Hampstead, Middlesex

Hampstead Parish Church, Hampstead, Middlesex

The earliest church in Hampstead was a Benedictine foundation dating to 986. There is no certainty as to whereabouts this might have been. A church was certainly in operation here by 1300, and it seems that the Benedictines may have held on right up to the Dissolution as the Bishop of London installed a vicar here in 1545. Only six years later the parish was suppressed by Edward VI, possibly for its continuing Catholic practices.

It doesn’t seem like the suppression was very effective, as a timber and stone church was still in existence here in the 1600s and by 1744 had become so dangerous that the congregation hesitated to go inside. A competition was started to design a new church for the growing suburb and it was eventually won by John Sanderson. The winning design was controversial as it cut a number of corners and went through a number of sudden redesigns. It was consecrated in 1747 and the tower was added around 1783, by which time the church was already suffering from subsidence.

By 1827 Hampstead had become a huge sprawling village within easy reach of the City of London and so there were moved made to make the church larger. It took until 1843 for plans to get the go ahead and another ten years before work was completed. Only fifty years later the church was expanded a further time, around 1911.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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