Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” (for further details of which, the reader is referred to the “deep topographer” Nick Papadimitriou’s “Scarp”, an extraordinary journey of exploration of the landscape, of the self, and of imagined others) …
Perivale was first recorded in 1508 as Pyryvale, meaning “pear-tree valley”. Previously it had been referred to as Little Greenford, in contra-distinction to Great Greenford or Greenford Magna (see also June 5th posting on Greenford). The church of St Mary was built here in Medieval period (see below).
For much of its history, Perivale was rural, and as recently as 1901, only 60 people lived here! It finally became suburbanised only after the construction of Western Avenue, with its Art Deco factories – referred to by Pevsner as “the most offensive of modern atrocities” – in the 1930s.
Church of St Mary
The tiny church of St Mary, with a capacity of only 70 persons, was originally built in the twelfth century, around 1135 (nave), and extended in the thirteenth, around 1250 (chancel), and again in the sixteenth (tower) (*). After serving its local community for eight hundred years, it became cut off from most of it by the construction of Western Avenue in the 1930s, and finally ceased to function as a church in 1972. It has been administered by a charitable trust since 1976, and currently serves as a venue for classical music concerts, art exhibitions and other events. Otherwise, it is generally open between 2.15pm to 5.00 pm on Sundays.
The exterior of the church is mostly weatherboarded and/or painted, so comparatively little can be seen of its construction, aside from the Gothic-style windows. The interior contains a post-Medieval font, dating to 1490, and a number of post-Medieval memorials, including a brass one, depicting Henry Mylett, his first wife Alice, second wife Joan, and fifteen children, dating to 1500.
(*) The list of rectors dates back to the fourteenth century – the first one being recorded as having died by drowning in the nearby River Brent (a tributary of the Thames)!