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Church of St Dunstan, Hillingdon

Description: Church of St Dunstan

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 27 May 1949
English Heritage Building ID: 202944

OS Grid Reference: TQ1016078179
OS Grid Coordinates: 510160, 178179
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4918, -0.4146

Location: M4, Hillingdon, Greater London TW5 9RZ

Locality: Hillingdon
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: TW5 9RZ

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Listing Text

(South side)

Church, Probably C13 with C15 tower, early C18 nave, mid C20 vestry. Restorations of 1895 by J L Pearson and 1935-6 by Martin Travers.

MATERIALS: Flint and rubble, red brick, tile roofs.

PLAN: Separate nave and chancel, both under pitched roofs. West tower. Vestry addition to north-west.

EXTERIOR: Entrance elevation to the south. Nave in red brick with a pitched tile roof and shallow buttresses. Handsome rusticated south entrance with a double panelled door. Surround has false stone quoins whose decorative tripartite keystone supports a moulded cornice and lunette with a gauged round brick arch. Round headed window in the same style to the east and a pair the same to the nave north elevation. Pebble-dash rendered chancel over flint rubble to the east with pitched tile roof. Blocked lancet, probably C13, with stone surround and double-light square headed window to east. Stepped brick buttresses. East elevation has a triple light C19 traceried window. Chancel north elevation has a blocked door with red brick surround and a flat roofed triple-light roof dormer. 1950s flat-roofed and rendered vestry, which is not of architectural interest, adjoins the tower north elevation. Handsome west tower of four storeys. Three lower storeys are C15 in flint and rubble with stepped diagonal buttresses and ashlar quoins. Belfry level is in red brick and appears contemporary with the nave i.e. 1710. Polygonal stair turret, lit by loopholes, at south-east corner. Clock to north elevation.

INTERIOR: Church internally rendered and painted white. Nave roof is panelled and ribbed with arched braces and tie beams supported on stone corbels. Gilded chancel arch with painted cherub supporters and cartouches part of the C20 restoration by Martin Travers. Flagged floors, some are grave slabs, and Jacobean black and white marble to sanctuary. Medieval wall painting to chancel east wall probably the upper portion of originally larger design. Of two or possibly three phases (early C14 and C15) with stencilled letters including the repetitive use of the capital `M' surmounted by a crown and a possible sunburst motif. Mid C20 gallery, also by Travers, providing ringing chamber. Stone spiral staircase to the tower. Vestry not of special interest.

FIXTURES & FITTINGS: Font of 1710, a gift from the Berkeley family, of white marble on a black baluster. Peel of six bells the oldest of which is 1380 cast by William Burford of Aldgate and reputedly the oldest in the Diocese. Clock by Gillet & Co, 1886. Baldochino, altar frontal and reredos all 1930s by Travers in wood simulating draped tapestry. Altar rails, statue and plinth of Our Lady (a war memorial) and gallery also by Travers. Sanctuary Lamp by Omar Ramsden (1873-1939) a renowned silversmith of the Arts & Crafts movement. Impressive collection of stained glass including the east window by Kempe, 1895. Curiosities include very early depictions of a bi-plane and tank in a north window as part of a First World War memorial.

MONUMENTS: Remarkable collection of monuments which dominate the interior. These are listed in some detail in Cherry & Pevsner (1991, 312) but include: vast monument in the chancel to Sir Roger Aston and wife of 1611-13. A tripartite monument in a Tudor style with kneeling figures including the children of the deceased. One of the few documented works by the Master Mason to King James I, William Cure II. Moved to the north and restored in the 1930s. Accomplished tomb of Elizabeth Berkeley (died 1635) by Nicholas Stone. Unusual, and beautifully carved in low relief, white marble effigy of the deceased wrapped in a shroud. Also various other tablets and monuments, many of C17 date. Further large early C18 monuments in the nave: On the N wall, William Smythe (died 1720) who was of the Berkeley family. Monument with a portrait medallion flanked by cherubs, pilasters and with a shell top; S wall two monuments to Pelsant Reeve and his wife (died 1727 and 1729 respectively)

HISTORY: It is likely that a church of early origins existed on the same site as the present building. There are suggestions that there may have been a seventh or eighth century Saxon church here and the Domesday Book of 1086 mentions a priest who served at the church in Cranford prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066. A priest was presented to the living in 1363 by Bishop Roger of Lichfield. A blocked lancet in the chancel is probably C13 suggesting that the chancel may also be of this date. The chancel wall painting has features of both early C14 and C15 date. The majority of the tower excluding the belfry level is of C15 date. There is a small, possibly Tudor, blocked brick north doorway. A fire in the nave led to its rebuilding in brick in 1710 by Elizabeth Dowager Countess of Berkeley.
The church has been subject to two restorations: the first in 1895 by J L Pearson; the second of 1935-6 by Martin Travers a craftsmen of some repute who was employed by the then Rector, Maurice Child to restore the interior. Pearson added the east window (by Kempe of 1896) but much of his interior scheme was subsequently removed by Travers who added many of the fixtures and fittings including the gallery and also remodelled the chancel arch adding the cherubs and cartouches. This later restoration uncovered the chancel wall painting. Travers is understood to have considered the restoration of Cranford as his best work.
The vestry to the north-west is a 1950s addition, probably replacing a late C19 one. All but one of the pews were removed in the late C20. The chancel ceiling was restored in 2006 and was found to be of medieval date. An attractive lych gate in timber on a brick plinth with a hipped tile roof stands to the south of the church and is probably contemporary with the mid C20 restoration.

The church is located in the former Cranford Park Estate. This was gifted by Henry VIII after the Dissolution to his friend Henry, Lord Windsor. In 1604 the estate was purchased by Sir Roger Aston, minister of James I, but on his death without male heirs, was purchased by the Berkeley family, in 1618, specifically by Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley. The adjacent mansion was demolished in 1939 although the early C18 stables survive to the west of the church.

Cherry, B & Pevsner, N, 1991, The Buildings of England: London 3, North-West, p311-2
A Brief History of St Dunstan, Cranford Park, undated church guide. church website

While the exterior of St Dunstan's is relatively modest in design and scale, the interior is of particular interest containing a medieval wall painting of early C14 and C15 date, a variety of quality fixtures and fittings, and an extraordinary collection of monuments from the early C17 onwards. Some of these, such as the two early C17 monuments in the chancel to Sir Roger Aston and Elizabeth Berkeley, are of the very highest quality.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.