a short history of St Mary Magdalene, The Holmwood, its history, graves and memorials

The parishes of the Holmwoods

Until the early 19th century there was no church in Holmwood as the area was isolated and sparsely populated. St Mary Magdalene was built in 1838, at the instigation of the wealthy Heath and Larpent families who had moved into the area. The Holmwood was transformed in the later 19th century by wealthy incomers and the church was repeatedly enlarged as farms, farm buildings and squatters' cottages were aggrandized or torn down and rebuilt as substantial family homes. In 1867 the arrival of a railway station increased the volume of building and the population expanded greatly. The church of St John the Evangelist at North Holmwood was established in 1874.

For a small country church St Mary Magdalene, the Holmwood, has a number of striking memorials. Francis Seymour Larpent, the Prince Regent's divorce lawyer, the Victorian admiral Sir Leopold Heath, George Rennie, the engineer of London's bridges, William Money Hardinge 'the Balliol Bugger', and the 1970s porn star Mary Millington are just some of those who have left their mark on the church and churchyard.

A short guide to St Mary Magdalene, illustrated in colour, with archive photographs, is available in pdf. If you would like a copy please email kathy.history@gmail.com.