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A grave stone in the churchyard of St Mary's in Hanwell

The stories behind the stones: The sequel

Last year, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at St Mary’s Church unveiled a rich tapestry of history. This May, an open weekend offers you a chance to find out even more.

St Mary’s Hanwell, the ‘church by the Bunny Park’, is known to many as they walk past it on their way to the park. But its churchyard is a peaceful and tranquil spot that hides some strange secrets.

On a sunny weekend in July 2022, more than 350 visitors explored the churchyard, and the church, climbed down into the crypt and learned about some of the earlier inhabitants of the parish of Hanwell. “Well, I never knew that!” was a phrase frequently heard as visitors joined in the tours and opened up the QR codes attached to a number of the grave stones.

Held to share the information discovered during the churchyard survey carried out during the 2020 lockdown, the open weekend was a great success. And there is even more…

There are still many stories to be told – about the impact of the Hanwell Asylum, about the criminal activities that took place within the parish and about the lives of children. From Domesday Book to commuter suburb, Hanwell has much to reveal.

One of the exciting discoveries made during the research into the lives of those buried in the churchyard was the discovery of a document at the Bodleian Library in Oxford telling us of the gift made by a farmer, one William Hobbayne, which established the charity that still bears his name and which is still supporting the people of present-day Hanwell.

The second open weekend is going to take place in May. Go along on 13 and 14 May between 2-4pm to learn more about life in the past in this fascinating parish and to find out what is happening in the churchyard eco-project.

Location: Church Road Hanwell W7

Image by BPhoto.uk

Read more about the history of St Mary’s

Last year, Ruth Mercer, Chris and Helen Cosstick from Hanwell St Mary’s Graveyard Survey Group explained the fascinating results of the survey of the church, its churchyard and its crypt.

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