Page images
PDF
EPUB

Wandsworth, but I think we may assume there was a church here in late Norman times, for one chronicle states that Richard Tocline, or Toclinus, who was appointed Bishop of Winchester in 1173, appropriated the rectory to the Abbey of Westminster in 1189, paying 7s. 74d. for procurations, and 2s. 1d. for synodals. The vicarage does not seem to have been endowed before 1249, and in 1291 the rectory was valued at 30 marks, and the vicarage at 10 marks; and Godfrey de Lucy, who succeeded him in the see, ordained that the monks should receive a pension annually, of 6 marks, out of the church revenues, so long as the vicar was left with sufficient for his own maintenance and the proper discharge of episcopal dues. In the twentieth year of Edward I the living was valued at 10 marks. After the dissolution of the monasteries the rectory and advowson were vested in the Crown, and Henry VIII annexed the former to the honour of Hampton Court. In the King's books the living is valued at £15:55.

The church is dedicated to All Saints, and the living is a vicarage. It was formerly in the deanery of Southwark and diocese of Winchester, but is now in the diocese of Rochester and deanery of Streatham.

Queen Elizabeth, in 1581, gave both the rectory and advowson to Edward Downing and Peter Ashton, but in 1731 a Mr. John Acworth, who then held them, sold the rectorial tithes to the Trustees of Marshall's Charity. His grandson, Thomas Acworth, continued to hold the advowson till his death in 1783. The living is now in the gift of the family of the late Vicar, the Rev. John Buckmaster, B.A.

A list of the vicars of this parish has been compiled by Mr. Cecil Davis. It is, however, incomplete, owing to the earlier Bishops' Registers having been lost; but the list commences as far back as 1306, Oct. 28, when Thomas de Sudbury was instituted to the living.

The architecture of an old church is often of considerable value towards elucidating the history of the parish itself; but here, unfortunately, we have no such advantage, for there are no architectural features of any interest remaining. The old building has entirely disappeared, with trifling exceptions, which I will indicate

directly. I am of opinion that the original church was but a small building, of late Norman architecture, consisting of nave and chancel only (probably under one roof), with a low, massive tower at the west end, and a vestry built out at the north side of the chancel; the nave being, no doubt, some feet wider than the tower. The old tower, in part, still stands (quite unknown to most people), concealed within its present casing of brickwork ; and in the ringing-chamber the old masonry is still visible, together with the remains of the old angle-turret, much mutilated; while externally a small portion of the old masonry of the wall adjoining the tower at the northwest angle may yet be seen above the present vestryroof. These are the only portions of the old building now remaining, above ground at any rate. There is a stone slab let into the flooring of the nave, which indicates definitely the position of the east wall of the chancel, when pulled down about one hundred and ten years ago.

The church, no doubt, underwent the usual vicissitudes of such buildings before it was altogether removed. For instance, there is in the British Museum an engraving by Chatelain, dated 1750, which shows the old church from the south-west, with a south aisle and high-pitched roof, with buttresses and gabled south porch; the whole, probably, an addition of the fourteenth century; but also showing two square dormer windows in the roof, which clearly must have been added at a much later period. A doorway is seen, which closely resembles that in the present west wall of this aisle, suggesting that it was attached to the old building about the same time as the windows in the roof were made, and was retained for the new work as we see it now. There is also seen in this wall a two-light and square-headed Tudor window beside this doorway. This engraving also shows the upper part of the tower as it was altered about 1630. I have seen a still later engraving showing the church as it now is, but the old tower still without the present casing of brickwork.

The church, as it now exists, only dates from the last century. The north aisle was the first part built, about 1725. In that year a deed was signed by John Acworth of Wandsworth, patron of the vicarage, which had rela

tion to the building of this aisle. The pew-rents and the vaults were vested in the vicars of the church for ever.

In the years 1779 and 1780 further rebuilding was undertaken. In the latter year a church-rate was made, and five maiden ladies each advanced £300 to the churchwardens, which, with money otherwise procured, produced nearly £3,000, and the present building was erected. From the church wardens' accounts there does not appear to have been any general contract, but each tradesman was paid directly for his own particular work, as their names and trades are given, with the amounts they each received. One item in the churchwardens' books of this period excites some pardonable archæological suspicion, viz., "Received for sundry old woodwork sold by the auctioneer, £11: 2: 6."

There are several monuments worthy of notice in the church, to persons locally celebrated, or who have made generous benefactions to the parish. The most conspicuous are the two mural monuments upon the east wall. upor They are both good specimens of a class of monument which became fashionable in the Elizabethan era. The one on the north is to the memory of Mrs. Susannah Powell, who died A.D. 1630. This lady left by her will, in 1627, a rent-charge of £22 16s., payable out of the rectorial tithes, upon trust, to be distributed to twentyfour poor widows of the parish, each to have 4d. in bread, and 4d. in money (twelve on one Sunday, and twelve on another), at the north door of the church; and £2 per ann. to apprentice a poor child yearly. This direction is still complied with. She is recorded to have been the daughter of Francis Hayward, Yeoman of the Guard to Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary and Elizabeth. Her husband, John Powell, was in the service of Queen Elizabeth, and the following inscription on his tomb records his service, viz.,—

"Under a stone within this place

Doth lie John Powell, who for the space
Of 30 years before his death

Did serve the Queen Elizabeth,

And to King James of worthy fame

For 9 years more he did the same;

And when the year of 74

Was gone, come to an end,

Into the hands of God above his soul he did commend."

The other monument is to the memory of an individual more widely known as "The Surrey Benefactor". His name was Henry Smith. He was a citizen and an Alderman of the City of London, and amassed a large fortune in his trade of a silversmith. The exact spot of his burial is unknown. Some fifty years ago the stone said to cover it was removed, but no trace of the coffin could be discovered. He was a native of Wandsworth, but appears to have been of humble birth, from his having left money to his own "poor kindred as were impotent and unable to help themselves". He was of a very charitable disposition, and left large sums of money to six other towns in the county besides Wandsworth, as is set forth in the inscription on the monument; the towns being Croydon, Kingston, Guildford, Dorking, Reigate, and Richmond, to each of which, as well as Wandsworth, he left £1,000. He also founded a fellowship at Cambridge for his own kindred. He is said by Aubrey and others (but upon no trustworthy authority) to have originally been a beggar, and to have been whipped as such through the parish of Mitcham. There is, however, nothing to justify such a statement.

There are several slabs and other memorials of the seventeenth century in the church, possessing local interest; but the oldest memorial, and the most curious of all, is the brass in the pavement of the nave (now unfortunately almost obliterated), of a figure in complete armour, of the fifteenth century. This brass is very interesting because it exhibits the mace worn on the right side, suspended from the waist-belt. All heavily armed men carried these weapons, but they were usually worn hung from the saddle-bow. It has been suggested that this brass commemorates the holder of the office of "Sergeant-at-Mace".

The monument upon the east wall, with the two marble busts (between that to Mrs. Powell and the organ), is to the memory of Sir Thomas Broderick and Katherine his wife.

The name of Broderick is an honoured name in Wandsworth, and the parish is greatly indebted to the benevolence of that family for some of its more valuable charities. In the years 1679 and 1680 Sir Allen Brode

rick gave a considerable sum of money for the benefit of the poor, which was applied, in 1704, to the purchase of two-thirds of an estate at Willesden, the remainder being made up by other donations and benefactions. This estate was advantageously sold some years ago; but the proceeds are held in trust, and still devoted to their original purpose, and in proper proportion. The site and school-buildings in Putney Bridge Road were the gift, in 1848, of George Alan Broderick, Viscount Middleton.

On the west wall of the north aisle is a monument to the memory of Sanuel Palmer, Esq., some time one of the surgeons, and afterwards Treasurer, of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Born 1670, died 1738.

And higher up on the same wall, cut into by the gallery, is a monument to Ed. Barker, one of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer, who was born in this parish in 1671, and died in 1759. This epitaph is inscribed upon the monument: "Reader, if you would inquire how he lived and died, be content with this answer, Not without faults, by the frailty of man; nor without repentance, by grace of God."

the

The church and parish possess many charities of considerable value, which are carefully and wisely distributed. The parish records and churchwardens' accounts are very complete. The latter, commencing in 1545, date from that momentous period in the Church of England, the closing years of Henry VIII; a few years, from 1583 to 1590, only being missing. The Parish Registers date from 1603, and the minutes of the Vestry from 1729. There are also many deeds and documents relating to gifts of land and other property to the church and parish, the earliest dating from 1490. The church possessed land as early as 1234, because there is the record of a lawsuit about it; but there are no means of identifying it at the present day.

The churchwardens' accounts are full of interesting information illustrative of the past history of the parish. From a few items taken at random we find that in 1545 kine were kept by the church, and were let out to the inhabitants on hire, under sureties. We also gather that a brook flowed close under the boundary-wall of the churchyard, which was probably a branch of the Wandle,

« PreviousContinue »