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Church of St Mary Magdalene

A Grade II* Listed Building in Reigate, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.2367 / 51°14'12"N

Longitude: -0.1972 / 0°11'49"W

OS Eastings: 525952

OS Northings: 150160

OS Grid: TQ259501

Mapcode National: GBR JJ0.JXK

Mapcode Global: VHGS9.J5MR

Entry Name: Church of St Mary Magdalene

Listing Date: 19 October 1951

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1188125

English Heritage Legacy ID: 289284

Location: Reigate and Banstead, Surrey, RH2

County: Surrey

District: Reigate and Banstead

Town: Reigate and Banstead

Electoral Ward/Division: Reigate Central

Built-Up Area: Reigate

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Reigate

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Listing Text

902/13/35 CHART LANE
19-OCT-1951 (East side)


The medieval church is of various periods: the arcades date from c.1200 to the C14, the S chancel chapel is also C14, and the rest is mainly C15 but with a late C13 N aisle W window. A N vestry was added in 1513. There was very extensive restoration in the C19: the first major restoration was in 1845 when Henry Woodyer renewed much of the stonework including the sedilia and piscina in the chancel, fitted new stained glass and restored the mutilated rood-screen. In 1874-7 George Gilbert Scott jun. was responsible for new roofs, repairing the N arcade, rebuilding the S arcade `stone by stone', refacing the tower and providing it with a new top, providing a new E window, a reredos made by Farmer & Brindley, decorations by Burlison & Grylls, new seating, and other repairs.

MATERIALS: Local coursed stone with Bath stone for the facing of the tower. Horsham slates cover the roof on the S side, reconstituted stone slates the N.

PLAN: Nave, aisles, W tower, chancel, N and S chancel chapels slightly shorter than the chancel, N vestries and organ chamber, S porch, kitchen N of the tower.

EXTERIOR: The dominant features are Perpendicular in style, notably the three-light panel-tracery windows in the S aisle, the two-lights ones with depressed heads in the N aisle and the tower with narrow, two-light belfry windows. The tower also has angle buttresses, an embattled parapet and a NW stair-turret which rises above the battlements. The rest of the church has plain eaves and no parapets. There is also no clerestory. The E end offers the most striking elevation with elaborate windows in the style of c.1300 in the E walls of the chancel (five lights) and its two aisles (three lights each). The nave, S aisle, and the two chancel aisles are under their own gables whereas the N aisle has a lean-to roof which forms a continuation of the N slope of the nave but at a shallower angle.

INTERIOR: The arcades form the most important and oldest part of the present fabric. The piers are not aligned and have a different rhythm between N and S. The earliest work is found at the SW end and appears to have been built under the influence of the newly-completed work at the Canterbury Cathedral choir of 1175-80. The piers vary in shape with round, octagonal and quatrefoil forms all in evidence and with a wide variety of foliage decoration which demonstrate the transition from Norman, to work of the C13. The N arcade has double-chamfered pointed arches whereas the S one has moulded arches. The N arcade is slightly later than the S one. The nave seems to have been extended eastwards in the early C14 with the break in the two schemes evident in the foliage of the easternmost S pier where the W half represents the original respond and the E part belongs to the extension. On the N the two easternmost arches are C14. The Perpendicular work, so evident externally, is found in the tower arch, with three orders of shafts and the two-bay chancel arcades with their typical piers of four shafts and four hollows. On the second floor of the vestry of 1513 is the Cranston Library (see History below).

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: A late medieval, but much restored, screen of one-light openings stretches across the entrance to the chancel and its side chapels. The piscina and sedilia are C14 work, reworked in the C19. There is an extensive collection of C17 and C18 monuments. The largest and most impressive is that to Richard Labroke (d 1730) in the N transept, signed by Joseph Rose the Elder, a three-part composition with Justice and Truth flanking the deceased who is in Roman dress; below is a powerful relief of disarticulated skulls and bones. Sir Richard Elyot (d 1608) and his son (also Richard, d 1612) are depicted one above the other in a two-tier monument, the former reclining, the other lying on his back at prayer. This monument has been rearranged. The kneeling figure of Katherine Elyot (d 1623), sister of Richard, has been moved to the arched recess of the sedilia on the S side of the chapel at some stage. Stone reredos with the Apostles under crocketed gables which reflect the style of the medieval sedilia and piscina.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: An attractive timber lych-gate of 1908 with a stone base and a tiled gambrel roof.

HISTORY: The standing fabric shows the church was in existence by c.1200 but it probably had earlier origins. In the C12 it was presented to the Augustinian priory of Southwark. The main phases of building are outlined in Dates of Main Phases above. In 1701 the Cranston Library was founded in the small chamber over the vicar's vestry by the Rev. Andrew Cranston, vicar 1697-1708. It is said in the church guidebook to be the first public library in England and has over 2,400 volumes. The main C19 restorations were undertaken by two leading architects. The first in 1845 was by Henry Woodyer (1815-96). Woodyer, having considerable private means, was a `gentleman-architect' who based himself at Grafham, Surrey. He was pupil of the great church architect William Butterfield and established a strong reputation himself for his church work. The greatest concentration of his work is in Surrey and the adjacent counties. His masterpiece is often considered to be Dorking parish church. GG Scott jun. (1839-97) was the eldest son of Sir George Gilbert Scott. He commenced practice with his father in 1863. By the 1870s was a leading church architect in his own right and was one of the key figures in the development of the Gothic Revival, helping to steer it away from the florid exuberance characteristic of the mid-Victorian years. Mental instability cut short a brilliant career and he produced little architecture after the early 1880s. The restoration work at St Mary Magdalene's is often criticised for its severity, notably so in Ian Nairn's unduly acerbic entry in the Surrey Buildings of England volume. Wholesale renewal of medieval fabric was common in the 1840s when the form of medieval work was considered important rather than preserving the ancient fabric itself. Scott's careful rebuilding of the S arcade is more typical of the later Victorian attitudes to conservation so his refacing the tower with a type of stone from far afield is somewhat surprising.

Mary Lambell, St Mary Magdalene: Reigate Parish Church (nd [c.2000])
John Elliott and John Pritchard, Henry Woodyer, Gentleman Architect, 2002, pp 232-3
Gavin Stamp, An Architect of Promise: George Gilbert Scott Junior (1839-1897), 2002, pp 397-8
Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner (rev. Bridget Cherry), The Buildings of England: Surrey, 1971, pp. 423-6
Antonia Brodie et al., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, vol 2, 2001, pp 559-60, 1060

The church of St Mary Magdalene, Reigate, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Substantial and architecturally important medieval fabric stretching back to c.1200
* A number of surviving medieval fixtures and C16 to C18 monuments of note.
* Restoration work by two leading C19 architects

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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