ALL SAINTS' CHURCH
All Saints’, Fulham stands on the northern bank of the Thames by Putney Bridge, facing St. Mary’s, Putney across on the Surrey side.
It isn’t really clear when Fulham Church first came into being. The Bishops of London held land here – what is now Bishop’s Park and Fulham Palace – since the late Anglo-Saxon period. No church is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but this is no true indication as much of the Middlesex folios of the Book don’t mention churches.
The first definitive mention is of a rector to the church in 1242 when Henry III was a frequent visitor to Fulham. It seems likely that this first church was destroyed during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 when records at Fulham Palace were also destroyed. However, by 1392 land was being granted as being “near the churchyard of Fulham” which implies a rebuild of some kind had been undertaken by this point.
By the mid-1400s the church was certainly back in parochial use. In 1440 the tower is recorded as being under construction, but architectural evidence also points to the lower part of the tower being older, so it is possible this new construction happened on the base of an older construction. The church was first dedicated to All Saints in 1445 so this may coincide with completion of the tower.
During the Civil War, Putney, across the River was a stronghold for the Parliamentarians and it seems that Fulham Church, and indeed the Bishop’s Palace next door, were ceded to Parliament early on with little or no resistance. In 1770 the church underwent an extensive rebuild, and at this time an octagonal wooden spire was most likely added to the tower, this was removed in the 1800s.
In 1840 the church was enlarged but this was clearly not sufficient because only 50 years later the church was closed and everything but the tower was demolished in order to rebuild. The Bishop of London employed his son, Sir Arthur Blomfield, as architect for the rebuild and the church was consecrated in 1881.
Since this rebuild no further full restructures have occurred, although there have been numerous renovations and additions. It is certainly worth looking into the church on your way to Fulham Palace.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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