It is thought that this church is on a site that has offered worship for more than 1700 years. Fragments of Roman material can still be seen here and there in the fabric of the current building. The monuments and reuse of stone chart the history of the church’s development since Fulcherius in the late 12th century. The list of incumbents spans eight centuries down to the present day, Fr James Elston becoming Team Vicar in 2012.
Until 150 years ago, people were still being buried in the churchyard. Notable burials over time include Mary Wollstonecraft, author of The Vindication of the Rights of Women and Sir John Soane. Soane built his impressive family mausoleum in the churchyard, the design of which went on to inspire Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s famous red telephone box. The churchyard was also the site of the first romantic tryst between Mary Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The Hardy Tree
When the Victorians built a railway through the churchyard many bodies had to be exhumed and moved. The original tombstones were re-erected around the base of a nearby tree at the direction of author Thomas Hardy, who was then a surveyor.