website: Chiswick Parish Church
Open: all day on Sunday; occasionally on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Guided tours on London Open House weekend (20/21September)
History: The tower of St Nicholas Church, which was built in the 15th century, is the oldest structure in Chiswick. The Church as seen today though dates only to the late 19th century. A church is known to have been on this site since 1181 and had been dedicated to St Nicholas by 1548. The church was enlarged, repaired and altered many times over the centuries and in the 18th century was noted for its splendid hammer beam roof, described as one of the finest in England. Between 1882 and 1884 St Nicholasâ€™s was completely rebuilt to a design by ecclesiastical architect John L Pearson. The many burial vaults under the church were concreted over but some of the memorials were preserved, including the fine memorial to Thomas Chaloner. People buried in the vaults are said to include Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II, architect William Kent and Lady Fauconberg and her sister, daughters of Oliver Cromwell. There is a theory too that Cromwell himself is buried in this vault.
The graveyard was Chiswickâ€™s only burial ground until the 1930s. It was closed in 1854 but re-opened in 1871 when the Duke of Devonshire gave the parish more land. Additional land was acquired in 1887 to form Chiswick Old Cemetery.
Well known Chiswick residents buried in the graveyard are William Hogarth, Henry Joy, Charge of the Light Brigade Trumpeter, Frederick Hitch of Rorkeâ€™s Drift fame and Charles Tilston Bright who laid the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic. There are fine tombs to two non-Chiswick residents, painters JM Whistler and Philip de Loutherbourgh.