|St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, East Barnet||Barnet|
St Mary's is the mother church to which St John's at Chipping Barnet was once a chapel at ease. The church had belonged to St Albans Abbey and until the C13th it served the whole of Barnet. The lych-gate, originally erected in 1872, was rebuilt in 1991. The churchyard has many fine tombs, a number of wooden graveboards on the north side, and among the trees are mature yews some c300 years old. In 2000 a yew cutting was planted in the south west corner taken from the Eastling Yew in Kent, a tree alive at the time of Christ’s incarnation. The churchyard was closed to burials in the late C19th and is now maintained as part of the Living Churchyards Project, a national initiative that aims to conserve and enhance the wildlife heritage found in churchyards.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2000
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St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, September 2000. Photo: S Williams
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St Mary the Virgin was the mother church to which St John's at Chipping Barnet (q.v.) was once a chapel at ease. Until St John's was built in the C13th St Mary's served as parish church for the whole of Barnet. The church once belonged to St Albans Abbey. The nave and 3 small windows on the north wall are Norman, the rest of the building dating from the C19th. It has a commanding position from the top of Church Hill across the Pymmes Brook.
Among those buried in the churchyard was Sir George Prevost who was of Swiss descent and became Governor General of Canada during the war in 1812 between America and England; he had opposed France in the West Indies and was rewarded with the governorship there. However his appointment in Canada went badly and he was summoned to London for a court martial but died before the trial. His father, General George Prevost (d.1787) is also buried here, the tomb a tapered classical sarcophagus with lions feet. Also Daniel Beaufort, who was one of the founders of the Royal Irish Academy and who prepared a map of Ireland, father of Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who was known for the Beaufort Scale, a table of winds that was used by seamen. John Hadley (d.1744) who produced the first reflecting telescope that was powerful enough to study the stars as well as the reflecting quadrantthat still bears his name. John Sharpe (d.1766) has a monument with a large urn on a base under a heavy arched baldacchino possibly by Wilton, who also made a memorial to Hans Sloane in Chelsea. The Clarke Family monument commemorates Sir Simon Haughton Clarke of Oakhill, d.1832, and family, a railed Gothic monument with octagonal lantern on an octagonal plinth. Six similarly-designed tombstones to the Grove family with carved heads of putti surmounted by obelisks, the earliest dating from 1755.
The lych-gate with wooden steps adjacent was originally erected in 1872, and was rebuilt in 1991. The churchyard has a number of wooden graveboards on the north side, and among the trees are mature yews some c.300 years old. In 2000 a yew cutting was planted in the south west corner taken from the Eastling Yew in Kent, a tree alive at the time of Christ’s incarnation. The churchyard was closed for burials at the end of the C19th century; it is now designated a conservation area for flora and fauna, as part of the Living Churchyards Project, and is maintained through a partnership between LB Barnet and members of St Mary's congregation.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England: London 4: North (1998) p. 114; Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1972). See 'A Brief History, The Little Church on the Hill' on www.stmarys-eastbarnet.org.uk