Inventory Site Record

St Mary's Churchyard, Barnes

St Mary's Churchyard, Barnes (Richmond)

Brief Description

There has been a church in Barnes since medieval times, a small flint chapel pre-dating the present church of St Mary built in the C12th. The church was enlarged over the years but in 1978 it was gutted by fire and was rebuilt in 1982-84 although its C15th tower survived. Until the mid C19th the churchyard was probably the only consecrated ground in the parish; burials ceased when the churchyard was full and land for a cemetery was enclosed on Barnes Common. The church lych-gate was built for the coronation of Edward VII in 1903. The war memorial was unveiled by Field Marshall Earl Haig in 1921. During restoration of the church following the 1978 fire, the churchyard was neglected but in 1984 restoration of the garden began. A seasonal garden has been created with an emphasis on beauty of foliage and harmony of colour, choosing plants with Biblical associations.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Barnes Parish Church
Site location:
Church Road, Barnes
SW13 9HL
Type of site:
Open to public?
Opening times:
unrestricted. Church open Mon-Sat 10.30am-12.30pm
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Hammersmith (District, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly) then bus. Rail: Barnes/Barnes Bridge then bus. Bus: 209

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.

Full Site Description

St Mary's Barnes is part of the Barnes Team Ministry, together with Holy Trinity Church Castelnau and St Michael's Church, Elm Bank Gardens. In c.925 AD the Manor of Barnes was given to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral by King Athelstan and during the first half of the C12th a small flint chapel stood on a gravel mound in Barnes, the remains of which are an integral part of the present St Mary's church. The first known documentation of a church here is in 1181, and over the next centuries the building was expanded, an enlarged church re-dedicated in 1215 by Archbishop Stephen Langton during his journey back to London after the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. A brick tower was added in the late C15th, around which time the external buttresses on the south wall were also added, and in 1777 permission was given to Sir Richard Hoare, living at the Manor House and estate at Barn Elms, for a northward extension with a private gallery for his family, servants' chapel and family vault. A north aisle was added in 1786. By this time the size of the parish had increased and continued to do so, particularly after the London to Richmond railway opened in 1846. In 1852 the nave was enlarged to provide more seating, and in 1905-6 a new north aisle, a chancel and sanctuary at the east end and an extension to the west end enlarged the capacity further. The exterior of the tower, which has a church clock and sundial dating from 1794, was renovated to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1978 the church was gutted by fire, and was rebuilt in 1982-84 by Edward Cullinan architects. In 1990 the C15th tower that had survived the fire was repaired, and a time capsule was sealed in the wall under the stone coping at the top of the south-east corner of the tower.

Until the mid C19th the churchyard was probably the only consecrated ground in the parish; the earliest site of the burial ground was west of the C12th church. The main entrance is through the lych-gate built for the coronation of Edward VII, with a plaque in memory of 10 parishioners who died in the Boer War; it was unveiled in April 1903. Among the monuments are family altar-tombs for John Suter (d.1787) and John Biggs (d.1784) both market gardeners, which was an important local industry, and members of the Misplees family, several of whom were watermen, including David Misplee (d.1716) who was waterman to Charles II, James II, Queen Anne and George I. To the right of the porch on the south wall of the church is a tablet to Mr Edward Rose (d.1653), now hidden by the ancient yew that was planted in 1485. He bequeathed £20 to purchase an acre of land for the parish, the rent from which was to be used for the benefit of the poor of the parish and to provide a rose tree to mark his grave. Now planted out of the shade of the yew tree, a rose thrives in his memory. Other altar-tombs commemorate the Waring and Hunt families, brewers and owners of inns in Barnes, and Samuel Gatweed (d.1808) once landlord of The Sun Inn is buried north of the war memorial. Captain William Dawson (d.1859) and members of his family are buried in an elaborate altar-tomb with fouled anchors sculpted at the base, and a further monument to Captain Dawson is on the outer north wall of the Langton Chapel, formerly inside the church. It is claimed that he was the younger of two sons of Mrs Maria Fitzherbert and the Prince Regent, later George IV. The Rt. Hon Sir Lancelot Shadwell (d.1850) is buried in a family vault, the last Vice-Chancellor of England who lived at Barn Elms from 1835 until he died.

Burials ceased when the churchyard was overcrowded in the mid C19th, and in 1854 two acres of Barnes Common were enclosed for further burials, now known as the Old Barnes Cemetery (q.v.). During restoration of the church following the 1978 fire, the churchyard was neglected but in 1984 restoration of the churchyard garden began, undertaken by Brenda Moore. She has created a seasonal garden with an emphasis on beauty of foliage and harmony of colour, choosing plants with Biblical associations such as Glastonbury thorn, Judas tree, Madonna lilies, Christmas and Lenten roses; scented and fragrant plants such as Myrtle , Christmas box, winter honeysuckle, rosemary, lavender and roses; plants with decorative foliage for use within the church; wild areas in a woodland garden and bulb border; and a garden of remembrance for the scattering of ashes. A donor scheme was set up whereby parishioners could contribute to commemorative shrubs. A plaque states that the garden was highly commended in the Daily Mail National Garden Competition of 1996.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999 p468; St Mary's Church Barnes, guide for visitors and friends, 1996; Judith Blacklock, 'A Churchyard Garden' in The Flower Arranger, Vol. 36 No.2, summer 1996. See website

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Site management:
Church: C13th, on; garden 1996
1996 Garden: Brenda Moore
Listed structures:
LBII*: St Mary's Church
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:
Barnes Green
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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