|St Andrew's Old Churchyard||Brent|
Although there was almost certainly a church here in Saxon times the present building dates from at least the C12th or C13th with later additions. The Old Church became redundant when a larger church was called for to serve the growing population of Kingsbury and St Andrew's New Church, itself redundant in its original location in the West End, was re-erected here in 1931-4. The old church stands in its overgrown churchyard, which has many old yew trees, a row of lime trees along the west side, a lych-gate and good C18th and C19th monuments hidden in the undergrowth.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2001
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St Andrew's Old Churchyard, June 2001. Photo: S Williams
Click photo to enlarge.
Kingsbury was a medieval hamlet, which has long been subsumed by suburban housing development, but its old church of St Andrew remains, its bell of 1349 the oldest in Middlesex. The ancient parish of Kingsbury included Fryent and Roe Green, and Tunworth and Chalkhill, two manors referred to in the Domesday Book in 1086. The old village was decimated by the Plague and largely abandoned when a new village was built around Kingsbury Green. Although there was almost certainly a church here in Saxon times the present building dates from at least the C12th/C13th with later additions.
The Old Church has been redundant since the adjacent much larger St Andrew's New Church was built to serve the congregation of Kingsbury parish, which had outgrown the old church. It stands in its overgrown churchyard, which has many old yew trees, row of lime trees along the west side, a lych-gate and good C18th and C19th monuments hidden in the undergrowth. Remnants of any Victorian planting were hard to find given the degree to which the churchyard had become overgrown and it became more reminiscent of woodland with informal paths threading through it, and bounded by old hedges, mature oak trees and wych elm. To the south is Old Church Lane, a route of ancient origin.
A tablet on the wall of the church records the drowning of the Sidebottom brothers of Roe Green in August 1835 while bathing in the new Brent Reservoir. Those buried here with fine monuments include tombstones of Timothy Wetherilt and Henry Wetherilt who both died in 1741 and of Thomas Raworth (d.1744); chest tomb of Joseph Finch (d.1776); stone monument to William Frederick Ashton (d.1802); and tombstone with cherubs and scrolls modelled on the earlier headstone of Timothy Wetherilt for Edwin Austin Abbey RA (d.1911), an American painter who lived from 1878 onwards in Chelsea and is best known for his murals at Boston Public Library, in the Royal Exchange and in the House of Lords. The Edwin Austin Abbey Trust continues to support mural artists today.
St Andrew's New Church, set on a walled lawn with a couple of good horse chestnuts and a modern vicarage in one corner, had originally stood in Wells Street in Marylebone, built in 1844-47 by Dawkes and Hamilton. With the development of the West End as a commercial rather than a residential area, the church in Wells Street became redundant and it was re-erected stone by stone in Kingsbury in 1931-4 with a few additions by W A Forsyth. This decision had been the inspiration of the then Bishop of London, Dr Winnington Ingram, who had the idea of moving redundant London churches elsewhere where they were needed. However this became the first and, in fact, the only parish where this experiment was undertaken and in 1931, the Wells Street building was dismantled, every stone numbered to facilitate re-erection.
The old churchyard is the responsibility of the PCC of Kingsbury Parish. In c.1994 Middlesex History Society undertook to record every gravestone that then existed as the burial records were very muddled. In the late 1990s the Ethel Haywood Memorial Trust was set up, named after the benefactor's mother who was buried here, to provide for the maintenance of the churchyard. 90% of the Trust's income can be used for this purpose and since then the laborious process of clearing the paths has been taking place. The old church is the responsibility of the Redundant Churches Committee who have been seeking an alternative use for the building.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); Ian Yarham, Meg Game 'Nature Conservation in Brent, Ecology Handbook 31', London Ecology Unit, 2000; Len Snow, 'Brent - Wembley, Willesden and Kingsbury', Phillimore, 1990; see church website