Friday, 17 August 2012

Walthamstow, Essex

Having spent hours at St Dunstan in Stepney I drove home via several churches in the M11 western belt. I had very low expectations of finding any open so it was a real pleasure when I found two that were.

St Mary wasn't one of them and, apart from the jam packed graveyard, there didn't seem to be much of interest here.The exterior has, at some point, been unattractively rendered and the whole church has a general air of declining shabbiness.

ST MARY. Hardly anything left of before the Reformation. W tower, aisles and chancel chapels built c. 1535. Altered and enlarged 1818 and again 1843. Present galleries and roof 1876. - FONT. Fluted bowl on baluster stem, white marble, 1714. - PLATE. Set of c. 1680; Beadle’s Staff 1779. - MONUMENTS. Sir George Monox d. 1543 and wife; brass with small kneeling figures. - Lady Stanley, c. 1630, standing wall monument with big kneeling figure. - Sir Thomas and Lady Merry 1633, by Nicholas Stone; she and her husband as demi-figures in oval niches, busts of four children in flat relief below, open pediment above; of very fine sculptural quality, especially the modelling of the hands. - Sigismund Trafford d. 1723 and wife and daughter, ambitious standing wall monument with husband in Roman costume and wife, both standing, and the child kneeling between them; the artistic quality not as high as e.g. at Wanstead. - Many more monuments (Bonnell Family d. 1690, with big sarcophagus and no effigies; Elizabeth Morley d. 1837 by Nicholl etc). - In the CHURCHYARD more monuments, closely placed to the W of the church, and mostly early C19.

Graveyard (1)


The tower of the church, with the porch, aisles, and chapels, are all from the reign of Henry the Eighth; the chancel is modern. On the walls is a fine brass of Sir George Monoux wearing his chain as lord mayor, and by him is his wife in her 15th century dress; Sir George was the founder of the delightful group of red brick almshouses (with the original grammar school) seen in the churchyard. There is a palimpsest brass of 400 years ago, one side with an Elizabethan in a fur coat, the other with a civilian. Lady Lucy Stanley kneels in a cloak and coronet under a kind of triumphal arch, with four daughters dressed as in Stuart days; there is magnificent heraldry on her tomb. A monument by the famous Nicholas Stone has busts of Sir Thomas Merry and his wife, with richly detailed portraits of their four children. A Jacobean wall monument with fine ironwork in front of it shows Sigismund Trafford in Roman dress with his wife and their little one.

One of the odd things we found here was a beadle’s stick carved with a crown and mitre over 250 years ago, and on the wall is a memory of the Maynards who were for 300 years lords of the manor.


  1. We're sorry that our church was not open when you came. We'd love to, but have had two arson attacks in recent years. If you are able, do come back and see us - we're open every Sunday morning(!) and evening and during OPEN HOUSE LONDON (actually this coming weekend, 22-23 Sept 2012> I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you come into our beautiful, ancient(it was founded in 1108)and much used local parish church. The outside does not do justice to what lies behind the closed doors plus it is a vibrant place where Christians gather week by week. I hope to see you one day. JCB - churchwarden

  2. I'm sorry to hear about the arson attacks - a very sad sign of the times (what do these people think they are achieving) - and hope one day I will come back when you are open.