|Holy Cross Churchyard, Greenford||Ealing|
Grenan Forde is first mentioned in 846 AD, the ford presumably crossing the River Brent. The Manor of Greenford was owned by Westminster Abbey until the C16th, and manor house and church were in the centre of the hamlet, the surrounding area rural into the C20th. Holy Cross Old Church was built or rebuilt in the late C15th/early C16th on the site of an earlier church. By 1939 it was too small for the growing parish and a new largely timber church was built at right angles to it. The churchyard has headstones dating from the early C16th, the oldest near the south porch. A Celtic Cross commemorates the Roy family of Greenford Hall, an C18th building that still stands nearby. Fine trees in the churchyard include a monkey puzzle and an ash and a small garden of rest dates from 1979.
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Greenford is first mentioned in 846 AD as Grenan Forde, the ford presumably being over the River Brent. The Manor of Greenford was owned by Westminster Abbey from pre-Norman Conquest until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the C16th. The church may have been named for the Holy Cross because a relic of the true cross was placed in the building when it was first consecrated. The manor house and church were in the centre of the hamlet, and the area was in agricultural use until the C20th. Change came after the Paddington branch of the Grand Junction Canal cut through the parish in 1804, but the railway did not open a station at Greenford until 1903. Industry grew up near the canal and railway before housing development. Western Avenue was constructed cutting through east/west and in the 1930s speculative house-building began. The area was built up by 1940, leaving only Horsenden Hill as significant open space.
There was a church building of some sort here from 1157 and what is now known as the Old Church was built or rebuilt on an earlier church site in late C15th/early C16th, with some remnants from a C14th building. It has undergone some alteration since then and is a small flint rubble building with stone dressings, a wooden weather-boarded tower and a Tudor porch. Fine C16th stained glass featuring the arms of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII was installed in 1925 from King's College Cambridge, King's College being the Patron of the Living of Greenford Manor. In 1939 the church, which was only 60 feet long, was proving too small for the parish it now served and indeed in the 1930s the churchyard was used by the congregation during services.
A new larger church was built at right angles to the old church on land formerly used for burials, a largely timber building designed by architect Sir Albert Richardson with a fine interior. The foundation stone was laid by the Provost of King's College Cambridge and dedicated on 10 July 1939 by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram. Holy Cross New Church was completed in 1941. The Old Church escaped demolition in 1951 and was re-opened in 1956 having been restored.
The churchyard has headstones dating from the early C16th, the oldest being near the south porch. Among those buried here is William Marnham (d.1710) who in order to benefit the education of poor children had bequeathed land to Greenford Parish, which is now preserved as Brent River Park. His son also gave land for the benefit of poor householders. A headstone commemorates Rector Edward Betham, members of whose family were also buried here. He was rector from 1769-83 and founded the Charity School that continues to bear his name. Betham School still maintains a strong connection with Holy Cross Church whose rectors are ex-officio School Governors and Trustees of the Betham Trust that administers the fund Edward Betham set up. On the exterior wall of the church is a wall-mounted plaque to Nathaniel Ravenor (d. 1792) whose name is remembered in nearby Ravenor Park (q.v.). A Celtic Cross commemorates the Roy family of Greenford Hall, an C18th building that still stands opposite the church and is now a community centre. James Robert Roy lived there from 1882-1895.
The churchyard has a number of ornamental trees including a monkey puzzle and a fine ash tree, as well as yew and conifers, and there is a yew and oak growing together with ivy. The churchyard is now full and closed for burials; in 1979 the Bishop of Willesden consecrated an area for cremated remains. The shady garden of rest is laid out by the Ferrymead Gardens frontage with grass, seating and a few simple flower beds, hedged on three sides with an avenue of lime trees next to the roadside hedge. The Rectory that abuts the churchyard to the north was built in 1875 on the site of a Tudor building that also housed the church incumbents. Despite having lost part of its grounds to the construction of the A40 and Fairlight Court in the 1960s, it has a good-sized garden with some mature trees, used for church and community events.
Meg Game, John Archer, Mathew Frith, 'Nature Conservation in Ealing', Ecology Handbook 16 (London Ecology Unit), 1991, p78; Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed), p181; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Peter Hounsell, 'Ealing and Hanwell Past' (Historical Publications, 1991); 'A Visitor’s Guide to Holy Cross the Old Church, the New Church, the Rectory, the Edward Betham School, their histories and their environs', 5th ed. 2005