Studying Local History and Bringing the Past to Life in London

London, UK, images; gardens and cemeteries

Local history: the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in Lewisham, South East London (picture taken in late March)

The churchyard of St Mary the Virgin church in Lewisham, London, UK
The Churchyard of St Mary the Virgin Church, Lewisham, London

St Mary’s Churchyard

¤ The present church stands on the site of previous parish churches dating back to the 20th century when the whole of Lewisham was owned and administered by the Abbey of St Peter’s, Ghent in Flanders.

As the population of Lewisham increased the churchyard was extended. In 1791 part of the Church Meadow next to the Ravensbourne was added, part of the garden of the adjacent Lewisham House was enclosed in 1817 and, finally in 1850, another part of the Church Meadow was added.

The churchyard was full and closed for burials in 1856. Since 1890 the churchyard has been managed as a public open space by the local authority (the Lewisham Board of Works). After its closure burials took place in the new cemetery in Ladywell Road.

The illustration (right) explains how the churchyard was gradually extended as land was acquired by the church since medieval times. There are many fine tombs in the churchyard some dating from the early 1700s. Many have finely sculpted cherubs, clouds, skulls and bones. Sadly many of these fine details have been eroded by acid rain.

Further information can be found in Ken White’s ‘Survey of The Churchyard of St Mary the Virgin’, Lewisham 1992 and, ‘St Mary’s Church Lewisham’, by Julian Watson 2004.

¤ Grant Them Eternal Rest, O Lord And Let Light Perpetual Shine Upon Them

‘Many resort here to drink the waters, the properties of which resemble those of Cheltenham’ Henry Warren, 1827…”

¤ “Memorial types from a Survey by Ken White 1992

– Decorative monuments

There are numerous headstones with symbolic carvings. This example for J. Pragnell [8] has clouds with a cherub, skull and an hour glass. Dates from 1763.

– Ledger Stone

[Illustration of an inscription, ‘Here lyeth the Body of Richard Evans of  […] Parish of Lewisham who departed this life ye 18 of May Anno Dom. 1707 aged 67 years’] Early C18th. The oldest surviving example left in the churchyard is the memorial to Richard Evans, dated 1707 [9].

– Altar type

A cheaper version of the chest tomb with brick sides and an inscribed ledger stone on the top. Most of the inscriptions have been eroded.

– Head stone, body stone and foot stone

Style from the C18th and C19th. Some of the body forms are in brick and others in stone. Earliest of the type is 1702.

– Obelisk type

Including the impressive monument [5] to Ebenezer Blackwell (1731-1782) a banker who lived at ‘The Limes’ in Lewisham High Street…”

– “Chest tomb

Late C18th early C19th. Constructed of stone with decorative side pieces and an inscription on top often with several names and information about the deceased.”

[Some of the deceased buried in St Mary the Virgin churchyard:]

¤ “The How Family chest tomb [6]

The How family were high quality cutlers in the C18th, and owned a mill in the hamlet of Southend in the south of the parish if Lewisham (Homebase Pool). Ephraim How, who was master of the Cutlers’ Company, moved from Chingford in 1709 and began production at the mill in Lewisham. The finished goods were sold at his shop in Holborn…”

¤ “Thomas Dermody (1775-1802) [7]

A low altar tomb in memory of the poet who was much admired during his lifetime. He was born at Ennis in County Clare in Ireland on 15 January 1775 and died in Lewisham in 1802. A biography containing all of his poems was published in 1807.

¤ Captain Charles Weller (1782-1866) [4]

The remarkable cast iron rope surrounding a stone cross memorial symbolises a naval career: he was Captain of the Albion for the East India Company navy and is buried here with his wife Maria who died in 1870 aged 83.”

(from a public information point at St Mary the Virgin churchyard)

Commemorating the abolition of slavery: The Buxton Memorial, London

London parks in autumn: Bessborough Gardens


Bus route 52 to the Jamaican High Commission, London

London, UK, images; public transport

The Jamaican High Commission in Prince Consort Road, London, UK
The Jamaican High Commission in Prince Consort Road, London

Address and postcode: Jamaican High Commission, 1-2 Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ

Bus route 52 from Victoria to the Jamaican High Commission: Victoria Station – Hyde Park Corner – Knightsbridge Station – Exhibition Road (alight here for the Jamaican High Commission) – Kensington Palace – Notting Hill Gate Station – Ladbroke Grove Station – Kensal Rise Station – Willesden Green Library (and vice versa)

Egerton Gardens, London SW3

London, UK, images; parks and gardens – Kensington & Chelsea

Address and postcode: Egerton Gardens, Brompton, London SW3 2DG

Nearest Underground Station: South Kensington

Daffodils in Egerton Gardens, Brompton, London, UK
Daffodils in Egerton Gardens, Brompton, London

Selected houses and pretty front gardens in London

Habitats in London: Euston Square Gardens

Seasonal flowers: April in Victoria Embankment Gardens

The winding path from St Mary’s Garden to Ladywell Station

Features of Hyde Park, London W2

London, UK, images; parks and gardens – Royal Parks

Hyde Park, London, viewed from the East
Hyde Park, London, Viewed from the East

Address and postcode: Hyde Park, London W2 2UH (approximate postcode)

Nearest Underground Station (South)Knightsbridge Station

Features of Hyde Park:

Achilles Statue, Lovers Walk, Broad Walk, Bandstand, Queen Elizabeth Gate, Nannies Lawn, The Holocaust Memorial Gardens, Rose Garden, The Dell, Albert Gate, Prince of Wales Gate, Alexandra Gate, Bowling Greens, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, The Serpentine, Rotten Row, South Carriage Drive, Rutland Gate, West Carriage Drive, Serpentine Road, The Lookout Education Centre, Broad Walk, North Ride, Victoria Gate, Clarendon Gate, Albion Gate, Stanhope Place Gate, Speaker’s Corner

Advertisement for the “market leader of building materials” in London

3D Mysteries in London

London, UK, images; museums and galleries – Kensington & Chelsea

"Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D" in the Science Museum, London, UK
“Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D” in the Science Museum, London

Address and postcode: Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD

Nearest Underground StationSouth Kensington Station

“IMAX Theatre presents: Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D”; “Coming soon: Revelations – Experiments in Photography – until 13 September”

More events

The Vinyl Factory, Strand, WC2

Austin Kaye & Co, London WC2R

London, UK, images; wholesale and retail – wristwatches

Shopping on the Strand, London: wristwatches

Address and postcode: Austin Kaye & Co, 452 Strand, London WC2R 0QE

Nearest Underground Station: Temple Station

A window display: “The world’s finest pre-owned watches”, “The watch specialists”, “Seamaster – Evolving from the watch supplied to the British Air Force during World War II the Seamaster is famous for its durability and toughness. Designed to tackle the most harsh conditions. The Seamaster is known for its superior water-resistance, robustness and high precision. Due to their age vintage Omegas are no longer water proof but they perfect for all other occasions. The Seamaster is available in a wide range of movements including automatic, manual and quarz and have undergone numerous changes in design and styles over the years…”, “Omega Constellation – Automatic Day-Date – circa 1968 – 2 Year Guarantee”, price, £, Pound Sterling, “Omega Military – Manual Vintage – circa 1945”