Twickenham Church Monuments, South West London

Twickenham Church, dedicated to St Mary, is fairly low, with a modest square tower of stone with buttresses and crenellations, but its commanding position on a rise gives it prominence; this tower dates from the 15th Century Church on the site, and the rest of the building, in brick, represents a new building of 1714-15, by the eminent architect John James, a contemporary of Hawksmoor and with him, being one of the surveyors for the 50 New Churches initiative of 1716, by which he built St George Hanover Square. The remarkable weathervane of cast iron on the old tower, with the vane itself cut into what appears to be a toothy monster, is from the 18th Century rebuild.

Twickenham Church, St Mary.

Inside, the Church is bright and high. At the altar end is a full-height arch, with a round window of moderate dimension above the Reredos. The main windows, down the length of the Church, are arched, semicircular on the upper level, segmental below. There are full length galleries to the sides of the nave, with monuments all the way upstairs and downstairs

Approach to Twickenham Church by water, mid-19th Century view.

Monuments

The collection is extensive and broad, some 50-odd monumental panels, 9 each from the 17th and 18th Centuries, over 30 from the 19th Century, and a few into the 20th. They cover some of the most favoured types of wall monument: Classical, including on a grand scale, hanging drapes, obelisk monuments, and those from the 1800s and thereabouts designed as the ends of caskets or chest tombs. The sculptural efforts include a pair of early portrait busts, very fine, one girl with a pot in high relief, several cherubs and rather more winged cherub heads, and the usual draped and undraped pots, in the round and in relief, and minor decorations.

All the monuments are in beautiful condition, extremely well looked after. Almost a third of them are either signed or known to be by particular sculptors: the collection includes work b the eminent and prolific Sir Richard Westmacott RA, the less eminent but equally prolific John Bacon Junior, the excellent J.M. Rysbrack and Peter Scheemakers among big names. The monument to the most important personage buried in the Church, the poet Alexander Pope, is by Prince Hoare of Bath, the simple one to his parents (and himself) is by Francis Bird, and there is also work by several minor statuaries and masons, including a local man, John Mason of Twickenham.

17th Century Monuments

17 Century: Francis and Susan Poulton, and Lord Berkeley.

Corner with the Harvie monument.

18th Century Monuments

19th Century Monuments

Angelina Barry monument, with broken flower.

20th Century Monuments

James Bigwood MP, d.1919.

Also in the Church

Tomb chests in the churchyard.

Outside, the Church stands in its own grassy churchyard. The monuments are mostly plain, but we can note one to Mary Beach, d.1725, the nurse of Alexander Pope, who erected the monument, and another to Thomas Twining, d.1741, and added later, his wife Margaretta, d.1751, erected by their children to the memory of ‘a most Indulgent and Worthy Parent’. The piece has a Classical surround, open pediment, with supports to the sides bearing small carved hanging flowers. At the base is a central shield of arms in a cartouche. There are several tomb chests, neatly looked after, and among the various slabs now placed up against the walls of the enclosure, a few with minor carving in relief, e.g.a skull and crossbones as a memento mori, and one with a pair of winged cherub heads. Round towards the river side are the hexagonal base of perhaps a bird table or sundial, to Nora Aris, d.1960, without adornment, and a Churchyard Cross with Crucifixion, as a War Memorial.

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

Thomas Twining, d.1741, exterior monument.

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Also in Twickenham: York House Gardens statues // Radnor Gardens War Memorial

Nearby: Teddington Church monuments // Mortlake Church monuments // Kew Church monuments // Richmond Church monuments

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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