Mitcham Church monuments, South London (formerly Surrey)
Mitcham Church, St Peter & St Paul, contains almost 40 panel monuments, mostly fairly modest ones,
but including one giant panel to Sir Ambrose Crowley, a fine sculpture of a girl by Sir Richard Westmacott RA,
three other works with sculptured portraits in relief, and various pots and floral ornaments.
A feature of the monuments is the large number which still bear the signature of the maker,
including more humble and local stone masons as well as several of the Westmacott dynasty of sculptors, and a work by the accomplished Peter Rouw.
The Church building
But first the Church building itself. St Peter and St Paul Church, Mitcham was put up in 1819-1822,
to the designs of the architect George Smith. It retains the base of the tower from the medieval church on the site,
which had survived damage by lightning in 1639 only to be pulled down in Georgian times to make way for this larger church,
happily retaining at least some of the old monuments. There have been mixed views on it, with one critic saying it was
‘rebuilt in the style of that most dreary period [of George IV], when churchwardens and ‘compo’ [i.e. a composition of sand
and lime or cement to face brickwork] architects ran riot without fear of censure from a public which knew little and cared
less about the mysteries of ‘the Gothic’ style.’ Before rather contradicting himself by saying that the new church ‘is,
by comparison, a rather good specimen of the Gothic of the Georgian era; and it seems to have been erected regardless of expense,
both the nave and the side aisles being vaulted in stone or cement’.
St Peter and St Paul, Mitcham Parish Church.
From the outside, the view to the modern eye is rather good, from the road side or within the extensive churchyard,
with a pleasing asymmetry. The battlemented tower with its corner turrets at the top and ancient base is a feature,
and the generous aisles have a buttress between each window. From a distance it appears without ornament,
but when walking around the outside we see a series of small carved heads, tending to the gargoyle,
mixed with mostly Clerical personages.
Inside, the interior is broad, with the chief feature being the vaulted and ribbed ceilings.
The Church is bright, white, and on every wall we see the monumental panels.
Interior view of Mitcham Church, and the vaulted ceiling of the nave.
We can divide the monuments into three groups, with 1800 and 1840 as the dividing lines. Although this means that the middle group
encompasses both panels pre-dating and post-dating the current Church building on the site, it is convenient from the point of view
of the monuments themselves, as then the second group encompasses almost all the white-on-black panels so predominant
in the first decades of the 19th Century.
Monuments up to 1800
- Thomas Pynner, d.1583. The oldest monument in the Church is to the right of the Reredos,
very high up and hard to read. He was Chief Clerk Comptroller to Queen Elizabeth, and the monument was erected by ‘the Ladye Marye Colepeper
[Lady Mary Culpepper]... late wife of Sir Thomas Colepeper of Aylesford in the County of Kent, Knight, and sole daughter of the
sayd Thomas...’ in 1608. Black panel with closely set text, which is the norm for the time, and upon it, a carved shield of arms,
now blank, with knight’s helm and mantling, in a roundel and supported on scrolls. This is likely the surviving element of perhaps
a quite complicated panel of several parts.
Thomas Pynner, erected 1608, and Bridget Glover, d.1709.
- Bridget Glover, d.1709, and daughter Ann Glover, d.1751, and noting
Sarah Glover, d.1703, and Gabriel Glover, d.1709. Classical panel with receding sides,
curved pediment above, shelf and bell-shaped apron below, in different-coloured marbles. By a stonemason called Wood of Chelsea.
Sir Ambrose Crowley, d.1713, and Dame Mary (Owen) Crowley, d.1727.
- Sir Ambrose Crowley, d.1713, and his wife Dame Mary (Owen) Crowley, d.1727.
A massive panel filling one wall of the baptistery, to a very rich iron master, whose Gateshead business
specialised in making anchors and other iron parts, right down to screws and nails, for the Royal Navy.
Though the size of the monument is impressive, the design is essentially a scaled up version of many smaller,
though still grand panels. There are essentially three levels. The middle level comprises the inscribed panel,
in stained white marble, which is cut with feet and lines of little triangles, a common design,
and which is set on a surround of streaky black and white marble. There is a shelf above this, bearing a scrolly pediment
with a cherub head in the center, veiled in drapes. Similar S-shaped scrolly devices adorn the sides of this level,
and all this sits on a great block of protruding marble. Underneath this is a thick shelf, and then the lower level,
with a rounded base, curly brackets, ornamental rather than functional, in a dark marble, and a central cartouche,
well carved, with the remnants of a painted shield of arms upon it. The upper level of the monument has a central double portrait
in profile of Sir Ambrose and Dame Mary, he in front with a wig, and wearing a buttoned garment with a robe on top;
she behind with swept back hair, and a low cut dress. Well composed. The portraits are within a roundel carved upon a square,
inside a larger frame, with a receding frame to the outsides, and small scrolling. Above, a shelf and pediment,
on top of which sprawl two nude cherubs, each clutching a handkerchief, either side of a central bowl-shaped pot.
Pevsner, the architectural historian, gives this monument to the eminent sculptor J.M. Rysbrack, quoting from Gunnis,
but Gunnis gives no such reference. Could the monument be by Rysbrack? It is not implausible going by the date,
and the cherubs are in his style, but then many cherubs look like this. The monument used to hang on the outer wall of the Church.
- Elizabeth Cranmer, d.1719, and Joseph Cranmer, d.1722.
A tall obelisk monument, the obelisk resting on a lower part shaped as a casket tomb. The inscribed panel
is actually placed on the obelisk, which is less common, and above it is a small pot and a painted shield of arms
within a cartouche. The whole obelisk is in a brecciated grey and white marble much favoured at this period.
The Cranmers were a grand family, property owners in the Mitcham area, who claimed descent from Archbishop Cranmer –
their arms, with three pelicans, are to the left of the shield.
- William Myers, d.1742. The monument is in a corner, and was made for it.
It features a rather splendid pot, with ribbons and drapery tied around it, in a round-headed niche
forming something of a Classical portico, except that the little open pediment on top has curved sides,
giving it almost an oriental look. Down the sides, carved chains of flowers, and scrolls, and there is a something missing
in the pediment, likely a shield of arms. The marble is an exciting one of purple and grey and white.
Beneath is the inscribed panel, and then a base tucked into the corner, with two cartouches carved upon it. Impressive.
William Myers and Henry Allcraft, early and late 18th Century decorated monuments.
- Frances Parsons, d.1742.(?). An oval panel in a thin frame, all in whitish streaked marble,
difficult to read, and supported on a corbel carved into a ball of leaves.
Such vertical oval panels appear in the later 17th Century, and are dotted through the 18th Century,
and this is not untypical of the type (see the page introducing church monuments).
- Nathaniel Haggatt, d.1748. Classical panel, with receding sides, upper and lower shelves,
the lower one more substantial and supported upon curled brackets, and with a lower, shaped part called an apron.
On top is a small triangle, which is likely the central part of a thick pediment which has been lost.
The marble is white with grey streaks, quite arresting.
- John Evanson, d.1778. Plain rectangle with a frame, and brackets with mouldings below.
- Henry Allcraft, d.1779. A nice panel with the top cut to a semicircle, and upon that,
an Alladin’s Lamp style funereal urn, with narrow base and curly handles, is carved in high relief. It is draped,
and stands upon a plinth which rests upon a thin shelf. The lower part of the panel contains the inscription,
and an inset, rather unusual apron, a semicircle with fluting, and a central painted shield of arms upon a circle.
Some side pieces at the lower part appear to have been removed. The background is a heavily quartzed marble, most striking.
The monument is signed by C. Harris, who is Charles Harris of the Strand, London, and this is the earliest of three panels
in Mitcham Church by this stone mason.
- Miss Sophia Tate, d.1780. The first of the various monuments to the Tate family in the Church,
another oval composition, but quite ornate. The inscribed panel is on a tomb-chest end, with upper shelf and lower feet,
and is on a carved drapery, nicely done. On top of this is a tall pot carved in low relief, with a wilting vine looped across it,
through the handles, and hanging gracefully down on each side. Under the panel is a pair of little carved festoons of leaves,
and what appears at first glance to be a circle, but is then seen to be a snake swallowing its tail, symbol of eternity.
The whole thing is attached to a larger oval of dark marble, providing a frame. Light and elegant,
this is again the work of C. Harris, London. See picture below left (you will need to click to enlarge to see the snake).
Early Tate monuments, late 18th Century: Sophia Tate, Martha Tate, Maria Tate.
- Benjamin Tate, d.1790, erected by his wife. The third monument in the Church signed by C. Harris.
Restrained Classical with a plain frame around the inscription, upper cornice, and a low ‘roof’.
At the base, a slightly projecting shelf with a low relief repeating pattern, and below this,
a curved apron bearing upon it the painted shield of arms, and crossed branches of palm and perhaps olive.
- Martha Tate, d.1795. An obelisk monument, much shorter than the Elizabeth Cranmer monument noted above.
Here the obelisk is about half the height of the whole monument, and is cut from dark grey stone in front of which is
a delicately carved pot or funereal urn in hight relief, with narrow stem and top, and garland of flowers between the handles,
which are fashioned as rams’ heads. There is a prominent shelf beneath this, which is usual, and this forms the top of a casket-end,
with outward sloping sides, and feet in the form of curved brackets. There are nicely carved hanging oak branches to left and right,
and a bit of calligraphy in the ‘In Memory’ part of the inscription. Beneath, a curved apron of the same dark marble
as the obelisk has upon it a small painted shield of arms - see picture, above centre. The monument is signed by the obscure mason Waddilove,
and though I could not be sure, the initial is apparently J.
- Maria Tate, 1798, with a dark marble border with flowers at the corners, and on top,
a tall pot in white marble, covered asymmetrically with a drape which hangs down somewhat on either side of the inscribed panel - see picture above right.
It is signed ‘Westmacott, London’, and the date means it could either be Richard Westmacott the elder, or possibly,
an early work of his more prolific and illustrious son Sir Richard Westmacott RA. (See this page for
a note on the different Westmacotts who made church monuments).
- Martha Maria James, d.1798 (wife of David James, noted below). Classical panel with upper shelf,
and a swan-necked (curly) pediment with anemone (anthemion) decoration, on a backing panel of streaky grey marble –
about as late as such marble was fashionable for the next century – cut with pediment and ‘ears’ - see picture below. It is signed by Westmacott Junior,
London. The date is too early for the third in the Westmacott dynasty, who we know today as Richard Westmacott Jr,
so unless the monument was made a long time after Martha James died, this would be by his father, Sir Richard Westmacott RA,
signing as junior to the elder Westmacott.
Monuments from 1800s-1830s
- David James, d.1800, of Serjeants-Inn, London. The inscription on the side of a tomb-chest end,
with little feet and an upper shelf. On top of this rests a fine, broad pot or funereal urn, with drapes from each handle.
On an oval backing of dark, streaky marble rather than the usual rectangle. The signature is Westmacott Junior, London,
again, see note above.
- Maria Kent, d.1800. Plain oval panel with a slight rim.
- William Sibthorpe Myers, d.1810, sister Frances Myers, d.1829,
brother Captain James Myers, d.1830, and sister Eliza Burges. d.1837.
Pale blotchy marble panel with upper gable – it is too tall for its breadth to be called a pediment –
within which is an angled cross with a P through it. On top of this is a small scrolly device.
Underneath is a recess with carved within it a wide pot, and there is a surround of leaves and a ribbon underneath.
The whole thing is on a shaped backing panel of streaky grey marble. Signed R. Westmacott, London,
and this one is presumably Sir Richard Westmacott RA again.
- James Garth, d.1812, erected by his friend, S.D. Myers, Vicar, whose tablet is also in the Church.
Grey streaky marble panel, favoured in Mitcham Church, with the white inscribed panel having underneath it
a finely carved pair of olive branches. Above, a painted shield of arms with a sheep on top or perhaps a plump deer,
and rosettes to the corners. By Henry Westmacott, London, brother of Sir Richard Westmacott RA,
and a modest maker of church monuments in his own right.
Henry Westmacott's panel to James Garth, d.1812.
- Thomas Worsfold, d.1816. A diamond shaped panel, really a square on its edge like a hatchment,
in streaky white marble on a dark backing.
- John Hyde, d.1816, and wife Frances Hyde, d.1803, erected by their children.
A complicated design in several sections. At the top, a profile portrait carved in relief of the deceased, wearing a short wig,
and surrounded by a drape. In front are a beehive (symbol here of business, for John Hyde was a merchant),
and a staff with two snakes wrapped round it - which is the Caduceus of Mercury, God of travel and hence here commerce and trade
(see this page). Appropriate for the man, but how interesting to have such a blatantly pagan symbology
in the Church. The backing is a black pointed leaf shape. Below this, the second stage is a round-headed arch
within which are a pair of funereal urns, representing the married couple; to the sides are fluted edgings.
Beneath this, the inscription on a panel, and this has an apron underneath, with shield of arms and crossed branches in relief,
and to the sides, a pair of just-opening flowers to act as terminals. These are characteristic of the Rouw brothers,
Peter Rouw the Younger and Henry Rouw. The monument is signed by Rouw, London, and is given to Peter Rouw the Younger by Gunnis,
the monument historian – today, any initial P cannot be seen. But the attribution feels right, given the similarity of this work to another by Peter Rouw,
in Birmingham Cathedral, to Moses Haughton, d.1804.
Rouw's panel to John Hyde, d.1816, upper part.
- John Hallett, d.1812, and his wife Hanna Hallett, d.1830.
We saw a tall obelisk for Elizabeth Cranmer, and a shorter one for Martha Tate – this one is shorter still, maybe two fifths
of the height of the whole piece, and broad. Within it is a Classical urn without handles on a thin stem.
This stands on a shelf, underneath which is the inscribed panel, under which is the apron, now blank but with the outline
of perhaps a shield of arms or cartouche and some symmetrical decoration which presumably were stuck on.
Below, a single small support.
- Mrs Elizabeth Ann Hall, d.1820. Plain rectangular panel on a dark backing.
- Elizabeth Tate, d.1821, and her brother William Tate, d.1814,
and sister Mrs Ann Tate, d.1817, erected by their cousin, Mrs Maria Beckford.
A tall panel with a fine Classical girl carved upon it. She stands in three-quarter view, her forward hand holding a cup,
her head turned backwards, and her other arm raised – the hand has been broken off. Her face is youthful, Grecian,
and she has long wavy hair down to the shoulder. Here drapery is harmonious and deceptively simple, but with well caught folds
and broad surfaces to give interest to the design. She stands barefoot on two shallow steps. It is signed by Richard Westmacott RA,
South Audley Street, so this one at least is most certainly Sir Richard Westmacott RA, the most illustrious of the Westmacotts.
A beautiful thing.
Sir Richard Westmacott RA's sculpture of Elizabeth Tate, d.1821.
- James Dempster, d.1821. A casket end shape reduced to almost a pentagon on tiny feet,
with on top of it a small Roman lantern style pot. On a taller, black pentagonal backing. This shape was not unusual
at about this time.
- George Tate, d.1822, erected by his daughter. A return of the Gothic monument, here with a Tudor look,
with the inscribed panel with the shallowest of peaks in the centre, three quatrefoils above, and a balustrade of repeating designs
of the Gothic type known as crocketing. Down the sides are tiny blank window shapes with heart-shaped tops.
The base was hidden behind a board and I did not see it.
- Streynsham Derbyshire Myers, d.1824, Vicar of the Church, and his wife,
Elizabeth, d.1849. Rather similar to the panel to William Sibthorpe Myers noted above,
without the carving of the pot, but a line of wave ornaments in low relief across the bottom.
The last monument in the Church signed by Richard Westmacott, South Audley Street, London.
- Bird, George, 1826. Another white-on-black panel, rather simple,
being a tomb-chest end with a small shelf. It is pictured as the small panel beside the William Myers monument, near the top of this page.
- Henry Hoare, d.1828. Simple panel cut to pediment shape above, but including a low relief profile portrait,
showing him in old age, with swept back hair and determined look. By Henry Weekes, the eminent portrait sculptor,
and dated as late as 1842.
Henry Weekes portait of Henry Hoare, and William Bailey by J.E. Thomas.
- Peter Batts Haydon, d.1828, and wife Sophia, d.1848.
Another white on black panel, made as a tomb chest end with small feet below, upper shelf, and a lid.
- James Moore, d.1831. One of the more sculptural white on black panels.
The inscription is on a casket-end with outward leaning sides, on top of which is the usual shelf,
here with scrolly sidepieces, and a central shelf on which stands a rotund pot. Out of this emerges
a dying bush or miniature tree, its profuse leaves hanging down over and around the pot.
The backing to the upper portion is a very shallow obelisk, and the rest is cut with ears to the sides,
and a rounded space at the base which would once have held some device, now lost.
- James Alexander Myers, d.1835. Plain plaque with mouldings at the edge on a grey marble backing slab.
- William Bailey, d.1834, Iron Merchant of Bankside, Southwark.
With upper sheld and a swan-necked or scrolled pediment, decorated with low relief scrolling
and anemone or anthemion patterns. Below the inscription, a line of repeating pattern,
then a thick base and moulded supports. On a shaped black backing and signed by John Evan Thomas,
a notable sculptor, known for his portrait busts and several statues in Cardiff and elsewhere in Wales.
Monuments after 1840
- William Ness, d.1843, plain, with central shelf, by R.Brown, 58 Great Russell St, London –
a mason who is responsible for various mostly humble panels around London - (see this page).
This is one of his standard designs.
- Captain George Moore Ellis, d.1845. Vertical format panel with upper decorated mouldings
and pediment with a tilted cross and letter P within it – see the earlier Myers monuments. Below the inscription is a roundel
with a nice Lamb of God carved within it, and around the circle, ripe corn and grapes signifying fruitfulness.
On a grey marble backing. Signed by Noakes & Pearce, New Road. Really rather delicately done, and the sheep
has a personality of its own, with curious snub-nosed charm, and an appearance of being shorn bar the heavy tail (for more sheep sculpture, see this page).
In St James Garlickhythe in the City is another work by this partnership, showing a shield hanging from a ribbon, and there is another piece by them in All Saints, Carshalton.
Noakes and Pearce's tablet to Ellis, and Burke & Co's one to Bartley.
- Harriett Harris, d.18??, and husband Francis Harris, d.1849.
Mid-Victorian times saw the revival of the Gothic, including in church monuments, and this is a nice example
of a blind window style Gothic panel. The inscription is in the centre, and around is the window frame,
here with five lobes at the top, and in Tudor style, a squared off outer frame with thin lights in the roughly triangular shapes
(spandrels) above the arch.
- John Parrott, d.1860. Plain white rectangle on black.
- Alfred Collett Bartley, d.1845, wife Charlotte O’Hara Bartley, d.1872,
and two of their children, Anna Maria Bartley, d.1841, and Charlotte E.M. Bartley, d.1869,
erected in 1874 by a surviving sibling. Small panel with raised centre, and a small carving of an open book with a Biblical quote,
by Burke & Co, 144 Regent St, London, whose tablets include simple Classical and Gothic examples –
a case of the latter is in Harmondsworth.
- George Parker Bidder, d.1896. An interesting monument, with a bronze relief portrait
of the deceased in profile, under a blocky arch somewhat reminiscent of that once at Euston.
The inscription is in a sans serif capital font. Mr Bidder is shown with an intelligent, humorous face,
and sporting the most enormous sideburns. A good piece, and I wander who the sculptor was.
- Gladys Isabel (Wilson) Blount, d.1910, at Ootacamund, India, and husband
Capt. G.H.R. Blount, d.1914 at St Nazaire, France in the Battle of the Marne.
Typical Arts and Crafts panel, with the inscription surrounded by a narrow gilt leafy border, and then a characteristic pinky-brown
and white marble or alabaster frame. Satisfyingly decorative and precious - see picture at top of page, far right.
- Daniel Frederic Wilson, d.1918, Vicar of the Church and Holy Canon of Southwark.
Another panel with a portrait in a roundel, carved in relief and almost in profile. He is shown in old age,
and with a grand Victorian beard. Beneath the inscription is the remaining ribbon from a lost shield of arms.
The work is by Gaffin of Regent St, the most prolific of stone masons of the times, and is one of their better pieces.
How different from the Gladys Isabel (Wilson) Blount panel noted above.
Gaffin of Regent Street: panel to Daniel Wilson.
- Douglas-Walter Drewett, d.1918, near St Quentin, of the Cameron Highlanders. Pale with border,
wreath and St Andrew’s Cross above, and Regimental heraldic panel, coloured, below, with heavily coiled ribbons in relief.
Hearkening back to Arts and Crafts style.
- Robert Masters Chart, d.1942, churchwarden, and wife Florence Chart, d.1939.
Conventional vertical format white on black panel, with upper shelf, lower supports with mouldings,
and the only thing giving away the date being the odd shape of the black backing panel. According to information in the Church guide,
he was the grandson of the original builder of the Church.
- Albert Ernest Champion, d.1951, Verger and Parish Clerk. By this date,
all ornament was generally frowned upon, and we see a typical pale stone panel with moulded edging.
Also in the Church:
- World War I Memorial. A rather splendid one, as a tall triptych centred on a figure of
St George and the Dragon in splendid Arts and Crafts style, heavily gilt - see picture at top of page. The details, especially the hands of
St George and the head of the Dragon, are excellent. For more St George and the Dragon sculpture, see this page.
- The Reredos, made in 1890, and gilt and painted in the 1950s, with a loss of detail and a reduction
in dignity. It shows the Last Supper under a broad Gothic structure.
Painted reredos, 1890.
- Brass Eagle Lectern, presumably from a similar date to the Reredos.
- The pulpit, a low, multi-sided one, with painted panels between shafts of differently coloured marbles.
The panels show Christ the Shepherd, and a sower of seeds in a field with crows, in a rather sentimental style characteristic
of the later 19th Century.
- The Font, dated 1877, hexagonal with simply patterned sides and sculptured heads
all the way round at the base of the bowl.
- Several 19th Century brasses from the early 20th Century, with black letter text with initials in red, the usual style at the time.
Pulpit and font.
Mitcham is today within South London, in the Borough of Merton, but before the expansion of the metropolis lay within Surrey.
It is one of a group of churches along what may be described as the Surrey border.
With many thanks to the authorities at Mitcham Parish Church for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; the Church website is
Top of page
Monuments in some London Churches // Churches in the City of London // Introduction to church monuments
Other Surrey border church monuments: Battersea Church // Carshalton Church // Epsom Church // Beddington Church
// Merton Church // Morden Church // Wimbledon tramline monuments
Angel statues // Cherub sculpture //
London sculpture // Sculptors
Visits to this page from 20 July 2016: 1919