St Mary’s Old Church, Battersea

st marys

I have a lengthy familial connection with this church, which is located on the southern (Lambeth) side of the River Thames in London, just by Battersea Bridge. Both myself and my sister were christened there, we think my mother and her siblings may have been christened there (but we’re not sure and we can’t prove it) and some slightly more remote family members are mentioned in the War Memorial in the foyer. In various ways, this church provides documentary evidence that members of my family have been in the parish for about four or five generations.

Of slightly more interest to me is the fact that my favourite poet, William Blake, apparently married in St Mary’s. Whilst I find this delightful, I also find it rather puzzling as I had always thought Blake was a Dissenter, and St Mary’s is Church of England. I don’t believe he was a regular congregant (which doesn’t surprise me at all) but I can see the façade of the church inspiring some of Blake’s etchings; it’s a very classical structure but seems not to be as classical as it could be. I love it.

St Mary’s is still going strong with regular services and a decent sized congregation. The only thing it lacks, like many urban churches, is a graveyard. Shame, I would have liked to have been buried there. Perhaps having my ashes scattered over the gravel drive at the front would be the next best thing?

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