-62, was ejected in 1662. (fn. 56)
About 1685 the bishop directed that the names of strangers who preached at Finchley should be recorded and also ordered new books and tables. (fn. 57) In the mid 18th century services were held twice on Sundays, and communion was administered at the three major festivals and once a month at other times. (fn. 58) A pair of organs had existed in 1552 (fn. 59) and an organ was rebuilt in 1691. John Snetzler, the German-born organ-builder, was paid for a new organ in 1748, (fn. 60) which was replaced in 1877. (fn. 61) William Savage (d. 1789), a singer who had performed for Handel, was organist in Finchley church. (fn. 62)
Ralph Worsley, rector 1794-1848, was castigated by Eliza Anne Salvin as an incompetent and gouty old man, who enjoyed good dinners and preached the same sermon every Christmas. Believing that his only duties were to read the service and preach, he left parochial work to his curates, of whom Charles Worsley, master of Manor House school, was one. (fn. 63) The curates were responsible for the foundation of the first two daughter churches in 1832 and 1846. (fn. 64) Worsley was followed by T. R. White, young and probably evangelical, who demolished the old rectory and clerk's house, destroyed the piscina in the church, built a new National school, founded Christ's College, and involved himself in the affairs of the parish. (fn. 65) On census Sunday 1851 the church, with 600 sittings, was attended by 250 people in the morning and 200 in the afternoon. (fn. 66) On one Sunday in 1903 the respective numbers were 405 and 501, and the church was still the best attended in the ancient parish. (fn. 67) A parish hall was erected in 1885. (fn. 68) Stewart Bernays, 1924-41, like earlier rectors a prebendary of St. Paul's, founded St. Mary's men's club and, by co-operating with the Congregational minister, began the ecumenical movement in Finchley. (fn. 69)
The church of ST. MARY, so called by 1356, (fn. 70) is of ragstone rubble with freestone dressings and has a chancel with north chapel and north vestries, a clerestoreyed nave with north aisle, double south aisle, and porch, and a west tower. Fragments of carved 12th-century stonework are set into the west wall of the nave and the foundations of a smaller building are said to have been found beneath the floor in 1872. (fn. 71) The medieval parts of the existing building, however, all date from the late 15th or early 16th centuries and consist of the north wall, tower, and parts of the north arcade of the nave and chancel. At that period the nave had a clerestory but no south aisle. A north aisle, with a chantry chapel, existed in the 14th century but the aisle was described as 'new' in 1496. (fn. 72) The south porch had been built by 1484 and the clerestory was probably built c. 1487. (fn. 73) The doorway to the roof-loft, at the north-west corner of the chancel, was inserted in the early 16th century. A new chapel, mentioned in 1575, (fn. 74) was presumably that on the north side of the chancel which appears to be of the earlier 16th century.
A steeple was repaired in 1544 and 1654 but had disappeared by the late 18th century, (fn. 75) and a gallery was provided in 1594, with money from the charity estates. (fn. 76) In 1684 the rector claimed that in 1648 the parishioners undertook to repair the chancel in return for the erection of four pews there. There is no record that the rector paid for repairs, which were always financed by the charity estates or church-rates. (fn. 77) Pews were sold in 1804 to individuals who, with other 'opulent inhabitants', were asked for subscriptions in 1812. (fn. 78)
A west gallery, which may have replaced the Elizabethan one, was erected in 1729 and a gallery in the north aisle in 1804. (fn. 79) In 1778 weatherboarding at the west end of the chancel was taken down and the buttresses, tower battlements, and south windows were renewed. (fn. 80) In 1812 the tower and roof timbers were in a very bad state, whereupon the vestry decided to repair the roof and top part of the tower but not to render the exterior. (fn. 81) Anthony Salvin gave his services free in 1841, when a new vestry room was built and more repairs were made. (fn. 82) In enlargements in 1872 by Messrs. Newman & Billing, the chancel was extended eastward, a south arcade and aisle were added, the north gallery was removed, and the arches of the north arcade and the clerestory windows were rebuilt. The restoration uncovered portions of the old fabric, including the sedilia and piscina and a life-sized figure of St. George and the dragon. (fn. 83) During the incumbency of William St. Hill Bourne, 1900-24, plaster was removed to expose the original roof timbers. (fn. 84) Vestries were added in 1888 (fn. 85) and a further south aisle and new vestries were built in the south side in 1932. (fn. 86) After bombing in 1940 the church lost all its windows and the east wall. The fabric was restored and the chancel extended in 1953. (fn. 87)
The Purbeck marble bowl of an early-13thcentury font, found in the rectory stables, was installed in 1911. (fn. 88) The church is rich in brasses and monuments. (fn. 89) Among the former are brasses for Richard Prate (Pratt) (1487) and his wife, for William Godolphin (1575), for Simon Scudamore (1609) and his wife, for Simon's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Nicholas Luke, and for Thomas White (1610) and his wives, and inscriptions for William Blakwell and his son Richard (c. 1500) and for the foundation of Thomas Sanny's charity (1509). There are marble effigies of Alexander King (d. 1618) and his wife and monuments to Sir Thomas Allen (d. 1681) and his wife, to Thomas Allen (d. 1780), his wife Ann (d. 1796), and son Thomas (d. 1830), to Lt. Col. John Searle (d. 1682), and to William Seward (d. 1799). Norden noted the marble tomb of Thomas Frowyk although the brass inscription had already been defaced. (fn. 90) In 1718 the tomb was described as sumptuous but as having been much defaced in the Civil War. (fn. 91) It stood between columns on the north side of the chancel and made way for new pews in 1760. (fn. 92)
Money was left by Thomas Marsh to purchase a bell in 1434 and by William Pepys for the casting of the 'great bell of Finchley' in 1535. (fn. 93) There were five bells and one small bell in 1552. (fn. 94) Bells were repaired in 1762, 1770 when new ones were ordered to make up a peal of six, 1806, 1847, and 1912-13. (fn. 95) There are six bells: (i-iii) and (v) by Pack & Chapman of London, 1770; (iv) by Thomas Mears, 1804; (vi) by C. & G. Mears, 1847. (fn. 96)
By will proved 1484 John Smith bequeathed his best mazer to Finchley church. (fn. 97) The silver plate consisted in 1552 of two chalices and a pyx and in 1685 of a bowl and one large and two smaller patens. (fn. 98) It was presumably the latter which, together with a silver communion cup and flagon, were stolen in 1789. (fn. 99) Two flagons, a chalice, a paten, and plates for bread and for collections were purchased in 1791 and stolen in 1818, but apparently recovered. (fn. 100) They were given to a colonial church and replaced in 1896 with silver plate donated by F. A. Hamilton, (fn. 101) which in turn was stolen in 1936. (fn. 102) In 1977 the church had a set of brass plate.
The registers, which in 1685 were not kept in a chest, (fn. 103) date from 1558 and are complete except for baptisms 1604, 1625, 1696-1700, marriages 1604, 1643-53, 1655-7, and burials 1604, 1643-52, 1679- 1700. (fn. 104)
In 1832 Joseph Baxendale gave land in High Road, at the southern end of his Woodside House estate, as a site for a church to serve Whetstone. A chapel of ease, dedicated to ST. JOHN THE APOSTLE, was built there, financed by private subscription and endowed from Queen Anne's Bounty. The patronage, initially exercised by trustees, in 1835 was transferred to the bishop in return for a stipend for the perpetual curate. (fn. 105) A district chapelry was assigned in 1836, there was seating for 407 in 1851, (fn. 106) and on one Sunday in 1903 there were 120 worshippers in the morning and 122 in the evening. (fn. 107) The church, a small, plain building with polygonal turrets and a campanile, was extended when the chancel, designed by James Brooks, was added in 1879 and a vestry in 1898. The east window, by William Morris & Co., and the roof date from 1879. The church was restored in 1948. (fn. 108) Fittings include a modern statue of the Virgin and Child and other indications of High Church practice. A church hall was built in 1958. (fn. 109)
HOLY TRINITY (fn. 110) church was built in Church (formerly Bull) Lane in 1846 after Charles Worsley, Mrs. Salvin, and others had stressed the spiritual needs of the 'godless' hamlet of East End. (fn. 111) A district chapelry was assigned in 1846 (fn. 112) and a vicarage created in 1872. (fn. 113) The bishop, who was the patron, endowed the living with £100 a year and gave the site of the parsonage in East End Road, at some distance from the church. (fn. 114) The Church Building Society and Queen Anne's Bounty made grants and local benefactors like the Lermitte family raised subscriptions. (fn. 115) The church, which possessed 437 sittings, was attended by 295 in the morning and 330 in the evening on census Sunday 1851. (fn. 116) Numbers had declined to 141 in the morning and 190 in the afternoon by one Sunday in 1903, (fn. 117) after the parish had been reduced by the creation of All Saints', East Finchley. It was further reduced after the opening of St. Jude's, Hampstead Garden Suburb, in 1932. Anthony Salvin, who was also churchwarden, designed both church and vicarage. The church, built of stone in the Early English style and consisting of chancel, nave, and west turret, was enlarged in 1860 by a south aisle and in 1866 by a north aisle, both provided for in the original design. (fn. 118) The clerestory windows were added in 1893. A red-brick hall was built next to the church in 1913. (fn. 119)
CHRIST CHURCH, North Finchley, originated in 1864 when the London Diocesan Home Mission sent Henry Stephens to open a mission for navvies working on the railway. (fn. 120) Services were held in an iron building in High Road until part of a permanent church was consecrated near by in 1869. A consolidated chapelry was assigned from the mother parish, St. John's, Whetstone, and Holy Trinity in 1872. The patronage was vested in trustees, including the rector, who had given glebeland for the site, (fn. 121) and later exercised by the Church Patronage Society. (fn. 122) Additions were made to the building as funds became available, especially from wealthy parishioners like the Hamiltons. On one Sunday in 1903, when there were 700 sittings, 237 people attended in the morning and 314 in the afternoon. (fn. 123) Christ Church always maintained an evangelical tradition. By 1899 two curates helped to run the memorial hall and library in High Road, which had been built in memory of Henry Stephens (d. 1898), an institute in Percy Road (c. 1899), and missions at Holden Road (1885-1909) (fn. 124) and Summers Lane (1906-60). In 1938 the Stephens memorial hall was sold and a new hall built behind the church. Designed by J. Norton, the church is of brick with stone facings in the early Gothic style. The foundation stone of the nave was laid in 1867. The north aisle was built in 1874, the south aisle in 1880, and the chancel, side chapel, and vestries were built in 1891. The large Victorian vicarage next to the church survived in 1977.
In 1885 Mrs. F. A. Hamilton of Brent Lodge laid the foundation stone of the church of ST. PAUL, Long Lane. Financed by private subscriptions and the Bishop of London's Fund, the church was built in 1886 and a parish was formed from Christ Church and St. Mary's. (fn. 125) The benefice was augmented from investments belonging to the rectory, and the first vicar was a former curate of Finchley. (fn. 126) Patronage was vested in the Simeon Trustees. Attendance on one Sunday in 1903 was second only to St. Mary's, with 301 in the morning and 324 in the evening. (fn. 127) The church, of stone in the Early English style and designed by John Ladds, consists of chancel, nave, aisles, transepts, and turret. (fn. 128) It contains a bell inscribed 'Beatus venter qui te portavit' of c. 1380, probably made by John Langhorne of London (d. 1406) and brought from Hatford (Berks.). (fn. 129) A church hall was built in 1899. (fn. 130)
An iron mission church, dedicated to ST. BARNABAS, (fn. 131) was built in Holden Road in 1885 by Christ Church (fn. 132) to serve the growing population of Woodside Park. It was attended by 98 people on the morning of one Sunday in 1903. (fn. 133) In 1912 a permanent church was founded on the same site and in 1914 a parish was created, with the Church Patronage Society as patron. (fn. 134) The church, built of red brick with stone dressings in the Gothic style to the design of J. S. Alder, has a stone interior, a rounded apse, and wooden barrel roof. It consists of chancel, aisled and clerestoreyed nave, and southeast chapel. The iron building was moved to Gainsborough Road, where it served as the parish hall until its replacement by a larger hall, which was sold in 1969 to St. Alban's Roman Catholic churhc. The west end of the church has been altered to form a new hall.
ALL SAINTS' (fn. 135) church was built in 1891 in Durham Road, on the eastern border of East Finchley, on land given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. A consolidated chapelry was assigned in 1900 from Holy Trinity and St. James's, Muswell Hill, (fn. 136) and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners made further grants for building and endowment. (fn. 137) From 1900 the church was a vicarage in the patronage of the bishop of London. (fn. 138) There were 500 sittings and attendances on one Sunday in 1903 of 208 in the morning and 337 in the afternoon. (fn. 139) Built of brick with stone dressings in the Perpendicular style to designs by J. E. K. and J. P. Cutts, the church consists of clerestoreyed nave, aisles, south chapel, north-east organ chamber, and western narthex. The chancel was added in 1912. High Church fittings in 1977 included a rood and stations of the cross. An adjacent hall was built in the 1930s. (fn. 140)
A parish for the church of ST. LUKE, Mountfield Road, was created in 1904 from St. Mary's and St. Paul's. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners made grants towards the church but the largest sums were contributed by subscribers, in whom the patronage was vested (fn. 141) before it passed to the Church Patronage Society. (fn. 142) The church, built in 1905 to the design of W. D. Caroë, is of red brick with stone dressings and consists of chancel, nave, and north aisle. (fn. 143) A church hall was erected in 1937. (fn. 144)