Our Church History

The Parish Church of St Mary, 1900

Introduction

When Teddington was only a small fishing community the building stood on lands belonging to the Benedictine Abbey of Westminster. Gradually, over the centuries, the church grew, and in the 16th century the construction of the south aisle took place.

Today, this is the oldest part of the building and the Tudor brickwork can be seen on the outside wall. Following the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, the manor and church was leased to the King’s friends. Later the manor was leased to ‘one George Gates’ and in 1603 to the Hill family who held it until the 18th century.

Teddington changed completely after the arrival of the railway in 1863. New housing to accommodate the growing population was built on land on the other side of the railway bridge, and a new church, SS Peter & Paul was built in 1865 to serve the population. St Mary’s was becoming too small and it was decided that a new, large church should be built nearby. The new church, dedicated to St Alban, was dedicated in 1888. St Mary’s was closed in 1889 and allowed to fall into disrepair.

Fortunately, an appeal to restore it was successful and it was rededicated in 1938 and used for weekly services. In turn, St Alban’s itself gradually declined and was closed for public worship, in 1979 St Mary’s once more became the parish church with the addition of St Alban in its dedication – ‘St Mary with St Alban’.

Today the church is thriving with a fine parish hall and is continuing to reach out and serve the people of Teddington.

To read the full Church History Guide click below:

History_Guide

Recent History From 1863 – to 2017.

With the arrival of the railways at Teddington in 1863, the town’s population began to grow significantly as Teddington evolved into a suburban town with many attractions for those who wanted to find space, fresh air, parks and a Thameside location away from the environmental problems associated with large towns and cities – especially London. The old Parish Church of St Mary was not large enough to accommodate this expanding population and the final decades of the nineteenth century experienced a number of significant developments in the religious history of Teddington. The first of these was the result of certain “popish” practices introduced by Daniel Trinder, vicar of St Mary’s between 1857 and 1878. These included removing the old pews, introducing Hymns Ancient and Modern and preaching in a surplice. As a result, “Christ Church, Teddington (Middx.), was founded in 1864 by parishioners ‘regretting the lack of an Evangelical ministry in the parish’, and a permanent church was erected (in Station Road) in 1869-70; its first minister, John Sugden, was consecrated as a second bishop of the Free Church of England in 1876”.

SS Peter & Paul’s Church: As Built

SS Peter & Paul’s Church: As Designed

Daniel Trinder was also the driving force behind the founding of the new church of SS Peter & Paul, opened as a chapel of ease to St Mary’s in Broad Street in 1865 and supporting ‘high church practices’. The original church, built opposite the current church, was designed by G.E.Street and it was completed in 1873 although without the originally planned tower and spire. Seven years later, in 1880, it became an independent parish church with its own parish. Opposite the church stood Teddington Public School which in 1906 changed its name to St Mary’s and St Peter’s School, the new name reflecting the influence both churches had (and has) on Teddington’s first significant school which opened in 1832.

Interior of SS Peter & Paul’s Church, c.1904

The response to these changing circumstances was an ambitious one, aimed at replacing St Mary’s with a large, imposing Gothic-style church as close to the old church as possible. The impetus for a new church came from the Reverend Francis Leith Boyd (appointed vicar of St Mary’s in 1884) and local architect William Niven. St Alban the Martyr – as the new church was titled – was dedicated in 1889, whilst in the same year the church of St Mary was closed. Fortunately, although the old building deteriorated it was not demolished and because of its iconic status as one of Teddington’s oldest surviving buildings, St Mary’s was reopened for weekly services in 1936. Ironically, it was now St Alban’s which was under threat as the high cost of its upkeep was increasingly beyond the means of its declining congregation. The original ambitious design for the church had never been completed and it was finally declared redundant in 1977. St Mary’s regained its status as the local parish church with the title of St Mary with St Alban. St Alban’s itself was transformed into the Landmark Arts Centre following major repair and refurbishment work in the 1990s. This finally completed the ambitious project started a century earlier but not in the way originally planned.

St Alban’s Church, Teddington, in 1906

Mention should also be made of the new church built in the north of Teddington and opened in 1913. This was the church of SS Michael & George, designed by J.S.Adkins.

Church of SS Michael & George, Fulwell

It was designated as a parish church in 1914 to cater for the growing population of Fulwell. The boundaries of the new parish were allocated from the original parish of SS Peter & Paul. The latter experienced further change in the 1970s when the Victorian church building was demolished and replaced by the current building on the opposite corner of Church

Demolition of SS Peter & Paul’s Church, 1978

Road. The new church was built on the site once occupied by St Mary’s and St Peter’s school which, in 1974, had moved to its current position fronting Church and Somerset Roads.

Once again, fluctuating fortunes in the final quarter of the twentieth century led to rationalisation and the two churches of SSP&P and SSM&G were joined as a united parish in the 1990s. This was not a happy experience for many involved at the time, and finally the church SS Michael & George was closed on the familiar grounds that the cost of needed repairs and upkeep were beyond the means of the small congregation. As with previous church closures in Teddington, the building deteriorated but, fortunately, was not demolished and in 2014 the church re-opened as St Michael’s and now flourishes. It has a bright future.

This brief outline provides some historical context to the current movement towards closer co-operation between the two parish churches of St Mary with St Alban and St Peter & St Paul which can now face the future with renewed vigour and optimism.

Rev Joe Moffatt and Rev Azariah France Williams. St Mary with St Alban and St Peter and St Paul. Two Churches Serving One Parish.

 

Chris French

September 2016

You can find more on the history of Teddington Town at:

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol3/pp66-69

www.teddingtonsociety.org.uk

www.twickenham-museum.org.uk

http://stmarywithstalban.org/content/history

Teddington