5 – Facing the Altar from church centre.

But first we have to go back a century or so and explain what happened in the fifteenth century, during the 100 Years War between England and France (1337-1453). In around 1414, just before the battle of Agincourt, King Henry V decided he didn’t want any French monks around and he confiscated all the possessions of the Norman monasteries in England and gave them to a new abbey, Syon, in Middlesex. The Abbess of Syon maintained the east end of the church until 1539 when at the Reformation, (caused by Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon)  Syon like all religious houses in England was dissolved.

In any case, after the Reformation all the shrines and images which filled the apses and chapels of the church were forbidden so the east end and the transepts were allowed to fall down. Queen Elizabeth I asked for a report in 1578 and was told that the east end of the church was collapsing – it was the “haunt of pigeons.” In the 1590s the parishioners raised money to demolish it and build the present tower at the other end of the church.

If you would like to hear more about the dramatic events of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign click here

In 1864 there was a major restoration and the church was supported by the stout buttresses you see today.  The marble relief behind the altar (the reredos) and the Gothic Revival east window above it were all designed by the architect who did the restoration, Gordon Hills.

Please move back to the War Memorial at north west end of the church (see 6 on plan) and then press Next.