St Mary Abbots
|St Mary Abbots|
St Mary Abbots in 2007
|Location||Kensington, London, England|
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Parish church|
|Architect(s)||Sir George Gilbert Scott|
|Architectural style||Neo Gothic|
|Length||179 feet (55m)|
|Width||109 feet (34m)|
|Spire height||278 feet |
St Mary Abbots is an historic church located on Kensington High Street, London at a prominent intersection with Kensington Church Street. The present church was built in 1872 by the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott in neo-Gothic Early English style. It was the latest in a succession of churches which have stood on the site since around 1100. The church has the tallest spire in London.
Aubrey de Vere was a Norman knight given the manor of Kensington after the Norman conquest. Around 1100, his son Godfrey, was taken seriously ill but was cured by Faritius, the Abbot of the great Benedictine Abbey of St Mary at Abingdon.
In gratitude Godfrey bequeathed the church in Kensington, with 270 acres (1.1 km2), to the abbey. In 1262 the abbey established a parish in Kensington, and dedicated it to St Mary. It was probably given the epithet of ‘Abbots’ because of its link to the abbey rather than the diocese of the Bishop of London. This led to a dispute with the bishop and an action followed in the consistory court of the diocese. This resulted in the patronage of the church passing to the bishop in perpetuity but rights over the surrounding land remaining with the abbey. The line of vicars can be traced directly back to this foundation in 1262.
In 1370 the Norman church was rebuilt.
When William III established his court at Kensington Palace there followed a growth in the local population which made the medieval church too small and it was demolished at the end of the 17th century to be replaced by a late Renaissance style church. This in turn proved too small as the area urbanised in the 19th century.
Around 1860 the vicar, Archdeacon Sinclair, began a campaign to build a new church which he wanted to be really striking. The architect George Gilbert Scott was engaged and he recommended the demolition of the existing church to take advantage of the outstanding site at the road junction. The design was almost certainly influenced by Scott's earlier work on Dunblane Cathedral on which the west front's tall window and carved tympanum, is loosely based. The 278 ft (85 m) high spire is clearly influenced by that of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.
The present church contains many fittings from the earlier churches, especially funeral monuments from the mid-17th century onwards.
The tower holds a ring of ten bells hung for change ringing. Five of these bells, the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth of the current ring date from 1772 and were cast by Thomas Janaway. The other five, the treble, second, third, seventh and tenor were cast in 1879 by John Warner & Sons.
Notable parishioners 
- Sir Isaac Newton (commemorated in a window in the north transept),
- Joseph Addison,
- William Wilberforce,
- George Canning,
- William Thackeray,
- Lord Macaulay,
- Beatrix Potter,
- Diana, Princess of Wales - In 1997 it became a focus for mourners.
- Michael Gove
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - Churches
- Lloyd, Dr Russell (January 2004). "The Early Churches of Kensington". St Mary Abbots parish. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- "Kensington—S Mary Abbots". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- Allchin, A. M. (1960). St. Mary Abbots, Kensington: a brief history and guide. Favil Press.
- The church's web site Accessed November 2009