St Mary Abbots – Our History

Timeline of Key Events

  • 700

    The Saxon sons of Cynesinge found a settlement or ‘tun’ near the land where St Mary Abbots now stands. The name ‘Cynesingetun’ later develops into Kensington.

  • 1066

    After the Norman Conquest, the manor of Chenesiton is given to Aubrey de Vere. The Domesday Book records that a priest held 15 acres of land in Kensington.

  • 1262

    The first church and parish in Kensington is founded by the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary at Abingdon in 1262 AD and is dedicated to St Mary. The current vicar of St Mary Abbots Church, the Rev'd Gillean Craig, is the latest in a long line that can be traced directly back to this foundation in 1262.

  • 1370

    This original Norman church is rebuilt in 1370, after William III relocates the Royal Court to Kensington Palace. The resulting expansion of the parish renders the medieval church too small and it is eventually replaced by a larger building at the end of the 17th century.

  • 1707

    St Mary Abbots Primary School is founded in 1707 as the Charity School. The original school buildings are designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1711, but are eventually demolished to make way for a town hall in the late 19th century. The present buildings date from 1875 and are notable for the painted stone statues of a boy and girl by Thomas Eustace (c. 1715), now situated on the north face of the school

  • 1860

    By 1860, as London continues to expand in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, Archdeacon William Sinclair launches a campaign to build a larger, grander church to accommodate its thriving parish.

  • 1868

    In 1868, the Vicar of Kensington, Archdeacon Sinclair, commissions Sir George Gilbert Scott, probably the most famous and sought after architect of his day, to produce a sketch design of the new parish church of Kensington. His first estimate of the cost was for £35,000, though the final figure was closer to £50,000.

  • 1872

    The main building of the church is finished in early 1872 and consecrated on 14th May of that year. The spire and tower are not completed for another seven-and-a-half years, a year after Scott’s death. They cost a further £24,000. Much of the internal finishing and the addition of the cloisteris carried out by his second son, John Oldrid Scott.

  • 1941

    The church is heavily damaged by the German blitz in the Second World War. The building is patched up to the best degree possible in the difficult post-War years, leaving the current structure in need of extensive repair and refurbishment.

  • Today

    Our community has been the beating heart of St Mary Abbots throughout our long history. Over the years, many of the UK’s most prominent leaders, thinkers and artists have been parishioners at St Mary Abbots Church, including Sir Isaac Newton, Beatrix Potter, William Thackeray and, more recently, Diana, Princess of Wales. With this Appeal, we want to ensure that St Mary Abbots continues to welcome, comfort and inspire the people of our parish for generations to come.