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St Mary's Wanstead Churchyard Redbridge
   
Summary: St Mary's Wanstead has a late mediaeval churchyard, which was reconfigured in c.1788-90 when the present church was built. This classical building by Thomas Hardwick was built to form a dignified eyecatcher for one of the three great avenues radiating from Wanstead House. Of particular interest is the memorial to Joseph Wilton RA and his family of 1803 in the form of a Watcher's Box, from which watch was kept to forestall body snatchers, and which resembles the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The earlier church had stood near to the Wilton tomb. The churchyard contains a collection of early C19th and Victorian monuments, headstones and chest tombs; the railings and gates date from c.1790 and trees include notable yew, holly, cedar, oak and lime. The churchyard was extended in 1906 and 1924. Although no longer open for burials, St. Mary's has a memorial garden where ashes can be buried.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Overton Drive, Wanstead, Essex
Postcode: E11 2LW > Google Map
Type of site: Churchyard
Date(s): C13th onwards; 1790
Designer(s):
Listed structures: LBI: St Mary's Church. LBII: churchyard railings and gates, Joseph Wilton RA Memorial
Borough: Redbridge
Site ownership: Church of England, Wanstead Parish
Site management: Churchyard maintained by Westerleigh Group from Forest Park Cemetery & Crematorium, Hainault
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport: Tube: Wanstead (Central). Bus: 66, 101, 145, 308, 551, W12, W13, W14 (then walk)
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.parishofwanstead.org

Fuller information:

St Mary's churchyard is a late mediaeval churchyard, which was reconfigured in c.1788-90. The long presence of a church on the site is recorded by the list of rectors dating back to 1207. Among the rectors was Dr James Pound (1711-1725), a fine astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Society. To facilitate his observations the Royal Society lent Pound a telescope, reputedly the largest in Europe, which was being taken down to make way for the building of St Mary-le-Strand. It required a huge pole for its erection in Wanstead.

The present St Mary's church is the third on the site, a classical building by Thomas Hardwick built to form a dignified eyecatcher for one of the three great avenues radiating from Wanstead House (Wanstead Park q.v.). The earlier, smaller church had stood in the churchyard near to the Wilton tomb and was demolished by Rector Dr Glasses when Hardwick's church was built. The church has a lofty porch that rises upon a pair of Doric pillars, above which is a high bell turret. The interior has an altar which is purportedly a marquetry table from Wanstead House, and monuments of particular note include the 20 ft high white marble memorial to Sir Josiah Child (d.1699), probably carved by John Van Nost. Sir Josiah appears bewigged and in Roman garb with his son Bernard at his feet, mourning women on either side and four cherubs with golden trumpets.

The churchyard contains a collection of early C19th and Victorian monuments, headstones, and Portland stone tomb chests; the churchyard railings and gates date from c.1790 and trees include notable yew, holly, cedar, oak and lime. Of particular interest is the memorial to Joseph Wilton RA and his family of 1803 in the form of a Watcher's Box, from which watch was kept to forestall body snatchers, and which also resembles the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Wilton (1722-1803) was a sculptor and founder member of the Royal Academy. The old dead yew standing at the highest point in the churchyard is purported to have supplied material for the bows at the Battle of Agincourt. The churchyard was extended in 1906 and 1924 and plans survive in the church vestry. The horse chestnut avenue (St Mary’s Avenue) extending from George Green (q.v.) to St Mary's Church follows the C18th diagonal north/west path of the pate d'oie radiating from the former William Tylney-Long-Pole-Wellesley's house at Wanstead Park (Rocque, 1746). Although the churchyard is no longer open for burials, St. Mary's has a memorial garden where ashes can be buried.

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); W V Phillips, 'Wanstead through the Ages' (1946, 1966 ed); Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster', (Hodder & Stoughton, 1972); Ian Dowling and Nick Harris, Images of London: Wanstead and Woodford, (Tempus Publishing, 2003); Edward Walford, 'Village London, the Story of Greater London, Part 2 - North and East', first published 1883/4 (1985 ed., The Alderman Press); Denis Keeling, 'A Guide to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin'; Graham Dixon and Patricia Wilkinson 'The Parish of Wanstead'.
Grid ref: TQ409877
Size in hectares: 1.21
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Wanstead Park
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: Yes
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: Yes - Archaeology Priority Area
Other LA designation:
   

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