St Mary’s Church
About St Mary's
There has been a centre of Christian worship on this site from at least the 12th century.The parts of the medieval church which survive today are the tower, some of the nave arcading (mid-15th century) and the Bishop West Chapel, built in the early 16th century by Putney resident, Nicholas West.
During the Civil War, the headquarters of Oliver Cromwell’s army was briefly located in Putney. In 1647, meetings of the Army Council were held in the then Chancel of the church. These discussions on the future government of the realm were published as the “Putney Debates”.
The Victorians substantially rebuilt and enlarged the church in 1836; it then featured an east – facing Altar, galleries on three sides and box pews.
In 1973 an arson attack gutted much of the church. Rebuilding was not completed until 1982, when the church was re-hallowed by the Bishop of Woolwich, on 6th February.
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St Mary’s Churchyard and the old Burial Ground in Upper Richmond Road were opened in 1763. They were subsequently closed under The Burial Act 1853, although some burials continued in existing family graves after this date (i.e wife or husband). The construction of the current Putney Bridge also curtailed burials at St Mary’s as land was ceded to the development.
The new burial ground opened in 1855 at Putney Lower Common (Lower Richmond Road). When this proved too small Putney Vale Cemetery was opened in 1891 and is still in use.
To see registers please contact the office at Putney Vale Crematorium for Lower Common Cemetery and Putney Vale Crematorium. While some burial records may state that a burial is in St Mary’s register this would most likely be due to it being the then Parish Church and that, in fact, services would be held in the chapels at Lower Common Cemetery, likewise at Putney Vale Crematorium.
Following the 1973 fire a lot of our surviving registers went to the London Metropolitan Archives.
Other sources of information may be found at Wandsworth Historical Society, as well as Battersea Library:
Some of the pillars and arches, including some of the angels, are medieval, but both north and south arcades were widened in the rebuilding of 1836.
During the restoration of 1982, the altar and the sanctuary were moved to the north side of the church, the pews replaced with chairs, and the orientation of the church turned through 90 degrees. The architect of the restoration was Ronald Sims; the stained glass windows designed by Alan Younger.
The Brewer Building
Today the church sits alongside a striking two storey glass building which was designed to accommodate the ever increasing congregation and to provide enhanced community space for many local groups and organisations.
The architect of the building was Alan Pates and it was officially opened on 21st September 2005 by The Rt Rev’d Dr Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark.