|St Mary-the-Virgin's Churchyard, Harefield||Hillingdon|
Harefield's parish church of St Mary has remnants of the medieval building, although it was altered in 1768 and restored in 1841. It contains numerous fine memorials, such as those to the Newdigate family who held the Manor of Harefield from the C14th. The old manor house used to stand near the church but was demolished in 1814. The setting of the church and its walled churchyard remains rural. In WWI an extension to the churchyard was created as the Australian Military or ANZAC Cemetery and since 1921 an annual ceremony has been held here on 25 April.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
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St Mary's Church has remnants of the C12th building with Norman masonry in the west wall of the nave, but is largely C14th. It was altered in 1768 by Henry Keene for Sir Roger Newdigate whose family held the Manor of Harefield from the C14th. In the early C17th the Manor was owned by Alice, Countess of Derby (d.1637) and her descendants until 1675 when the Newdigate family regained it. The old manor house was demolished in 1814 and Sir Roger Newdigate built a new house in Ickenham. The church has 'a collection of monuments unrivalled in Middlesex' (Pevsner) among which are numerous memorials to the Newdigate family, the Ashby family of Breakspears (q.v.) and to the Countess of Derby's family. The earliest memorial is that of William Newdigate (d.1444).
The walled churchyard remains in a rural site surrounded by fields and has good trees including cedar, yew, ash, horse chestnut and many Leylandia. At the entrance are gates with gate piers and lanterns. The churchyard contains an unusual number of wooden bedhead monuments and several larger monuments, including one to John Truesdale of Harefield Place (d.1780) and William Spedding (d.1826) both with urns. An extension to the churchyard is the moving Australian Military Cemetery, which was established here in WWI for soldiers who died at nearby Harefield Park, which was used as an Australian military hospital for wounded soldiers before becoming Harefield Hospital (q.v.) in 1933. During the war 111 men and a nursing sister were buried in the cemetery and on 25 April 1921 a ceremony was held when school children laid flowers on each grave, which became an annual ceremony followed by a service to which representatives from the Australian High Commission are invited. In 1951 the former Breakspear Chapel in the church was rededicated as the Australian Chapel. The cemetery has Lombardy poplars, simple rows of monuments, an obelisk and a memorial arch onto the lane.
Adjacent to the churchyard is St Mary's Copse, part of the Colne Valley Park Nature with native tree species planted by volunteers in 1988/9.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 edition); History on church website