London Gardens Online
London Gardens Online


St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Putney Wandsworth


There has been a church on the site since at least the C13th and parts of the medieval church of St Mary the Virgin survive in the present church. The old parish of Putney extended from the Thames to Tibbet's Corner on Putney Heath in the south, with Beverley Brook to the west and Deodar Road its eastern boundary. The church played an important role in the Civil War when Cromwell's army was located at Putney and the Army Council held meetings here. The churchyard is smaller than it once was as a result of land taken for the first and second Putney Bridges. Tombstones have been moved and piled in one corner of the churchyard apart from one railed chest tomb by the Putney Bridge boundary, and there is a war memorial. The churchyard railings date from mid C19th.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Putney Parish Church

Site location:
Putney High Street

SW15 ( Google Map)

Type of site:

1836, 1980-2


Listed structures:
LBII*: St Mary's Church. LBII: Putney Bridge


Site ownership:
Diocese of Southwark

Site management:
LB Wandsworth, Parks Service

Open to public?

Opening times:

Special conditions:


Events in church; weekly Farmers' Market in forecourt

Public transport:
Tube: Putney Bridge (District). Rail: Putney. Bus: 14, 22, 39, 74, 85, 93, 220, 265, 270

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2005
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

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:

Conservation Area name:
Putney Embankment

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Area/Wandsworth Thames Policy Area

Other LA designation:
Incidental Open Space. Area with Development Potential

Fuller information

The Archbishop of Canterbury was Lord of the Manor of Putney and the parish was in the See of Canterbury until 1846 when it became part of the Diocese of London, then transferred to that of Rochester in 1877 and finally to the Diocese of Southwark in 1905. As the population of the area grew, separate parishes were created at Roehampton in 1845 and Putney Park in 1923. Parts of the medieval church of St Mary the Virgin survive in the tower, the nave, which has mid C15th arcading, and the early C16th Bishop West Chapel, although this was originally on the south side of the church, moved to the north in the 1870s. This has the coat of arms of Bishop Nicholas West (1461-1533), who became Bishop of Ely in 1515 and was an advisor of Henry VIII. He was born in Putney and was a protégé of Sir Thomas More. During the Civil War Cromwell's army was located at Putney for a time and in 1647 the Army Council held meetings in the then Chancel of St Mary's, their discussions on the future government of the country published as the Putney Debates. Samuel Pepys refers to a visit to St Mary's in 1667, and in Charles Dickens' 'David Copperfield', Dora Spenlow marries here.

St Mary's was rebuilt in 1836 by Edward Lapidge, but it was gutted by fire in 1973 after which it was substantially rebuilt and re-ordered by Ronald Sims; the church was re-hallowed by the Bishop of Woolwich in February 1982. Six bells were installed in the tower between 1582 and 1674, recast in 1836 when two more were added, these were later recast in 1972 and again in the 1980s following the fire.

Part of the churchyard was taken when the approach to the first, wooden, Putney Bridge was built in 1729, the land later partly restored when that bridge demolished. A larger portion was lost when the stone bridge, built in 1886 to designs of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, was widened and extended east in 1931-33. Adjacent to Putney High Street is a paved area with a small area of grass to the north alongside the river where there are a number of trees and shrubs by the bridge.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; 'The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Putney: A Short History and Guide' (published by the church, n.d.); LB Wandsworth, Putney Embankment Conservation Area Character Statement; article on Putney Debates by Tristram Hunt 'A Jewel of Democracy', The Guardian (G2) 26/10/2007, pp.4-7

Page Top

Discover. Visit. Research. Explore.