Monuments in Beddington Church (St Mary), Surrey

Beddington Church, on the railway line out of London towards Epsom and thence the south coast, has two early grand monuments and several monumental panels from the 18th and 19th Century, various brasses old and new, and a splendid and complete decorated organ gallery by William Morris and Co.

A flint church with pale stone dressings, it has a fine site by an open space so that we can get a clear view of the square tower, three stories with newel tower, and the low-roofed body of the Church behind. What we see from the outside is mostly 19th Century, including the tower, but the porch is 15th Century. Inside, the Church gives an impression of breadth, with the nave separated from the aisles by hexagonal columns below Gothic arches. The Carew family were Lords of the Manor since about 1360, and gave money to erect the Church in 1390, and there is a chapel to them built by Richard Carew in 1520 with important tombs of the 16th and 17th Centuries. The later monuments include examples of the work of the notable sculptor John Bacon Junior, and two of the Westmacott dynasty. The 19th Century work on the Church, by the architect Joseph Clarke, took place from the late 1860s, and includes the aforementioned screened organ gallery, highly decorated, by Morris and Company.

St Mary Beddington, exterior and interior views, and late Victorian appearance.

Monuments

Carew Family Monuments

The village of Beddington was dominated by the Carew Family, who lived in a grand Elizabethan mansion nearby with famous gardens around it, and had connections with the area back until the 14th Century, and apparently were earlier were among the Saxon nobility who successfully made the transition into Norman times without losing their lands.

A couple more of the later Carews are noted under 'Modern Brasses' below. We may note that ‘the old stock of the Carews, in spite of having been bolstered up by entails and adoptions of the name by descendants in the female line, passed away [around 1900 presumably] in a London lodging, when the last bearer of the name died, homeless and landless. Such, indeed, are the ‘Vicissitudes of Families’.'

Other Monuments, 18th–19th Centuries

Brasses

Alexander Henry Bridges, d.1891, modern brass and alabaster.

Also in the Church

Morris Organ Gallery and details.

Firstly must be noted the William Morris organ gallery, beautifully decorated in the manner of that establishment. There is a series of six angels, mostly as winged girls but with one male figure, each on its own golden panel, but forming something of a processional, and each with a musical instrument. Other panels show religious scenes. Lower down are panels with different plants with fruit and flowers, harmoniously arranged. Above are charming scenes, one with a bird flying above waves with giant fishes leaping from it, others with reclining animals, symbols of the apostles. There is a wealth of small painted wood carvings, and larger heads of angels as corbels supporting the arches of the ceiling. There are four full angels in flight, praying, projecting out from the sides, and there are coffered panels with more gilt decoration on the ceiling. Really quite a remarkable and beautiful ensemble, all of a piece, and showing how Morris’s firm could make a complete furnished space with a range of materials and techniques, all united in a common theme and style.

Screen or reredos.

Second, is a huge painted screen, some sort of reredos, completely filling the end of one aisle. It contains 13 painted panels, in a Continental style. They form three rows. At the top is Christ in Majesty in the top centre, flanked by two panels with groups of angels, standing on clouds and carrying appropriate accoutrements: ladder, crown of thorns, 30 pieces of silver and so forth. The middle row has a central panel of angels, with two panels either side with saints – a lot of them, conveniently named on their halos. The lowest level, with the largest panels, is the most lively. In the centre, is a scene from Judgement day, with mortal souls being separated to left and right. Those on the left as we look at the panel are destined for Heaven, shown in two panels on that side, in pleasant out of doors scenery. The panels on the right are for the damned, with horrified figures being encouraged into the flames by pointy-eared demons. A pleasure to see this fine piece. Pevsner, the architectural historian, says it is by Clayton and Bell and dates from 1869, when the Morris organ gallery was made.

We should note the stone font with a square top, arcaded, on a central shaft with four outer columns – this would seem to date back as far as the earliest portions of the Church - see picture at top of page, to left.

And there is a World War I memorial, a stone plaque with the names of the men of the parish who were killed, a border, and at the top a small basso relievo figure of Christ.

Beddington Church war memorial.

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

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Also in Surrey: All Saints Church, Carshalton // St Martin's Church, Epsom // and formerly in Surrey: St Mary the Virgin, Merton // St Mary, Battersea // and Wimbledon tramline 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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