St Nicholas, Church Street, W4, is the earliest of the parish churches of Chiswick. Founded some 1,300 years ago, it was rebuilt in the 1880s, but the tower dates from 1425. The purpose of the Friends of St Nicholas Church is the repair and maintenance of the building and churchyard, and its fixtures, fittings, and contents. We raise funds from Friends’ subscriptions, and from events in the church and elsewhere.
Recently we have funded new lighting and sound systems, CCTV camera protection, and new notice-boards. We also contributed to the funds needed for the recent refurbishment of the pipe organ, and we have paid for the restoration of several tombs in the churchyard, notably that of William Hogarth. We organise events in the church, normally six each year, to which Friends have free entry. Recently we have had talks on topics of local historical interest: on, for example, William Hogarth and Chiswick, Head Gardeners at Chiswick House, the church’s stained-glass windows, William Kent and Chiswick House Grounds, and Johann Zoffany’s royal patronage.
We also present concerts, some given by local musicians and groups, such as the Petros Singers, Chiswick Baroque, the Chiswick Gospel Choir, and local soprano Charmaine Dooley. Others have recently been given by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, ’cellist Jamal Aliyev, and pianist Clare Hammond. Finally, we arrange visits to places of interest, such as recently to the Foundling Museum, Transport for London’s Acton depot, Two Temple Place, Lambeth Palace, and the London Library.
The Church Street Inscription Tablet
The cleaning and restoration of the historically important inscription tablet immured in the Church Street wall at the east end of St Nicholas church is now all but completed. This project is funded jointly by the Friends of St Nicholas Church and the Old Chiswick Protection Society, helped by a generous grant of £2,000 from the Duke of Bedford. The work was carried out by a team from the well-known stone conservation firm of Taylor Pearce Ltd, led by Angus Lawrence who, some 15 years ago, worked on the restoration of the Chaloner Monument in the church. Judging by the style of the original letter-forms (such as ‘YE’, with the letter ‘E’ set within the bowl of the letter ‘Y’), the masons are sure that the inscription was indeed carved in 1623 – as it is dated – and not later, as has been suggested, when the line below the inscription was carved in 1884.
Much weathered, the inscription had become illegible in places. Where possible, the worn lettering has been re-cut, and painted in for increased legibility, using a grey paint to make clear which are the letters that have had to be renewed. In a few places evidence of the original lettering has completely disappeared. This is evident especially in the case of the ampersand that appeared in three places, but ironically has completely weathered away in all three. Here reconstructions, in part based on ampersands on early seventeenth-century inscriptions within the church, have been painted onto the damaged stone.
A number of holes had been drilled into the tablet: at one point the second ‘E’ of the word ‘THEREIN’ has been entirely lost. Elsewhere, at upper right of the inscription, a series of drill holes suggest that some sort of metal fence or barrier may once have been fixed to the tablet; but what the function of this may have been is not clear. It was decided that attempts to plug these holes and paint lettering over the in-fills would not be successful in the longer term, but the meaning of the inscription’s wording is clear from the context.
The inscription records ‘Ye right honorable and trulie pious’ Earl of Bedford’s ‘true zeale and care’ in funding the wall’s construction in 1623, ‘for ye keeping of this churchyard and ye wardrobe of Godd’s Saintes whose bodies lay therein buryed from violateing of swine and other profanation’.
Companies and organisations are invited to sponsor The Friends of St. Nicholas Church’s cultural events where your company can be featured in event programmes. This is a good way to promote your organisation and support a worthy cause. For further information please download this leaflet or contact firstname.lastname@example.org