A beautiful Victorian church with a warm welcome.
Cuddington is believed to mean ‘Cuda’s farm’. Cuda was perhaps an Anglo-Saxon who founded a settlement in today’s Nonsuch Park. The first church was built of wood, before the Norman Conquest. It was replaced with a stone church around 1100, rebuilt around 1250; this medieval church stood until 1538.
In 1538 Henry VIII demolished Cuddington church and village to make way for Nonsuch Palace, and for 300 years the parish had no church. When the palace fell into decline, its former Great Park, known as Worcester Park after the 4th Earl of Worcester (appointed Keeper in 1606), was divided into five farms.
In 1859 the railway brought Worcester Park within half an hour of London. Large villas were built in The Avenue, and the new residents wanted a church. The present site was selected, about two miles from the medieval church, and a temporary Iron Church was opened in 1867, just to the east of the present building.
In 1894 work began on the permanent church, designed by local architect John Alick Thomas of Whitfield and Thomas. The church was designed with a five bay nave, but in the 1890s there was no need for a nave of this size, so only three bays were built, with a temporary west wall and small porch. Most of the windows in this section contain stained glass dating from the 1890s - 1910s, some by Clayton and Bell, and A L Moore. St Mary’s was opened in November 1895, and in 1896 was declared the parish church in substitution for the medieval church.
For another 40 years the district remained mainly farmland, largely owned by the Stone family and known as the Stoneleigh estate. In the 1930s most of Worcester Park and Stoneleigh was developed. Parts of Cuddington parish were transferred to the new parishes of Stoneleigh and Ruxley Lane, but the church was still crowded, so the final two bays were added on the west end in 1959. In this part of the church there are several stained glass windows by Lawrence Lee, whose work can also be seen in Coventry Cathedral.
The latest major change came in 1995, when a complex of meeting rooms was added. All three phases of the church are built in brick and knapped flint.