A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.
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Ecclesiastical synods were held at Brentford in the 8th century, (fn. 1) apparently before there was a church. Between 1175 and 1179 Ralph de Brito founded St. Lawrence's hospital, New Brentford, in honour of the royal family, his lord Richard de Lucy (d. 1179), and his own kin. Beside it he founded St. Lawrence's chapel, served by a chaplain, and a burial ground. All offerings and tithes were reserved to the rector of Hanwell, who was also to receive an annual payment of wax from the chaplain. The townspeople of New Brentford were to worship at Hanwell on the four principal feasts and to be buried there, except the infirm, chaplains, and their servants. (fn. 2) There was no further reference to the hospital until c. 1563, and then perhaps only to a later almshouse, (fn. 3) but the chapel survived. The chaplain, normally called the curate from 1500, (fn. 4) was paid by residents for his services c. 1529, because of their distance from the parish church. (fn. 5) He enjoyed some tithes by the mid 17th century, (fn. 6) when New Brentford, already governed by its own vestry, was thought fit to be made a separate parish. (fn. 7)
Ralph de Brito made no known provision for appointments but apparently the chapel was served by the rector of Hanwell or his nominees: chapel and church were treated together in surveys of livings from 1291 (fn. 8) and joint presentations were made by 1335. (fn. 9) It was claimed that appointments were customarily made by the township in 1707, when the rector successfully named his own candidate. (fn. 10) The rector held monthly services until 1744, when New Brentford became a perpetual curacy, often called a vicarage, in his gift. (fn. 11) The presentation of 1760 was sold (fn. 12) and two later ones were delegated to Dr. J. A. Emerton, principal of Hanwell college, because of difficulty in finding candidates. (fn. 13) In 1961 the parish of St. Lawrence, New Brentford, was amalgamated with St. George's and St. Paul's, Old Brentford, in the united parishes of Brentford, with the bishop of London as patron. (fn. 14)
New Brentford, previously valued with Hanwell, was worth £75 10s. in 1650. (fn. 15) The curacy was worth £150 in 1763, £283 in 1828, and £292 after rates in 1851. (fn. 16) Originally the chaplain was to be supported by the inmates of the hospital. (fn. 17) The householders of New Brentford paid him 1s. 4d. weekly until 1529, when an endowment of £3 9s. 4d. was left by Henry Redman and executed by his widow's gift of a house, later the George inn, which was also subject to other charges. On the dissolution of the chantries the payment became a rent charge of £6, to be divided equally between the curate and the parish but normally paid entirely to the curate from 1647 until at least 1851. (fn. 18) The curate also received some tithes, perhaps from the mid 16th century: (fn. 19) in 1647 they amounted to £12 10s. and in 1654 a larger share of the rector's income was sought, (fn. 20) probably in vain. In 1714 the rector managed to assert his right to the hay tithes from Boston manorial demesne (fn. 21) but in 1744 he gave up the small tithes of New Brentford, all hay tithes except those from Boston demesne, and all offerings. Evidently there was a further dispute over hay tithes in 1790. (fn. 22) In 1837, when 52 a. in New Brentford were not tithable, the rector was allotted £60 and the vicar of New Brentford £85 in tithe rent charges. (fn. 23) In 1694 the pew rents of a new gallery were assigned to the curate (fn. 24) and in 1764 a successor was assigned pews in the new church, (fn. 25) worth £98 in 1851. (fn. 26) The living was augmented by £60 in 1647 and £100 in 1657 but payment may not have survived the Restoration. (fn. 27) Queen Anne's Bounty supplemented it by 1721 and endowed it in 1747 with land at Heston and in Surrey, (fn. 28) which yielded £71 a year in 1851. (fn. 29) In 1843 the cure was so poor and the charity required of incumbents so heavy that only rich men could be presented. (fn. 30)
The medieval hospital may have been the almshouse which c. 1563 lay west of the church and was said to have been the gift of a former manorial lessee. (fn. 31) Perhaps the almshouse was also the church house, towards which money was given in 1531. (fn. 32) A church house stood immediately east of the church in High Street in 1611 and 1621 (fn. 33) and later was said to stand in the churchyard. (fn. 34) It had customarily been inhabited by the curate or the poor in 1646, when the lord leased it to the township for those purposes. (fn. 35) In 1647 the curate apparently was excluded and in 1655 he was consequently allowed £4 towards his rent. (fn. 36) The house was used as a school in 1672 (fn. 37) and rebuilt in 1698, when the freehold was acquired for the curate, (fn. 38) who leased it out in 1716 and lived elsewhere in New Brentford c. 1726. (fn. 39) The parish repaired the house in 1773 (fn. 40) and again in 1803, when it was offered to the vicar or, in his absence for six months, to his assistant curate. The house was leased to another tenant when the vicar refused those terms, but on his successor's acceptance it was permanently annexed as the Vicarage in 1805. (fn. 41) After more repairs in 1817, it was dilapidated and again in dispute in 1822. (fn. 42) A house adjoining it to the east was said to have belonged to the attorney-general Sir William Noy (1577-1634); (fn. 43) Noy's house was acquired in 1889 and both were replaced by a new Vicarage. (fn. 44) The clerk's house in the churchyard was uninhabitable in 1743 and may then have been demolished. (fn. 45)
There was a chaplain c. 1179 (fn. 46) and royal gifts were made in 1226 and 1246 to recluses of Brentford. (fn. 47) About 1330 the curate of Brentford was killed in a brawl (fn. 48) and c. 1540 another was a drunkard. (fn. 49) Curates in the 14th and 15th centuries probably lived in New Brentford (fn. 50) and augmentation of the living in 1647 was intended to encourage residence. (fn. 51) Both Dr. Chilcot, curate 1726-69, and Dr. Stoddart, vicar 1837- 42, were pluralists but resident; (fn. 52) Chilcot, like the curate in 1598, kept a local school. (fn. 53) John Horne Tooke, vicar 1760-73, (fn. 54) was sometimes non-resident and in 1822 Sir Robert Peat, vicar 1808-37, had been absent without licence for six months. (fn. 55) There was a parish clerk by 1433. (fn. 56)
Joan Redman gave property towards the salary of the curate and also for an obit, which was observed in 1547. (fn. 57) Her other bequests of 1531 included a cow, pewter vessels for weddings of the poor, and money towards the church house, (fn. 58) which was used for drinkings in support of the poor in 1621. (fn. 59) Richard Byfield (d. 1664), later ejected from the rectory of Long Ditton (Surr.), was lecturer at Brentford in 1643. (fn. 60) The augmentation of 1657 was annexed to an afternoon lecturer, (fn. 61) who later was supported by voluntary subscriptions until at least 1845. (fn. 62) There were two Sunday services, monthly communions, and catechisms in Lent between 1770 and 1828. (fn. 63) Worshippers in 1806 were enjoined to stand, rather than sit, during hymns, to take communion, and to kneel during prayers. (fn. 64) There were attendances of 487, including 190 Sunday school children, in the morning and 387, again including Sunday school children, in the afternoon on census Sunday 1851, and of 163 in the morning and 124 in the afternoon on one Sunday in 1903. (fn. 65)
The existing church of ST. LAWRENCE, New Brentford, on the south side of High Street, is at least the second one on the site. Nothing is visible of the 12th-century chapel and only the 15th-century tower, of Kentish ragstone with Reigate stone dressings, remains from before a rebuilding of 1764. (fn. 66) The existing tower, which presumably replaced the bell tower mentioned in 1373, (fn. 67) stood at the west end of a three-bay nave and two-bay chancel, which had been enlarged by a north chapel before 1496 and a north aisle and north porch with a chamber overhead by 1500. (fn. 68) There were lights to St. Mary in 1378, St. Lawrence, St. Michael, and St. Katherine by 1396, and St. Nicholas by 1475, (fn. 69) and there was a roodloft by 1496. (fn. 70) A gallery existed in 1632, another was added in 1694, the west gallery was altered in 1712, and there were north and west galleries in 1762. (fn. 71) The church was repaired in 1673 (fn. 72) and the tower in 1757, (fn. 73) but in 1762 both walls and roof were decayed, (fn. 74) whereupon services were moved to the Red Lion inn during rebuilding. (fn. 75)
The new church, designed by Boulton Maynwaring and built by Thomas Hardwick the elder, (fn. 76) abutted west on the tower and north-east on the Vicarage, like its predecessor, but extended much farther south. Built of brick, it consisted of a recessed chancel, north-east vestry, and nave with galleries on three sides. (fn. 77) The original intentions to enclose the tower in the nave and to avoid any ornament were not observed. (fn. 78) The church, seating c. 500, was too small by 1797 (fn. 79) but it was not until 1874 that the replacement of the galleries by a south aisle provided 50 extra seats. A north-east organ chamber was built and the chancel was refurnished at that time (fn. 80) and wooden Gothic arcades were inserted in 1889. (fn. 81) Disused from 1911, (fn. 82) the church was dilapidated by 1979, when it was leased to the St. Lawrence, Brentford, Trust. Many fittings were then removed, while the fabric was restored to serve as a theatre. (fn. 83)
Fittings formerly included a plain font of c. 1500, a 15th-century panel with the Berkeley family's arms, (fn. 84) and a brass to William Clavell (d. 1496). (fn. 85) The oldest surviving brass commemorates Henry Redman (d. 1528), the king's master mason, and his family. (fn. 86) In 1834 the chancel walls were covered with tablets and monuments; (fn. 87) many, from the 17th century or later, commemorated the Hawley and Clitherow families, including one to Ann Clitherow (d. 1801) by John Bacon the younger. (fn. 88) Among other memorials are figures of Faith and Hope for William Howell Ewin (d. 1804), the usurer, and his sister Sarah Howell (d. 1808) by John Flaxman, (fn. 89) kneeling wall figures for John Middleton (d. 1624) and his wife, a neo-Greek tablet by J. J. P. Kendrick for Thomas Hardwick the younger (d. 1829), the architect, (fn. 90) and tablets for John Howard (d. 1818) by Sarah Holmes of Brentford and for the Revd. William Cook (d. 1810) in Coade stone. (fn. 91) There was only one chalice in 1669 and 1685 (fn. 92) but the plate later included a silver chalice and paten of 1689, a silver flagon of 1709 by D. Willaume, and other pieces of the 18th century and later. (fn. 93) The six bells in 1955 included one by William Culverden c. 1510. (fn. 94) The registers begin in 1570. (fn. 95)
ST. FAITH, (fn. 96) Windmill Rd., Old Brentford. Mission church of St. Paul's until dist. assigned 1907. (fn. 97) Patron bp. of London. Attendance 1903: 94 a.m.; 148 p.m. Ho. in Windmill Rd. used from 1901, then temp. church by 1903. Bldg. of red brick and stone dressings in early Decorated style 1907 by G. F. Bodley and C. G. Hare: chancel, N. chapel, aisled and clerestoried nave with N. porch, SW. bell turret. Fittings inc. font and altar from chapel of St. James's Palace, Westm. Seating reduced from c. 600 to c. 400 by 1977.
ST. GEORGE, (fn. 98)
Kew Bridge Rd., Old Brentford. Founded as an unconsecrated chapelry with subscriptions first raised 1762 from 57 prominent inhabitants. (fn. 99) Under construction, as George chapel, 1766. (fn. 100) Min. apparently chosen by V. of Ealing 1763 and 1784, although chapel maintained by proprietors until 1820 when it was bought with money raised from sale of waste lands. Min., perhaps normally non-resident, received £30 in 1774, £35 in 1790, and also pew rents in 1797. (fn. 101) Income, after augmentation in 1828, £135 c. 1830, (fn. 102) excluding £40 from lectureship founded 1630 by John Bowman. (fn. 103) Two Sunday services with sermons, up to 50 communicants in 1790. (fn. 104) Consecrated as St. George's church 1828. Dist. assigned 1828 and later, 1865-79, inc. Ealing detached at Stamford Brook. (fn. 105) Patron V. of Ealing. (fn. 106) One asst. curate 1881 and 1935, none 1947. Attendance 1851: 700 (inc. Sunday sch. 300) a.m.; 500 p.m.; (fn. 107) 1903: 229 a.m.; 392 p.m. Brick bldg. in domestic style c. 1766 by J. J. Kirby: pedimented S. front, with entrance in projecting centre, square- and roundheaded windows, cupola. (fn. 108) Seating enlarged to 400 1828, perhaps by galleries, (fn. 109) and to 651 by 1851, when bldg. was too small. Church, in shadow of gasworks, dilapidated 1863 and demol. 1886. (fn. 110) New site bought 1852 (fn. 111) but used for St. Paul's iron church 1861 and another site bought 1881 but made superfluous by St. James's Gunnersbury. Ragstone bldg. in early Decorated style on old site by A. W. Blomfield, seating 600: chancel, SE. chapel, N. organ chamber, nave, S. aisle, base of octagonal SW. tower 1886-7; tower, without projected spire, (fn. 112) 1913. Fittings from old chapel inc. painting of Last Supper by Zoffany c. 1770, (fn. 113) later moved to St. Paul's. Vicarage S. of High St. at Bull Wharf Ho. provided 1866. (fn. 114) Benefice sequestrated 1958 and united with St. Lawrence's and St. Paul's 1961. Church closed 1959 (fn. 115) and used as musical museum from 1963. (fn. 116)
Chiswick High Road, Gunnersbury. Mission church of Christ Church, Turnham Green, in Chertsey Rd. before move 1884 to Blenheim Rd., Chiswick, where served by London Diocesan Home Mission. (fn. 117) Dist. assigned from St. George's, Christ Church, Turnham Green, and All Saints', S. Acton, 1888. (fn. 118) Patron V. of St. George's, then V. of united parishes of Brentford. One asst. curate 1965-6, none 1977-9. Attendance 1903: 186 a.m.; 172 p.m. Kentish ragstone bldg. in Early English style, on site given by Rothschild fam. on Ealing side of Chiswick High Rd., 1887 by T. Chatfeild Clarke: chancel, N. transeptal chapel, vestries, organ chamber, aisled and clerestoried nave, W. baptistery and porches. (fn. 119) Seating reduced from 750 in 1926 to 350 by 1978. (fn. 120)
ST. PAUL, St. Paul's Rd., Old Brentford. Iron church for W. part of Old Brentford provided by Ealing Ruri-Decanal Assoc. on site for projected new St. George's church. (fn. 121) Dist. assigned 1864. (fn. 122) Patron Crown and bp. of London alternately, bp. of London alone by 1915. Two asst. curates 1881, one 1896, none 1926. Attendance 1903: 494 a.m.; 318 p.m. Ragstone bldg. on new site in early Decorated style 1867-8 by H. Francis, seating 700: chancel, N. vestry, aisled and clerestoried nave, S. porch, SW. tower with spire. Chapel in N. aisle 1909 and additions 1918. Restoration, after bomb damage, by M. Farey 1953. (fn. 123) Chapel of ease of St. Lawrence's 1952 (fn. 124) and principal church of united parishes of Brentford from 1961. (fn. 125)