The Surroundings of St Mary's Church

The Garden Hall

In 1956, the then vicar, Revd Leslie Wright was responsible for buying St Mary's field. It cost the church a mere £250 but came with strict covenants to ensure it is kept as an open space. Today's churchgoers are tremendously grateful for this foresight as it makes the church so visible from a distance and not hidden amongst buildings. Since 1969, the field has been a hugely successful fund raiser for the church and other charities during Wimbledon Tennis fortnight as a car park and for many years of the Championships was also the site of a picnic stall. Special charity car boot sales are held during the summer and car parking facilities are available to the users of the church and halls on a regular basis. On a summers day, it is also very pleasant simply to sit on the bench which was placed in the centre in memory of the son of Sir John and Lady Dacie.

The need for a church hall was also recognized at this time. An old hall that St Mary's owned half a mile away was sold and money raised by the congregation, but it was Revd Hugh Marshall who obtained planning permission and set the process in motion just after he arrived in 1974. Fellowship House has lived up to its name having been used as a study centre of Christian art and music, innumerable meetings, children's and adult parties and since 2004, a children's nursery.

In the 1990s it became evident that further expansion was necessary in order to accommodate the increasing number of children in Sunday School. Long discussions ensued as to whether Fellowship House could be extended or whether to build another hall. There were a number of difficulties involved in extending the existing building and eventually with the help of a substantial legacy and tremendous financial support from the congregation, it was decided to build the Garden Hall. It was designed by the architect Terry Pawson and won a Civic Trust Award in 2004. It was officially opened in May 2003 by HRH Princess Alexandra and has since been extremely successful. With a significantly large square shape, it accommodates everything from ballet classes and wedding receptions to church and community functions. The two halls together plus a vibrant congregation make St Mary's Church a thriving, busy centre of activity every day of the week.