Monuments in Harmondsworth Church, St Mary the Virgin, South Hillingdon, Middlesex

St Mary the Virgin, the Parish Church of Harmondsworth, dates from the 12th -15th Centuries, with the oldest parts being the South aisle, with massive Norman columns, and the entrance. According to the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments, the North aisle is 13th Century, the North Chapel probably 14th Century, and there was remodelling of the chancel in the 15th Century, with the tower built in 1500. The Nave is of mixed date, as would be expected with everything on all sides being built and rebuilt, with parts from the 13th Century onwards. The 19th Century saw a restoration and addition of the porch and vestry. From the exterior, the closely set trees make it difficult to see the Church as a whole, and the enduring image is of the blocky, square tower, brick built with a little cupola on top bearing the weather vane (pictures above), rather than the flint and stonework body of the Church.

The Church is situated in the southern part of Hillingdon, Middlesex, a 20 minute stroll from West Drayton, and about five miles south of Uxbridge. Rather too close to Heathrow for comfort, much of the Parish could be obliterated if the airport expands.

The Church has an evocative interior, with open, beamed roof to the nave of the 15th Century, and narrow aisles separated from the nave by arches of differing dates, and the layout and furnishings appear to be the same as they were 100 years ago, when the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments did their survey.

The entrance, which has been moved, is an exquisite Norman doorway, 12th Century, with what intriguingly look more like Saxon carvings all the way round, perhaps by Saxon craftsmen working in the style they knew for their new masters, surrounded by conventional Norman chevrons (zig zags). The relief carvings include concentric circles and other simple geometric shapes on the innermost border with around them what appear to be stylised bird’s heads with sharp beaks. The porch, a 19th Century addition in keeping with the Church, has been set with modern stained glass echoing the designs from this doorway, an inspired thought.

12th Century doorway.

Monuments:

Harmondsworth Church has a modest number of monuments, nothing with sculptured figures, but at least a couple of winged cherub heads, and a few fairly grand architectural wall monuments, including two obelisk monuments. Two others of the monuments are by a Middlesex firm of sculptor masons, Burgiss of Uxbridge, and along with the several Classical monuments, and plain black and white ones from the early 19th Century, there is an example of a Victorian Gothic panel.

We may note a couple of modern brasses:

Also in the Church:

Sample stained glass panels from St Mary Harmondsworth.

Outside the Church:

Outside, the Churchyard contains examples of several of the main types of churchyard monument, including several raised ledger stones and chest tombs, among with are a few with their iron railings intact, but these are of architectural rather than sculptural interest. However, we may note that among the gravestones are two or three with skulls carved in relief as memento mori, including a profile skull with crossed branches underneath, to Ann Dauly.

View of Churchyard, a chest tomb with iron railings, and Dauly monument with skull.

Close to the Church is a 14th or 15th Century barn among a group of interesting agricultural or industrial buildings.

With many thanks to the Church authorities for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; their website is http://stmaryharmondsworth.webs.com/history.htm.

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West Drayton Church, Hillingdon // Harlington Parish Church // Hayes Parish Church // Uxbridge Parish Church // Hillingdon Parish Church

Burgiss of Uxbridge, stonemasons // 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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