ST MARYíS CHURCH,
Church Road, Beddington, Surrey
Beddington church is first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. It is possible that the church was then newly founded by either Azor the Saxon lord who owned Beddington before 1066, or Robert de Watteville who gained the manor after the Norman conquest. However, the church may be older. The bishop of Winchester owned a large estate at Beddington in the tenth century and Bishop Ethelwold (later a saint) died there in 984. It seems likely that the Bishop had a church here and it may well have been on the site of the present church. There is a remote possibility that the history of Beddington Church goes back much further. Two expensive Roman coffins have been found on the southern edge of the churchyard and this may mean that the site was regarded as sacred or a burial ground prior to the foundation of the church.
The earliest surviving fragments of the existing church are a few pieces of Norman stonework which were found when the church was restored in the nineteenth century and are now on the window sill in the north aisle. The next oldest part of building is the font, which dates from the late twelfth or early thirteenth century.
The next oldest fragment is the window at the east end of the inner north aisle which is in decorated Gothic style and probably dates to the first half of the fourteenth century.
in the second half of the fourteenth century a wealthy courtier called Nicholas Carew built up a large estate centred on Beddington, and created a grand fortified manor house next to the church. When he died in 1390 he left money for the completion of the church tower and his son, another Nicholas, almost certainly gave money to the church. It is probably no coincidence that much of the existing building including the tower, the south aisle and the Carew chapel dates from around this time. The second Nicholas Carew died in 1432 and is buried in the chancel together with his wife Isabel beneath a magnificent brass.
The Carew Chapel on the south side of the chancel contains the tomb of Sir Richard Carew d.1520, who was probably responsible for the roof of the great hall in Carew Manor. His grandson Sir Francis, the great Elizabethan gardener, has a large alabaster tomb in the corner.
The chapel floor has an entrance to the Carew family vault which is now sealed. Some people believe that Sir Walter Raleigh was buried in this after he had been executed in 1618. He was related to the Carews by marriage and his wife certainly wrote to her brother Nicholas Throckmorton Carew asking for permission to bury his body at Beddington. However, there is no entry for him in the Beddington Parish register, and it is more likely that he is buried in St Margaretís church, next to Westminster Abbey.
The wooden cupboard in the outer north aisle contains a Roman lead coffin which was found in Church Road, just outside the churchyard, about 1670.