Another in the series on the historic churches of the out-parishes of London …
By the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were over a hundred parish churches and other places of Christian worship within and immediately without the walls of the City. There were a further twelve in the out-parishes of Middlesex (north of the river) and Surrey (south of the river).
The old church of St Mary, Newington was originally built in the area later to become known as Newington Butts probably in the Saxon period (almost certainly being that in the Manor of Walworth referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086). According to John Aubrey’s History of Surrey (published in 1719), it was subsequently rebuilt, in the “modern Gothic” style, in the post-Medieval period, around 1570; extended, by Sir Hugh Brawne, in 1600; and beautified in 1704. Part of the wall of the church then collapsed during a service in 1714, and a later structural survey showed much of what remained standing to be unsound, such that it had to be substantially rebuilt again in 1720-21, and yet again in 1793. It eventually had to be demolished in 1876. Only the churchyard still survives at the original site. The famous playwright and poet Thomas Middleton, who died in 1627, is buried here.
After the old church was demolished in 1876, a new one was built a few hundred yards to the south, on Kennington Park Road, only to be substantially destroyed in an air raid on the last night of the Blitz of the Second World War, 10th/11th May, 1941, with essentially only the tower still standing.
The present church was built adjacent to the tower after the war.