St John the Baptist has a fascinating history starting in the late 19th century. The ceremony of laying the first stone was held on 25 June 1855, and the consecration took place on 7 August 1856. The first vicar, Rev John Yarker was instituted on 26 September 1856.
The carvings on the pulpit are a replica of the shape of the windows, in St John’s. In the same way the windows bring in light, the preacher sheds light on the Gospel from the pulpit.
The baptismal font is positioned near the door of the church, as it is usually the first life event of the church-goer. Our font has an inscription at its base that reads:
The Font and Communion Plate of this Church were presented by the Parishioners of Isleworth as a memorial of respect to the
Revd Henry Glossop A.M. who resigned his Cure in October 1854,
after being 33 years Vicar of Isleworth.
The east window, above the altar, was gifted to St John’s in 1858 and depicts 14 scenes from Holy Week, including: the Last Supper, Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus praying while the disciples sleep, the kiss of Judas, Simon helping to carry the cross, Jesus on the cross, and Christ triumphant. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, writers of the four Gospels, are also depicted near the top of the window.
In the early years of St John’s, congregants would reserve their pew seats for services. The pew numbers, at the outside ends of the pews, and the card holders, for the name of those reserving that seat, can still be seen at St John’s. In an 1862 report, mention was made that one in every seven sittings was ‘obliged to be sacrificed on account of ladies dresses’ as large skirts were fashionable.
Today there are no seating reservations, except perhaps for the church warden.
The first window on the left, as you enter the church from the porch, depicts the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9) and the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-6). The scroll held by the angel at the top reads ‘The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God’. This window was dedicated to the parents of James Deason, the architect of St John’s.
St Mary the Virgin on Worton Road had its foundation stone laid on 22 November 1952. The consecration, which took place on 12 June 1954, was reported on the front page of The Middlesex Chronicle under the heading ‘First New Parish Church in Area since War’.
The current church bell at St Mary’s sailed the seas as a ship’s bell for 13 years (1915-1928) before being presented and dedicated on 12 November 1950. The first name of the ship, SS Sandford is still inscribed on the bell. Zoom into the image to read her full, fascinating history.
This reredos at the front of St Mary’s depicts the life of Mary the Virgin. It is executed in painted tiles with a matte glaze, which was very innovative at the time. Much experimentation was needed by its makers Messrs Carter & Co. of Poole, and its designer Mr J Ledger to achieve the bright colours.
Clockwise from top left: St Mary as a child with St Anne and St Joachim; the Purification; the Annunciation; the Flight into Egypt; the Assumption; Descent from the cross.
Centre: Our Lady crowned with Child.
Four kings are depicted at the bottom of the painted tile reredos in St Mary’s instead of the traditional four Gospel authors. The reason was that the church was built largely in the year of the Coronation of our present Queen.
In the chapel of St Mary’s, the small window over the alter shows a modern version of St Joseph as a working carpenter, surrounded by the tools of his trade.
(Taken from The Story of St John the Baptist and The Story of St Mary the Virgin by Brian Grumbridge – please contact us for details on purchasing a copy of these books if you are interested)
* This page has new information added each week – please return next week to read more facts about the history of St John’s and St Mary’s.