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Open House Church Tour

A colour coded version of this tour with images is available to download from the bottom of this page

St Margaret of Antioch, Lee 

This is the third church on the site of St Margaret’s Lee and was opened in 1841. The architect was John Brown of Norwich. The original church was painted white, had a flat ceiling and stopped before the current screen.

In 1873 a new Rector, Frederick Law and his wife Adelaide, the daughter of the the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry arrived and wanted to create a High Church which reflected the text: “I will fill this house with Glory, saith the Lord” (as written along the right wall of the Nave.)

 James Brooks was the Architect for the current building. The church was enlarged with the Chancel, Lady Chapel, Organ Loft and a new ceiling.  The firm of Clayton and Bell were employed to cover the walls with paintings and to fill the windows with stained glass.  The paintings are Marouflage (painted on Canvas and backed with a thin compound of Lead and Zinc).

On the left hand side

You walk past 5 paintings and 8 windows:- These windows are by Archibald Keightley Nicholson and were installed in 1953-55 to replace WWII damage.

The window that is made up of the broken glass used to contain one representing St Thomas a Becket which was over the door.

The first painting (in the corner by the door) is the Evangelist St Matthew the next is The Sermon on the Mount,  St Columba (sailing to found Iona);  St Augustine (Baptising King Ethelbert of Kent);   The Marriage Feast at Cana;  St Edward the Confessor (with the map of Westminster Abbey), Stephen Langton (at the Magna Carta, with King John and first on the right Richard de Mountfichet , who two months later became the Lord of the Manor of Lee;   The Triumphful Entry into Jerusalem;  John Wycliffe  (And the Bible that he had just translated into English),  Thomas Cranmer  (Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr);  The Ascension;   William Wilberforce (Campaigning against the slave trade;  John Keble (Whose sermon started the Oxford Movement.) and St John the Evangelist.

In front of you is the Organ

The East End

East End Window – represents the “Te Deum” which is sung at Morning Prayer

Christ in Glory is surrounded by Cherubim and the Seraphim with red representing love and blue for wisdom.  Christ is supported by the Archangel Michael holding the scales of justice and by Saint Margaret of Antioch (Martyr and Patron Saint of Childbirth) to whom this church is dedicated. On either side are two Archangels. Gabriel carrying a lily to represent purity and Raphael holding a fish which alludes to the book of Tobit in the Old Testament.

Below are the groups mentioned in the Te Deum. Starting from the left and reading down:- “The goodly fellowship of the Prophets “  - Moses, with the tablets of the 10 Commandments; King David with his lyre; St John the Baptist with a plaque showing “the Lamb of God “; Elijah holding a raven which fed him in the desert.  

“The glorious company of the Apostles” – Peter with the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; John with a little green dragon who drank the poison that was meant to kill him; St Paul , who brought Christianity to the gentiles and carries the sword of his execution;  

St Matthew carries the gospel which he wrote and a moneybag from his days as a tax collector.     

“The noble army of Martyrs” is represented by a crusader in his armour carrying a banner of unknown importance; (any ideas?). King Edward 1 or Edward the Confessor it could be either; St George standing on the Dragon that he had killed. He was an inspiration to the Crusaders and is the patron of many countries including England;  St Alban was the first British Christian Martyr when he changed places with a priest who was going to be executed.

“The Holy Church throughout the World.”  The Venerable Bede was a monk, scholar and linguist from Northumberland;    St Margaret of Scotland, an English princess married  King Malcolm of Scotland . She was a very pious and charitable lady:;     St Augustine of Hippo came from North Africa. He became a Bishop and founded the Augustinian Order. He is wearing his mitre, and carrying a banner of Christ’s Crucifixion. He is one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church.;  St Gregory the Great  was  a writer and notable theologian who inspired the Gregorian Chants. His secretary used to see the dove hovering by his left ear.

The Reredos, below that window, was painted by Nathanial Westlake  

On the left, top:- The Last Supper, underneath: Manna from Heaven; 

Christ on his way to Calvary  and  Abraham and Isaac.

Old testament Sacrifices of Abel and Noah.

The central painting:- The Crucifixion with Christ flanked. By the Virgin Mary and St John.

On the right side: The Sacrifices of Melchisedek and Abraham.

Next the Entombment of Jesus and Joseph being flung into a pit by his brothers,

Finally The Resurrection of Christ and Jonah emerging from the Whale.

The WWI Memorial

The High Altar is our WWI  Memorial together with a carved wooden plaque with the names of 32 men. The memorial was designed by Sir Charles Nicholson and carved by Violet Pinwill. Violet is the only Lady craftsman who worked in the Church’s restoration. She has carvings in over 200 churches and her representation of Christ and St Margaret are magnified and in Truro Cathedral.

The carvings recall St Margaret’s Church and four other local churches with connections to St Margaret’s Lee. They are St Augustine (St Augustine, Grove Park),  Christ Church

 (Christ Church, Lee Park. which was damaged in WWII and later demolished) , St Mildred (St Mildred, Brownhill Rd), and St John the Baptist (The Victorian Chapel of St John the Baptist  in the original Boone’s Almshouses on the corner of Lampmead Rd and Lee High Road.)

The Chancel and the Lady Chapel are full of beauty.

 The marble and alabaster work is by Thomas Earp;  the Tiles are by Minton

The wood carvings by the De Wispelaere brothers of Bruges;   The Wrought Iron Rood Screen is by Cox and Buckley, and the Lecturn is by Thomas Thomason. The skilled ironworkers were all pupils of Francis Skidmore. 

As you turn to go back down the church, the Lady Chapel is on the left.

The walls are faced with marble mosaic with a carved figure of Christ in Blessing. The alabaster frieze was added in 1952.

The windows that you pass now are Victorian but their places were reshuffled after WWII

The two windows on the East side draw our attention to events in the Old testament that foreshadow the New:- Moses lifts up the serpent as Jesus will be lifted on the cross: and the water and Manna foretell the Bread and the Wine.

The other windows are of St Mary and St Martha at the raising of Lazarus;  St Mary Cleophas (the sister of the Virgin Mary and the mother of St James the Less, who stood at the foot of the Cross) and St Mary Magdalene with the risen Christ.

The altar has a strong pre-Raphaelite flavour and is designed in panels in which the four evangelists are grouped around the Agnus Dei

The Lady Chapel triptych depicts the Crucifixion in the centre and Saints down the two sides.

Women on the left :– St  Faith was martyred in 287; St  Ethelburga the Abbess of Barking died  676; St Cecilia Martyr, refused to renounce Christianity. Became the Patron Saint of Music in the 16th century; St Agatha was tortured and had her breasts cut off, Patron Saint of Bell-founders; St Ethelreda Founder of Ely Cathedral, and the most revered  Anglo-Saxon female Saint. Also known as Audrey who dedicated herself to God; St Agnes a virgin martyr who dedicated herself to God and would not marry.  Her parents had visions of her carrying a lamb (agnus);  St Lucy.  A Roman virgin Martyr. Her name means light so she is the Patron Saint of eye diseases and often shown carrying her eyes; St Catherine protested about the worshipping of idolsl. Philosophers were sent to argue with her but she defeated them so they had to die! She was beaten, tied to a spiked wheel (Firework - “Catherine Wheel”) which fell apart and she was eventually beheaded when her veins flowed with milk. Her body was taken to Sinai where her monastery is founded.   

Finally St Margaret – but which one?  She is wearing a crown for St Margaret of Scotland and she has a dragon for St Margaret of Antioch.

The men  on the right :- St Edmund was martyred by Vikings in 869. Shot by arrows he holds two.  He is buried in Bury St Edmunds; St Hugh Bishop of Lincoln from 1186 – 1200, he carries his Cathedral which he is rebuilding; St Jerome was learned in Hebrew and Greek,  and he translated the whole Bible into Latin -The Vulgate.  He is often shown with a lion because he extracted a thorn from a lion’s foot and wears a red hat and cloak of a papal adviser. St Ambrose Bishop of Milan 374, preacher, theologian. A skillful peace-maker who is shown with a bee-hive. St Augustine. St Margaret’s third representation of St Augustine. He is wearing a pallium, a narrow  wool stole a symbol of papal authority and holding Canterbury Cathedral which he founded. St Lawrence is a Deacon and Martyr. He carries a palm of Martyrdom and wears deacon’s robes. He was burnt on a gridiron for refusing to hand over his Church’s valuables saying that the valuables were the poor and the sick of the parish. St Clement is wearing his papal tiara. He was exiled to the Crimea by Emperor Trajan in 100 and martyred by drowning tied to an anchor which he holds. He carries the triple-barred cross usual in the eastern Churches. St Gregory shown wearing his Papal Tiara.      St Alban is the  1st  British Martyr. 

There are some delicate paintings on the front of the Altar of unknown origin

Back in the Nave there is the 1875 marble font which used to have a very tall, wooden gothic lid,  and  there is a marble Arcade from 1892 which shows Blind Bartimaeus, Nicodemus, Lazarus, Joseph of Aramathea and Cornelius the centurion.

Going down the right side of the nave there are alternating Paintings and Windows.

The first one, in the corner, is the Evangelist St Luke. The first windows show

Saints Andrew and James both with their father Zebedee in his boat and James has the scallop shell and gourd of a pilgrim (1881) ;    The Annunciation;    St Peter is being commissioned to “feed my Sheep”.   St John is attending the last supper so is Judas Iscariot who does not have a Halo but does have a bag of 30 pieces of silver;   The visit of the Magi:  Saint  Stephen is being stoned whilst Saul is guarding the pile of cloaks ; Saul has experienced his conversion and taken the name of Paul and St Barnabas is bringing  him to the apostles;  The Flight into Egypt;   St Paul is preaching to the Atheneians; St Paul is bringing St Timothy to the Apostles;  Christ is in the temple talking with the Elders. The Evangelist St Mark.

Near the corner there are four windows which depict “the Qualities of the Capable Wife” Proverbs 31. Verses 10 to 31.

The west end

There are two windows on either side of the entrance to the Baptistry showing 8 scenes from the childhood of Christ.  They are :- The Annunciation,  Mary’s visit to Elizabeth,  the Birth of our Lord,  Simeon receiving Jesus in the Temple (note the two birds for payment), the visit of the Magi,  the Flight into Egypt,  Jesus among the doctors of the law, and the carpenters shop in Nazareth (with Jesus wielding the hammer).

In the Baptistry there is a plaque and a window celebrating Canon Frank Gillingham (Rector 1923-1940) who was not only a splendid preacher but also a splendid cricketer. Look at his circular window for depictions of the stumps, balls, bats and the weather vane from Lords.

The Church bells had to be remade after WWII and now they form a carillon of 16 bells which can be played by one person.

The Old Churchyard is not open at the moment.

It contains, amongst the other 5.000 people (dating from 1080 or thereabouts):-

Elizabeth Conhyll,  died 1513

Mistris Isabel Hatclif, 1582

Cornelius a Blackamoor, 1593

Nicholas Annesly,  Sargeant of the Salt to Queen Elizabeth 1st.   1593

Daniel Bachelor lutenist at the Court of Elizabeth Ist, and Groom of the Privy Chamber to Anne of Denmark 1618     

Abraham Shearman, Minister of God to this Parish 1654    

Christopher Boone founder in 1683 of our local Almshouses.

Edmond Halley (of Comet fame) 1742,

Nathanial Bliss (Astronomer) 1764,

John Pond  1836

Melchior Wagner, Hatter probably to the King  1761

Sir Samuel Fludyer, Lord Mayor of London in 1761 Merchant.

The Right Honorable Lord Dacre.   Merchant  1788

Robert Cocking,  Balloonist whose parachute did not open in 1837.