Inventory Site Record

Mortlake Churchyard, St Mary the Virgin, Mortlake

Mortlake Churchyard, St Mary the Virgin, Mortlake (Richmond)

Brief Description

Mortlake was a medieval village, and the first church recorded was a chapel erected in 1348 near the Manor House. St Mary's Church was built on the present site in 1543. The original parish burial ground was a piece of land next to the old chapel that had been given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1383. St Mary's churchyard was enlarged in 1725/6, in 1742 and again in 1799. It was closed to burials in 1854. The maintenance of the churchyard became the responsibility of the local council in the 1920s. Having become neglected, it was restored as a garden in the 1980s and is now maintained by the Friends of Mortlake Churchyard.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Mortlake Parish Church
Site location:
Mortlake High Street, Mortlake
SW14 8JA
Type of site:
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail: Mortlake

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.'s

Full Site Description

Mortlake was a medieval village, but there may have been a prehistoric settlement here since Stone Age implements have been found in the area. Before the Norman Conquest Earl Harold owned lands and a fishery here, and the Archbishops of Canterbury held the Manor of Mortlake until 1536. At the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, the Manor of Mortlake included Wimbledon, Putney and Barnes and the parish was served by a church at Wimbledon. In the C19th, prior to its residential development following the arrival of the railway, the land had been largely used for market gardening. The first church recorded in Mortlake was erected in 1348 under licence of Edward III, 'for the ease of the bodies, and the health of the souls of the Inhabitants of Mortlake and East Sheen, who were far distant from the parish Church of Wimbledon' (Anderson). At that time this chapel was sited near the Manor House, where the present brewery now stands. In 1536 the ownership of the Manor passed to Henry VIII from Archbishop Cranmer in exchange for other lands. In 1543 the chapel was pulled down and a new church of St Mary was built on the present site. The path leading into the churchyard marks the former boundary of the parish. The original parish burial ground was a piece of land next to the old chapel that had been given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1383. St Mary's churchyard was enlarged in 1725/6 when Lord Palmerston, John Barber and Daniel Pettyward gave land, and again in 1742 when further land was given by Alderman John Barber. Barber is buried in the churchyard; he was a member of the Goldsmiths' Company and Lord Mayor of London in 1732-33. The churchyard was further enlarged in 1799 by land given by William Woolfe, Vestry Clerk of the parish for 55 years (d.1828) who is buried in the churchyard. It was closed to burials in 1854 apart from burials in family vaults, and the parish bought land for a new cemetery in South Worple Road, now known as Old Mortlake Cemetery (q.v.).

The maintenance of the churchyard became the responsibility of the local council in the 1920s. After WWII a scheme was put forward to turn St Mary's churchyard into a garden of rest but this did not take place and by the late 1970s the churchyard was derelict. In 1983 a successful appeal was launched by the Mortlake Cemetery Association with the London Borough of Richmond, the Parochial Church Council, and Barnes and Mortlake Historical Society. Its restoration was completed in 1986, laid out to designs by Allan Hart. In 1865 the arch had been removed from the entrance under the tower when repairs were being carried out and it was re-erected in the churchyard on the instruction of Eustace Anderson, Vestry Clerk from 1867, and father of the renowned local historian John Eustace Anderson, whose 'History of Mortlake' was first published in 1886, and himself was later Vestry Clerk from 1889 to his death in 1915.

The earliest surviving tomb is that to John Partridge who died in 1715, who was an astrologer, almanac-maker and quack. There are numerous tombs of famous people buried at Mortlake, both well-known in the area and more widely. These include William Sanders (d.1784) who set up the first Mortlake Pottery in the mid C18th, producing fine delftware; members of the Kishere Family who owned the second Mortlake Pottery Works in the early C19th; Maria Catherine de Jong, Marchioness of Blandford (d.1799), widow of the grandson of the Duke of Marlborough and member of Horace Walpole's set; Henry Addington (d.1844), who was Prime Minister in 1801-04 and created first Viscount Sidmouth in 1805. From 1801 he lived at White Lodge in Richmond Park (q.v.), where he was Deputy Ranger from 1813, making various improvements to restore the park, such as the Sidmouth Plantation. Sir John Temple (d.1704) Speaker of the Irish Parliament; the Penrhyn Tomb of 1853, which includes Edward Penrhyn (d.1861), the first Chairman of the Richmond Board of Guardians in 1836 and of the Surrey Quarter Sessions from 1844, as well as his son Edward Hugh Leycester Penrhyn (d.1919), first Chairman of Surrey County Council in 1889.

The Friends of Mortlake Churchyard look after the churchyard. In 2003 a Labyrinth was created on the north side of the church, based on a simple design of four circuits as found at Temple Cowley near Oxford. It was originally used at Easter but is now laid out in natural materials and provides a place of meditation throughout the year. A new venture is Mortlake Quiet Gardens, with two afternoons a year taking place in the churchyard gardens.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999 p513; information board in churchyard; John Eustace Anderson 'A History of Mortlake', 1886 (facsimile with amendments by Raymond Gill, 1983); 'St Mary the Virgin, A Historical Guide' on church website

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Site management:
Friends of Mortlake Churchyard
C16th; 1983-86
1980s restoration: Allan Hart
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

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:
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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