St Mary's Church, Battersea and its Monuments

St Mary’s Church Battersea is made of yellowish London brick, with edgings of stone, and has a short square tower with a clock and steeple above the four-columned Ionic porch. It is the view from the front of this porch with the tower which give the Church its characteristic rocket-like appearance; the closeness of the surrounding trees and buildings means that the views from further away to the side are principally of the tower. It dates from 1775-77, the work of Richard Dixon, to the plans of the architect Joseph Dixon, after the old and decaying church on the site was declared irreparable by Dixon himself.

St Mary Battersea, by Richard and Joseph Dixon, 1770s.

Inside, the Church is of rectangular form with a projecting chancel, and there are galleries on the other three sides. The interior was fiddled with by Blomfield in the 1870s, but reverently so. All is white and pale and bright. The monuments which we have come to see are scattered around the walls on the ground floor and in the galleries, where the more precious ones are. They number a little over 40, including eight or nine (one is a brass) preserved from the previous church on the site, all of significance. These early monuments include four fine cartouches, an obelisk monument, a pair of portrait busts by the eminent sculptor Nicholas Stone, and a pair of portraits in relief which are by the no less eminent and far better remembered Roubiliac. The later monuments include two with figure sculpture and an early 20th Century portrait, but are mostly of the common white-on-black panels, not overly decorated, forming the majority of monuments in so many British churches. However they are interesting in showing some of the usual types of such panels – tomb-chest ends, caskets, with draped pots and pediments and little feet – and in that many of them have been signed by the masons and sculptors who made them. Alongside various local and obscure artists, we have one by Richard Westmacott Junior, one by Henry Weekes, two by James Bubb, one by Samuel Joseph, and two by Charles Regnart, all significant sculptors in their own right, and a good monument from Mrs Coade’s artificial stone manufactury.

View of some of the monuments.

Monuments

1630-1751 (monuments taken from previous Church):

Monuments from 1792 onwards (new Church)

Brass

Also in the Church:

View of St Mary's showing the high pulpit.

Outside:

The Church stands in its own small churchyard, mostly cleared, but with a few decaying tablets against the walls, and a couple of 19th Century tomb chests still in place – one has the markings of long-gone iron railings round it.

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

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Battersea was once part of Surrey, becoming officially part of London in 1899. Other churches on the Surrey borders noted on this website include: St Martin's, Epsom // All Saints Carshalton // St Mary's, Beddington // St Mary the Virgin, Merton // and St Lawrence, Morden

Some other London Churches // Introduction to church monuments

London sculpture // Sculptors

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