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History of St Mary’s

Christians have worshipped on the site of the present church of St Mary Magdalene for around 800 years – the first chapel having been built in around 1220.

The church was entirely rebuilt in the period 1487-1506, no doubt the result of the increased importance and prosperity of the village after the Earl of Richmond (in Yorkshire) took the throne, becoming Henry VII, and began to use the royal palace of Sheen. During this period the palace itself was also rebuilt and, in 1501, renamed Richmond. The only survival from this time is the two bottom sections of the TOWER (up to the clock chamber), including the WEST DOORWAY, the window above, and the arch leading from the tower into the chancel. The third stage (the bell chamber) was added in 1624 and the whole re-faced in flint to match the new east end building in 1904.

The NORTH AISLE was added in 1699. The Tudor NAVE and a SOUTH AISLE that had been added in c.1614 were rebuilt in 1750 in a matching Georgian classical style. The iron window frames replaced ‘ricketty lead lights’ in 1850.

A scheme of alterations carried out in 1864-6 (architect A.W.Blomfield) included replacing a plaster ceiling over the nave with the present open timber roof, new galleries entered from staircases in new north and south porches, and replacing the old box pews with the present bench pews.

The north and south galleries were soon taken down in the next major scheme undertaken in 1903-4 (architect George F. Bodley) when the small Tudor chancel was replaced by an entire new east end comprising vestry, CHANCEL and two CHAPELS in a neo-gothic style. The last major change was the removal of the west gallery in 1935-6.