We are creating a welcoming, flexible and beautiful space for worshop and the community.
St Mary's is a beautiful and thriving church set at the heart of Twickenham. It has taken an active part in our local community for centuries and particularly attracts and supports young families, as well as being a spiritual home for those who live and work in the area.
In order to continue to be a life-giving prescence in Twickenham, we have decided to embark on a project to open up the inside of the church.
Our vision is that by making the wonderful space we have more flexible, welcoming and inclusive, we will enable more varied worship to take place and enable much more community use of the building.
Our vision is to create:
- A flexible and inclusive space
- A space which meets the needs of St Mary's School
- A wonderful resource for use by the wider community
- A building which respects the past but meets our contemporary needs
A Rich Heritage – to be available to all
The church building has been altered and rebuilt on many occasions in its history, most notably in 1715 when the nave was entirely rebuilt following its collapse in 1713. The pews were added in Victorian times. The East window, the plaster cladding to the columns supporting the galleries and the Vestry building are all 20th Century additions.
The church has a very rich heritage, most of which is currently inaccessible to the local community, as the church is either closed or the heritage is hidden away, whether in archives or because it lacks explanation. It is part of the Vision to make the church’s heritage more accessible to the church family, visitors and the local community.
It is well known locally that the body of the poet Alexander Pope lies in the church under a stone slab engraved simply with the letter P, and a memorial to his parents (and himself) can be found on the north east wall. Court painter, Sir Godfrey Kneller, was a churchwarden here and active in the rebuilding of the nave under architect, John James. Thomas Twining, the founder of Twinings Tea, moved to Dial House next door to the church in about 1722, and his body is buried at the church. There is a memorial to him on the outside of the north east corner of the church.
The church walls and windows contain a wealth of memorials, behind each of which will be a story and a link with St Mary’s. Amongst the church’s local connections is its link with Syon Monastery in Old Isleworth founded by Henry V in 1415.
Of international importance is the association with Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia from 1660-1677, whose body was laid to rest in the crypt of the church, and the tombstone in the churchyard from 1788 of General William Tryon, who served as governor of North Carolina and New York.
The church archives are a significant collection offering important documentation of the church and parish of Twickenham and the surrounding area. The origins of the church records are two deeds with the seals of Abbess Matilda of Syon Monastery and King Henry VI each dated 1443. The records reflect the church’s various activities and relationships and consist principally of records relating to the incumbent and services, churchwardens’ material, records of church fabric and endowments, and vestry and PCC records; records of the wider parish such as tithes, property documents from the 17th century onwards and local activities; Syon Abbey archives; photographs; and reel-to-reel films of church events from the 1960s.
We are looking to bring out the stories contained in the archives and to make much of the archive collection accessible including online. In collaboration with the Twickenham Museum and other local places of interest we plan to put on exhibitions and displays of their artefacts and exhibits and to make the church's own heritage and that of the local community more available to the local community.