|All Saints Churchyard, Fulham||Hammersmith & Fulham|
Fulham Parish Church dates from early times, dedicated to All Saints from at least the C15th; the current church was built in 1880/1 replacing the C15th church, whose tower remains, but an earlier church is known to have existed. The parish was within the Manor of Fulham, owned by the Bishops of London who resided at Fulham Palace from 700 AD until 1973. All Saints Churchyard contains the tombs of ten Bishops; the first known burial was in 1376. The churchyard was enlarged 4 times between 1781 and 1843, and was closed to burials in 1863. The well-planted churchyard has yew, holly and laurel, and among the many tombs are those dating from the C18th and earlier.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2011
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All Saints Churchyard, June 2010. Photo: S Williams
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There appears to have been a riverside settlement established at Fulham by between 449 - 691 AD. The Domesday Survey records the extensive lands owned here by the Bishop of London, Lord of the Manor of Fulham, but makes no mention of a church. The first record of the appointment of a rector appears in 1242 and there is a reference to the church at Fulham in 1361 in the will of a goldsmith. When the C15th church was rebuilt in 1880/1 traces of an earlier building were found, which it appears to have been located to the south. John Bowick writing in 1705 (Antiquities of Middlesex) dated the old church as being early C15th. The tower is known to have been constructed c.1440, as this is the date Henry VI granted permission for it to be erected. The dedication to All Saints is referred to in a will of 1445. The church was noted for its bells, originally a peal of 6 mentioned in 1549, but later increased to 8 in 1729, and finally to 10. Near the church, the moated manor house, Fulham Palace, was the residence of the Bishops of London from c.700 AD until 1973, although the Lordship of the Manor had passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1868. Until 1834, the parish included the hamlet of Hammersmith, after which a separate parish of Hammersmith was formed with a new parish church of St Paul's (q.v.). When surveyed in 1873 the parish of Fulham consisted of over 1,856 acres.
Land here was particularly fertile, possibly due to the frequent flooding by the Thames, and it was largely in agricultural use until the C19th, its market gardens supplying London's needs, with some 50 market gardens and nurseries in existence in 1821, although by the mid C19th the number was reduced to 20. There had long been a river ferry between Fulham and Putney, possibly at the time of the Norman Conquest, and the first Fulham Bridge was built in 1729, although construction of a bridge had been unsuccessfully mooted in 1671. In the middle of the old Fulham Bridge a plaque marked the boundary line between the parishes of Fulham and Putney; the bridge was demolished after closure in 1886 when the new Putney Bridge replaced it a little to the west, built on the former site of the Chelsea Waterworks Company aqueduct. On the Fulham side a new approach was formed partly through the vicarage garden close to the parish church; the old vicarage was later demolished and part of the site is now a small public garden, Vicarage Gardens (q.v.).
The old church was altered in the early 1840s when more space was needed to cater for the growing population and a north aisle was added, the work undertaken by Edward Lapidge. By 1877 the church was in a state of collapse and in 1879 a faculty for rebuilding it, apart from the tower, was granted by the Bishop of London. The old church was demolished in 1880 and the new church built to the designs of Sir Arthur Blomfield, son of Bishop Blomfield, was consecrated on 9 July 1881.
The first known burial in the churchyard was that of Richard Colman in 1376. It appears to have initially been surrounded by a low brick wall. Various references to the churchyard appear in the Court Rolls, such as an order of 1611 that forbade Fulham's inhabitants from allowing their pigs into the churchyard, subject to a fine if discovered; in 1738 another order sought to prevent people from using the churchyard for drying or airing clothes and a certain Francis Reynolds was threatened with prosecution if he did not keep his hog out. In 1646 payment was made for a 'causeway' through the churchyard, which appears to have been wide enough for carriages, and probably took the route of the main path in the churchyard today. In early days it was customary to distribute sacrament money to the poor in the churchyard, but this ceased in 1721.
The burial ground was enlarged in 1781 when land on the south was added, and again in 1783 when another piece of land on the south was donated by Bishop Lowth, who performed the consecration on 9 July 1784. A meeting of the Vestry in 1783 had agreed to enclose the burial ground with a brick wall 'leaving a sweep for the accommodation of the neighbourhood sufficient for a coach and a pair of horses to turn with ease'. The wall was removed in 1888 but an old print of 1824 shows the wall and a portion of the carriage sweep. In 1792 another piece of land to the west was purchased by the Vestry and meant that the churchyard now extended up to the moat of Fulham Palace. A new walk was created in 1802, probably through the new ground, and men from the parish workhouse were paid to undertake work in the churchyard in 1817 and 1818. In 1843 the churchyard was again enlarged on the north side when former manorial waste, which had been enclosed by William Skelton in 1699, was offered by the Bishopric on the condition that the Vestry at its own expense erected 'Fencing, or otherwise, to prevent the frequent injuries now done to the Tomb Stones and Graves, by Boys and others assembling in the Churchyard to play'. It was also suggested that a 'neat and strong Iron Fence' be erected to enclose the north east side. As a result the iron gates were erected at the new boundary. A piece of ground within the new burial area was reserved for the use of Bishop Blomfield and his successors, marked off by 2 stone posts; here are the graves of Bishop Blomfield, Bishop Jackson and Colonel Tait, the brother of Bishop Tait.
The churchyard was closed in 1863, having become very crowded and unsanitary, although burials were permitted in existing vaults and graves, and burial in the new portion could take place if the new regulations for burial were adhered to. From the early C19th the churchyard was subject to body snatching, the 'resurrection men' often coming via the river by night, and other riverside churches such Chiswick and Putney suffered the same outrage. In order to try and prevent this, the churchyard was often watched at night. Probably the last incident of body snatching took place in 1828. A Registry of the Tombs and Tombstones in Fulham Church and Churchyard was made by Dr Woodhouse in 1885-7.
The churchyard entrance retains its fine gate piers and iron gates leading into the burial ground, which is planted with well-grown yew, holly and laurel, and has mature limes along the walk. Within the churchyard are C19th, C18th and earlier monuments including the tombs of ten Bishops of London, such as the sarcophagus to Bishop Sherlock (d.1761). Among other tombs is the monument to Charles James Blomfield (d.1857), consecrated Bishop of Chester 1824-8 before becoming Bishop of London 1828-56, and his wife Dorothy (d.1870). South of the church is a WWI War Memorial that was dedicated by the Bishop of London in May 1923; in 1998 the bronze life-size figure of Christ was stolen but later returned. Near the west door is a sculpture by Helen Sinclair, 'The Mother and The Child', a semi-abstract figure of a mother walking with the child carried on her back in a shawl. It was commissioned by the former vicar, Kenneth Bowler, and installed in the churchyard in April 2000. A bronze miniature was given as a retirement gift to Kenneth Bowler. Also in the churchyard is what may be an old C12th font that was found buried on a plot of land in the High Street in 1827. It was used by the owner as a basin for horses to drink out of and then planted with flowers from 1867, when its resemblance to the font in Chester Cathedral was noted. It was brought to the notice of the curate at All Saints in 1896 and subsequently presented to the church and erected on a brick base to the south of the church. Whether it was from an earlier church here is not known.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p229; Charles James-Feret, 'Fulham Old and New', vol 1, 1900. All Saints Church History Group. See Hammersmith Council website Historical Sculptures Search for information on other monuments of note in the churchyard.