FIRST - London Church to be Bombed in WWII - St Mary's, Upper Street, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 32.304 W 000° 06.128
30U E 700960 N 5713680
Quick Description: A notice in St Mary's Church Garden advises that St Mary's was the first London church to be bombed in World War II. The body of the church was re-built between 1954 and 1956.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/14/2012 8:11:53 AM
Waymark Code: WMF9BM
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Zork V
Views: 0

Long Description:

The notice, in St Mary's Church Garden, tells us:

"St Mary's Church Garden used to be Islington Parish Churchyard where many historical dignitaries were laid to rest. The presence of a achurch here dates from the early years after the Norman Conquest. The original building was rebuilt in 1483 and this was replaced by a new Georgian building in 1751-54. St Mary's was the first London church to be bombed in World War II. The body of the church was again rebuilt in 1954-56, although the 18th century tower, steeple and crypt remained. St Mary's church continues to be an important community venue for year-round services and events. St Mary's Community Centre, next to the church, was built in 1977-79 and the crypt redeveloped in 2008-09.

The churchyard was enlarged in 1793, and was laid out as a public garden in 1885. The early 19th century layout of main diagonal paths and forecourt remain intact. The headstones stacked around its perimeter walls highlight its atmospheric environment and there are some notable mature Plane and Lime trees. The gardens were enhanced on the north side in the 1960s with the construction of a sunken rock garden. A major redevelopment of the gardens took place in 2001. The rock garden was removed, the paths reshaped, the circular garden with floral beds near St Mary's Path installed with an ornamental sundial and a drinking fountain added."

A short guide has been produced by the church [ visit link ] and it tells us:

"Very little is known for certain of the origins of the first churches on the site, but it is believed there was a Norman church on the site in the 12th century which was replaced by a new building in the fifteenth century. This had a square tower at the west end and served the parish until 1751. The bells from this church recast and repaired several times since, still hang in and ring from the present tower.

By 1751 the church was dilapidated and was felt to be dangerous and the then churchwardens decided to rebuild. An Act of Parliament was passed authorising them to raise the money for this and a new church was started in 1751 and consecrated on 26 May 1754. This was designed by Launcelot Dowbiggin, who was a joiner, who is also thought to have designed the tower of St Mary’s Rotherhithe.

Until the early nineteenth century St Mary’s served as the only church in the parish, which covered the current borough of Islington north of the Angel and Pentonville Road – Archway to the Angel and York Way to Green Lanes. The Vicar, George Strahan, and his church wardens took steps to build what has become St Mary Magdalene in Holloway Road which was consecrated in 1814. After that as the population in the area increased from about 20,000 to nearly 100,000 there was extensive church building throughout Islington.

At the end of the nineteenth century, under the leadership of The Revd William Haggar Barlow the Vicarage was built, designed by William Henry Barlow, who also built St Pancras Station. At about the same time the Bishop Wilson Memorial Hall with a capacity of 600 was built. This occupied the site now occupied by the Neighbourhood Centre which replaced it and was opened in 1979.

Between 1902 and 1904, partly because of a fire which destroyed the organ, a number of changes were made to the church including extending the chancel. The opportunity was also taken to remove coffins in the crypt which were emitting noxious odours. However the main visible legacy of this period is the portico.

On Monday 9 September 1940, the third night of the blitz, a bomb hit the church and destroyed everything other than the tower and portico. The tower withstood the blast because of strengthening in the mid-1930s.

Immediately after the war finished the Vicar, The Revd Hugh Gough, set in motion plans for rebuilding. Henry Seely (Lord Mottistone) and Paul Paget were selected as architects but the funding took time and work only started in March 1954, and was carried out by local builders, Dove Brothers. The dedication of the new church took place on 17 December 1956.

By the 1980s the flat roof was giving trouble. A successful fundraising campaign was undertaken and a pitched roof was installed on top of the existing structure. This now supports the array of solar panels (maximum generating capacity 22kWh) which were installed in 2011."

The Church is Grade II listed and the entry at the English Heritage website [ visit link ] tells us:

"Anglican church. The original church of 1751-54 by Launcelot Dowbiggin; portico added 1903; all but the tower and portico rebuilt after bomb damage, 1955-6, to the designs of Seely and Paget. Brick set in Flemish bond, and stone; roof obscured by parapet. West front and east end of three bays, sides of eight bays, the easternmost projecting. Portico to all three western bays with coupled Ionic columns and engaged Ionic antae; modillion cornice; central segmental pediment with low-relief Nativity scene; outer bays with parapet and balustrade. Central flat-arched entrance to the church with stone bolection-moulded architrave and panelled doors; blank windows with similar architraves to either side. At gallery level, round-arched windows with stone architraves and keystones, the middle bay projecting with pediment; chamfered quoins and modillion cornice; brick parapet to side bays with stone coping. The tower of two stages with chamfered quoins and stone band between stages; the first stage has a clock under a segmental pediment on all but the east side; the belfry has louvred windows with eared architraves and keystones; modillion cornice. Four stone urns rest on the four corners of the tower and an octagonal balustrade surrounding the spire which rises through octagonal and circular-arcaded stages to a tapering octagon. On the side elevations, all architraves of stone; two windows to the westernmost bay; then full-height flat-arched windows to the next six; then a full-height tripartite window to the last, projecting, bay. The east end has windows in the outer bays and a cruciform design in stone in the middle bay; cornice and parapet continue from west front.

INTERIOR: : there is virtually a single space for worship with small 'transepts' either side of the chancel; dado panelling throughout, the walls above lined with cork; coffered ceiling. The chancel and transepts are defined by fluted columns of grey marble with gilded palm leaf capitals; reredos in the form of a plain gilded cross surrounded by painted panels on the theme of 'The Eight Attributes of Christ' by Brian Thomas, with a border of gilded paterae; altar table, communion rails and pulpits in an C18 manner with carved and gilded scrolling foliage. Organ gallery at west end carried on wooden Tuscan columns which carried the galleries in the former church, with central painted panel of 'Christ the Judge' by Brian Thomas."

A notice board outside the front of the church advises that the principle services are held at:

Sundays: 11.00am and 6.00pm
Wednesdays: 12.45pm

FIRST - Classification Variable: Item or Event

Date of FIRST: 9/9/1940

More Information - Web URL: Not listed

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