|St Mary the Blessed Virgin Churchyard||Croydon|
The modest flint church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin dates back to at least the C11th and its burial ground is also centuries old. There are many associations with the Archbishops of Canterbury who lived at Addington Palace from the early C19th and a memorial in the churchyard commemorates Archbishops buried here. Extended a number of times to accommodate more burials, the churchyard is now closed, and has over 1,000 memorials. Trees include a number of yews and other conifers.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2008
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Addington remains relatively rural. A castle once stood on the hill near the church built for Sir Robert de Aguilon, Lord of the Manor in the time of Henry III, who was allowed to fortify and embattle his house. The Manor passed to the Bardolf family in Henry IV's reign and then to John Leigh whose great grandson built Addington Palace in 1544. The estate was dispersed in lots in 1803 by James Ivers, the greater part including the mansion going to Thomas Coles from whose son William the Trustees of the Archbishops of Canterbury acquired it in 1808, and from which time it replaced the Old Palace in Croydon, now a school adjacent to St John's Church Memorial Garden (q.v.). The Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin dates back to at least the C11th and has a C12th chancel with original windows, and a C13th south arcade, although externally it was refaced in 1876 when the north aisle was added and the C18th west tower rebuilt by Piers St Aubyn, these works costing £5,000. The church has many associations with the Archbishops of Canterbury who lived at Addington Palace and the interior has many fine monuments. In the churchyard is the monument to Archbishop Randall Davidson erected in 1911, an ornate cross on pedestal.
Quoted in Walford is the following description in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1799: "the church of Addington, as well as the village, is most delightfully and romantically situated in a deep valley, surrounded by hills of the liveliest verdure and most inviting appearance . . The church is one of the oldest in the county . . Certain evidence of being built before the time of Edward IV. Yew tree in the churchyard which, from the great circumference of its trunk, must be of great antiquity. The church must have sunk prodigiously, as at present it is of very inferior height to the generality of country churches, and, from the aspect of the stones and the style of the building, there is every reason to think it is much older than the date above mentioned."
The patronage of the rectory, with the church and chapel of All Saints formerly annexed to it, belonged to Reginald de Edintone, given by Bartholomew de Chesney to Priory of St Mary Overy in Southwark, and in the C16th passing to Nicholas Leigh. The church was originally flint, but the walls and body rebuilt with brick by Alderman Trecothick c.1773; the exterior refaced in flint and stone in 1843 by Archbishop Howley when a new stone font and new porch added and the interior restored. Pointed arches on pillars separated the north and south aisles. A Norman arch separated nave and church; the north windows are of Edward III's time, when the church was probably rebuilt. The western window has stained glass in memory of Archbishop Tait (d.1882) whose grave is at the west end of the churchyard, his wife and son also buried here. Nearby is the grave of Archbishop Longley and his family, and Archbishop Sumner, his daughter and relatives are buried in 'plain graves' in the north east corner. Archbishops Manners-Sutton and Howley are also buried at Addington.
The churchyard was extended a number of times in order to accommodate further burials. Former glebe land was consecrated in November 1849, given by Revd. Matthew Farrer, with a plaque to commemorate this on the wall of the vestry. A new burial ground was consecrated by the Bishop of Croydon, Archdeacon E S Woods, in July 1931, which may be the eastern extension on the site of demolished cottages next to Flint Cottage, demolished c1897. In 1977 the churchyard was considered full and closed for burials in new plots; it contains over 1000 memorials, including a memorial to the Archbishops who are buried here, a war memorial and 13 war graves from both world wars. A number of surveys of the graves in the churchyard have been carried out, the earliest in 1911 probably carried out by local historian William Mills of Broadcombe hamlet. East Surrey Family History Society documented 1053 monuments and inscriptions in 1994. Paths in the churchyard are generally crazy paving in style and lead from the entrance gate of brick with stone gate piers and run around church. There is a second entrance via a small wooden gate with straight path leading to an extension of the burial area, separated from the main body of the churchyard with a brick wall on 2 sides, reached through an open doorway. Trees in the churchyard include a number of yews, and other conifers plus sycamore, mountain ash on boundary.
On the common above the church are c.25 tumuli.
B Cherry & N Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 2: South' (1983 reprint 1999; Edward Walford 'Village London, The Story of Greater London Part 3: South East and South', first published 1883/4 and reprinted in 1983 by The Alderman Press. Church website history section; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008