This 1968 octagonal church with beautiful interior; the dome is supported on seven spans of dalles de verre glazing that create a magnificent sense of light filled space.
From the 10th century until 1414 Lewisham and Greenwich were owned by the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter’s, Ghent in Flanders. The whole area was administered from a Priory in Lewisham near St Mary’s. The Abbey also would have had the right to appoint vicars during this time.
There are few written records of the church during the early medieval period. However, the Assize records show that, in 1255, Margery the daughter of Roger David who, with her accomplice Geoffrey Le Rideled had murdered Agnes La Riche, escaped from prison in Lewisham and took refuge in St Mary’s where she confessed and 'abjured the realm'. Criminals could take refuge in a church for 40 days. If they then confessed to a royal ofﬁcial they could agree on oath to go to a named port wearing sackcloth and catch the ﬁrst ship out of the country.
A new building with tower was completed in 1502. Then in the 1770s the church was rebuilt. The 19th century was a period of great expansion for Lewisham: its population leapt from 4,007 in 1801 to 53,065 in 1881. The attendance at St. Mary’s on Sundays averaged 1,500. The number of children at Sunday School was 250.
The Georgian building was deemed inadequate and was re-modelled in 1881 creating the present interior apart from the re-ordering of the chancel in 1995. A detailed online audio and visual guide by Historian Julian Watson of St. Mary’s History and its many features for you to discover and see can be found here.