St Mary Rotherhithe monuments

St Mary Rotherhithe, of ancient origin, was rebuilt as a Renaissance style brick building in 1714-15 (and dated thus on the rainwater heads), the architect being John James, with the tower added in the 1730s of 40s (the date is uncertain despite a stone on the corner inscribed T.T. 1747) by Launcelot Dowbiggin, apparently in a fashion not dissimilar to his tower at St Mary’s Islington, which I have not seen. The steeple was repaired by George Dance the Younger in 1782, then the spire rebuilt in 1861. The trees around the Church mean it is this steeple and square tower which is most notable from any distance, and especially that little spire on top, circular in cross section with little pillars all the way round; it is a distinctive part of the view from along the riverside.

Inside, the Church was reordered and restored by William Butterfield in 1876, but many of the fittings are 18th Century. The dark wooden pews and gallery, combined with terra cotta near the chancel and a red and blue carpet down the nave, give an atmospheric feel to the Church, while the white walls and barrel-shaped, panelled ceiling impart height and light.

Moving to the interest of this website, which is the monuments, there are about 25 monumental panels in all, a few from the old church on the site, four good ones from the 18th Century, and most of the rest being Victorian. A feature of the 19th Century panels is for the white inscribed panel to be on a white backing panel (rather than the more usual black one), with its own supports, again less usual.

St Mary Rotherhithe, exterior, spire, and interior.

16th and 17th Century monuments:

Captain Anthony Wood, d.1625.

18th Century monuments:

19th Century monuments:

Prince Lee Boo's commemorative panel.

20th Century panels:


We note one ancient brass with a picture:

Also in the Church:

More woodwork: organ, one of the angels, and the Coat of Arms.


There is a small churchyard around the Church, including Prince Lee Boo’s monument, the burial ground across the street having been relaid out as a public garden. There is a Georgian house next to the Rectory with painted statues of Charity Children, a boy and a girl – this is the premises of the Amicable Society’s school founded by Peter Hills in 1613, noted above.

With thanks to Fr Mark Nicholls for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; the Church website is at

Amicable Society with charity children, and the churchyard.

Top of page

West to St Mary Bermondsey // or Bermondsey Town Hall // South via Lower Road through to St Nicholas Deptford // and St Paul Deptford

Go South West to the Caryatids in Southwark Park

Other London Churches // London sculpture // Introduction to church monuments

Angel statues // Cherub sculpture


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