My first overseas trip as a child was to England, Scotland, France and Holland. It was the first time I went on a airplane and the first time I was nearly arrested. We were in The Louvre in Paris and this painting fascinated me, it looked like an open book had been inserted in the painting. Before my parents could react I was touching the paining. Mayhem ensued with many gallery guards running towards me in panic and swearing, I am sure in French. My dad was yelling ‘how many times have I told you not to touch anything, ever! My mother was trying to hide her amusement.
This trip was also the first time I got lost, in Hamleys! How genius to get lost in a toy store! My parents had to be called over the announcement system and my father was not pleased! The thing I remember most from that trip was my mother’s love of churches. We did the big churches, St Pauls and Westminster in London, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris along with small churches and everything in between. In fact we could not go into any town without my mother dragging us into a church where my brother and I would aimlessly wonder around hoping that it was a small church. My dad would sit in a pew and pray quietly – probably for this to be over!!
How ironic is it that I now love going into churches and graveyards.
When the Reverend Francis Leith Boyd was appointed Vicar of St Mary’s in 1884, he decided to respond to the growth of Teddington in an ambitious way, by replacing St Mary’s with a large, imposing Gothic-style church and was dedicated in 1889 whilst in the same year the church of St Mary was closed. Fortunately, although the old building deteriorated, it was not demolished because of its iconic status as one of Teddington’s oldest surviving buildings. St Mary’s was reopened for weekly services in 1936 as ironically, it was now St Alban’s which was under threat.
The high cost of its upkeep was increasingly beyond the means of its declining congregation. The original design for the church was never completed and it was deconsecrated in 1977. It is a beautiful building.
The building does not take itself too seriously. It has a spider on an outside wall!