Monuments in Acton Parish Church, St Mary

According to a 1908 brass panel in the Church, Acton had a church on the site from at least 1220, a new church was erected in 1550, and it was partly rebuilt and enlarged in 1837 under the Rector William Antrobus, whose monument and bust we shall meet below. The nave and chancel was replaced in 1865, under the Rector Edward Parry, who also has a memorial (along with one to his brother); in 1877, the tower, which I think was the last remnant of the 1550s building, was replaced, under Charles Musgrave Harvey, who has a modern brass in the Church, and in 1906 a new vestry and south door added, under the Rector George Spencer De Sausmarez, who again has a brass. The exterior of the Church is thus plainly 19th Century, in red brick with white dressings, the main feature being the tall tower, battlemented at the top. H. Francis was the architect.

Acton Parish Church of St Mary

Inside, the Church is fully pewed, with clustered pillars rising to tall Gothic arches along the sides of the Nave, rather tall, rather dark, atmospheric, and packed with small monuments, the interest of these pages. I saw nearly 60, not counting another 10 or 11 modern brasses, some of great age, preserved from the 1550s church. They are mostly simple plaques with little or no sculptural decoration, but include an excellent ancient brass, two good cartouche monuments, a portrait bust from the late 18th Century, and several with minor sculptural decoration: relief pots and foliage and the like. (There is a lobby I was unable to see with further monuments from the end of the 17th and early 18th Century) The large number gives a sense of the changing styles of simpler monuments over a long period, and there are numerous early 19th Century black and white panels, showing several of the more usual designs, and a very nice sequence of seven memorials in the style of Gothic windows, ranging from 1859 to as late as 1914. Alas, many of them are in a poor state of preservation and need cleaning and some protection from the effects of damp.

We consider them in date order, turning afterwards to the modern brasses and, briefly, other features of interest in the Cburch.

16th and 17th Century Monuments:

18th Century Monuments:

19th Century Monuments:

20th Century Monuments:

Modern brasses

Also in the Church:

The Churchyard:

Outside the Church, a small portion of the churchyard survives behind railings, and a wander reveals several chest tombs, which as typical of the breed are of architectural rather than sculptural significance, some headstones of which a few have minor sculptural decoration at the top – lamps, decaying winged cherub heads, crossed branches. In the most obscure corner, under a tree, is something more interesting: a tall obelisk monument in pale stone, the obelisk (Egyptian symbol of death and resurrection) resting on a plinth hollowed out to form a circular arch under which rests an elegant pot. There is low relief decorative carving on the arch spandrels, and a little way up the obelisk is a coat of arms. The monument commemorates members of the Way family: John Way, d.1804, Anne Way, d.1777, and Mary Way, d.1818, the latter added to the already-existing monument. According to Gunnis, the sculptural historian, this monument is the work of John Bacon Junior, who we met in the slight monument to John North, noted above.

John Way monument, by John Bacon Jr.

With many thanks to the Church authorities for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; their website is http://www.stmaryacton.org.uk/welcome/.

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Nearby Ealing Parish Church (St Mary) and Hammersmith Parish Church (St Paul)

Monuments in some London Churches // Churches in the City of London // Introduction to church monuments

Angel statues // Cherub sculpture

London sculpture // Sculptors

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