Pinner Parish Church is located in the heart of the village at the top of the High Street, where it has a commanding view over the entire Parish. The church has a rich and interesting history of which only a small part is documented here. It is known that an earlier church was in existence in Pinner as it is mentioned by Archbishop Edmund Rich 1234-1240 in the Deed of Endowment of the vicarage of Harrow.
The present Church of St John the Baptist was consecrated in 1321 by Bishop Petrus of Corbaria. When trying to find traces of the earlier church it will be noticed that the lower part of north chancel wall is built predominately of iron stone and is older than the rest of the church. It has an irregular flint plinth and there are no buttresses. The transepts belong to the 13th Century and have iron stone quoins and double lancet windows under internal hoods. The south transept has a plinth of Kentish Ragstone.
The Nave was built in the 14th Century, possibly by Robert Winchelsea who was the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord of the Manor. It is known that the Archbishop had his own building staff, it is recorded in 1428 the staff consisted of 20 stone cutters, six layers, two apprentices and four labourers, plus some carpenters and tiler’s. The walls are built chiefly of flint, and the plinths having Kentish Ragstone weatherings. The nave arcades are built with Totternhoe Stone or Clunch. There are no keystones to the arches. The exterior of the nave windows were rebuilt in Bath Stone about 1880.
The tower is 15th Century, it has a newel turret and diagonal buttresses with a moulded plinth. The height of the tower is 59 feet, 2 inches thus conforming to the old standard that the height of the tower should be half the length of the church. The length of the church being 120 feet, 6 inches from mullion east, to mullion of west windows. The newel turret on the N.E. corner rises another six feet. The tower cross, erected in 1637 and replaced in 1958, is constructed of 14" x 14" timber encased in copper. It is about thirty feet high.
The Cross is symbolic of St John the Baptist to whom the church is dedicated. It is also tradition that the floor is below ground level signifying the Lord stepping down into the river Jordan for Baptism. Another tradition is that the position of medieval churches was fixed at 6 am on the Saints’s Day summer time on the 24 June (St John the Baptist Day) you will see the sun is in exact alignment with the church.
Over the centuries the church has undergone a number of repairs and alterations, the church warden’s accounts show items for timber to repair the roof and ceiling in 1624. In 1630 expenses were recorded for raising the church roof and leads of the porch. In 1634 and 1638 John Walter was paid £4, 1s to whitewash the ceiling and Chancel. The Vestry room was repaired in 1810 plus a chimney and window were made. 1811 the rib of the Chancel arch fell and also in the same year the church and Chancel were completely repaired at a cost of £618 12s. 6d.
the outside door of the restored 15th century south porch is a niche
which was discovered only in 1880. Before the Reformation it may have
contained a statue of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. The
figure of St John the Baptist which you now see was placed there in
In 1879-80 the church was further restored at the sole cost to Mr W. A. Tooke of Pinner Hill, as at this time the church was in a poor state of repair, all the roof’s required repairing and the insides were coated with whitewash, The battlements of the tower were built in brick and covered with cement, doors and windows required replacing and the organ gallery obscured the view of the tower arch and west window.
The window to the east of the south door is in memory of Edward Hogg, Churchwarden 1887-1900 was designed by Clement Skilbeck. The two churches shown are of Pinner & Geddington his father being rector at the latter.
The window to the left of the 16th Century Font depicts St Anselm and St George, the patrons of two of the daughter churches, this is in memory of John Parkhouse who was church warden from 1900-1909. The one on the right portrays St Agnes and Queen Bertha and is in memory of Agnes Bertha Marshall 1855-1905 of the Towers, Eastcote Road, who was the founder of Marshall’s School of cookery, and lived locally.
The five-light east window which is in the perpendicular style, dates from the 15th century but the glass is Victorian and commemorates the incumbency of Thomas Burrow, vicar 1832 who died in 1861. The window depicts Matthew; Mark; Good Shepherd; Luke; John.
The church bells were known as the “Pinner old Five” and together with the Sanctus bell were recast in 1771 and increased to eight. Today the bells can be heard all over Pinner and provide a lovely sound, when rung.
The Lych Gate to St John's Church was erected in memory of all who served in the Great War, it was designed by J Daymond and Son of Vauxhall Bridge Road, London. Much of the retaining wall between the gate and the Lady Chapel was rebuilt by the church staff during the second war owing to it's dangerous condition in the blackout.
Burials, the cost of a burial in the nave or porch in 1622 cost six shillings and eight pence and in the chancel ten shillings, that price was doubled for a stranger or non parishioner. The fee for a burial in the churchyard was one shilling. The fee did not include the cost of digging the grave. In 1678 an Act of Parliament was passed that the dead were to be wrapped in wool as encouragement to wool manufactures and to prevent the importing of linen.
The churchyard contains memorials to some centenarians, William Skenelsby died 1775 aged 118, Ann Winfield of Ruislip died 1851 aged 100, Betty Evans died 1853 aged 102, and Charles James died 1923 aged 102. An interesting monument is that of Agnes Loudon erected in 1809-10 by her son John Claudius Loudon. The monument stands about 20ft tall with a fictitious stone coffin above ground. The vault is through the semicircular iron gate under the arch.
Source's of information: Edwin M Ware 'Pinner in the Vale', Walter Druett 'Pinner through the Ages', Patricia Clarke 'A History of Pinner
John W Ferry 'Panorama of Pinner Village', 'Victoria History for the County of Middlesex', London Metropolitan Archives.