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St Mary's Churchyard, Battersea Wandsworth
   
Summary: A church was recorded here from at least the C12th. The Manor of Battersea from the time of the Conquest had belonged to the Abbey of Westminster; the old manor house was east of the church and the main area of the village was to the south. St Mary's Church is in effect an C18th preaching box that was built in 1777 to replace an earlier building. The churchyard is surrounded by fine walls, railings and has ornate gates; it is laid out as a garden with lawns, seating, paths and some fine trees. A few historic tombs remain within the grass as well as gravestones against the boundary walls; among those buried here was William Curtis (d.1799) a well-known botanist. Other famous people associated with St Mary's include William Blake and J M W Turner.
Previous / Other name: Battersea Parish Church
Site location: Battersea Church Road
Postcode: SW11 3NA > Google Map
Type of site: Churchyard
Date(s): medieval onwards; 1777; 1870s
Designer(s):
Listed structures: LBI: St Mary's Church, walls and gate to churchyard
Borough: Wandsworth
Site ownership: Church
Site management: LB Wandsworth Parks Service
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events: Events, concerts in church
Public transport: Rail/London Overground: Clapham Junction. Bus: 239
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. www.wandsworth.gov.uk

Fuller information:

The current church of St Mary's is in effect an C18th preaching box and was built by Joseph Dixon in 1777 to replace an earlier building, and was later restored in 1876-78 by A Blomfield. A church was recorded here from at least the C12th, and the Manor of Battersea from the time of the Conquest had belonged to the Abbey of Westminster. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the manor went first to the Crown and then between 1627-1763 belonged to the St John family; Sir John St John gave the church a fine stained glass window, later preserved in the new building. In 1763 the Manor was purchased by Lord Spencer, who was responsible for the development of what was then an isolated village, building a wooden bridge across the Thames in 1772 following which smart villas began to be built here although it was not until the late C19th that the village was substantially developed, particularly as a result of the construction of the railways. The area by the river was largely marshland in medieval times until a wall was built and land reclaimed, after which market gardening became the predominant local industry. Katherine, daughter of a local market gardener, married the poet and painter William Blake in St Mary's Church. J W M Turner is associated with St Mary's, where he used to sit to paint sunsets over the Thames.

The old manor house had been east of the church but was demolished by the end of the C18th. The main area of the village was south of the church, around Battersea Square where the Raven pub still stands; it was reputedly here that the new church of St Mary's was planned in the 1770s. St Mary's has one of the best collections of monuments in south London. The churchyard is surrounded by fine walls, railings and 3 sets of ornate gates, the central one with an overthrow; it is laid out as a garden with neat lawns, seating, paths and some fine trees. There are historic tombs set within the grass as well as gravestones against the boundary walls; among those buried in the churchyard was William Curtis (d.1799) a well-known botanist who wrote a number of important books, such as one on London's wild plants and a seminal work on British grasses.

A circular area of grass in front of the church to the river has a gravelled roadway, and the lawn slopes to towards the river, with views to the opposite bank. A small rose garden of remembrance has been established by the South West London Branch of the Burma Star Association for 'fallen comrades who paid the supreme sacrifice in the Burma Campaign of 1942-45 and to our Branch members who have since passed away'. Adjacent to the churchyard to the west is Church Dock cut into the riverbank to provide a landing stage.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; LB Wandsworth, Battersea Square Conservation Area Character Statement; John Wittich, 'London Villages', Shire Publications Ltd, 1992 ed.
Grid ref: TQ268768
Size in hectares: 0.2
   
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: Battersea Square
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: Yes - Archaeological Priority Area/Wandsworth Thames Policy Area
Other LA designation: Incidental Public Open Space
   

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