Christians have worshipped on the site of the present church of St Mary Magdalene for at least 800 years – the first chapel being mentioned in a document dated 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 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.
Over the past 4 years: the frosted windows in the Nave have been replaced with clear glass; the 1866 bench pews and the wooden platform and concrete base on which they sat …… were removed and underfloor heating installed with Purbeck Limestone laid throughout the Nave except for the existing Ledger Stones; new moveable bench pews have been installed in the Nave and seats for the Aisles. New facilities have installed in the North Porch and North-West corner.
The completion of the 4 year renovation plan has presented us with the most fabulous opportunity to celebrate our 800th Anniversary – an opportunity to re-dedicate and re-introduce the beautiful Church of St Mary Magdalene to the people of Richmond and beyond. A place that has witnessed the hopes, fears, joys and sorrows of the people of Richmond over the last 8 centuries. A holy and sacred place that has heard the prayers of the people of Richmond at the heart of Richmond.
A year of diverse events is planned to showcase, the rich history of Richmond and this Church, local talent and the adaptability of the space within the church following the removal of the static pews.
We hope you will find the Programme Events interesting and exciting and hope you will join us at numerous points throughout the year to celebrate this landmark anniversary.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing the people of Richmond getting involved in one or more of the wide variety of Anniversary Events
5 years in the planning. We celebrate the Church and the people of Richmond who have shared their joys and sorrows here. During the Anniversary we showcase the versatility of St Mary's for the future