Around the Outside

As with many medieval churches, entry to the churchyard is by a lych gate, the present one being a memorial to those who served in the First World War.

The most prominent feature of the churchyard is the Loudon Memorial erected in 1809 by John Loudon, the horticultural writer who greatly influenced London’s great squares and who created the definitive Victorian villa of suburban London. It was erected to make the grave of his father, William, who for a time, held the lease of Wood Hall Farm, Pinner (where he lived with his wife Agnes) and the lease of another at Kenton Lane, on the other side of Harrow. 


Loundon Memorial  



It takes the form of a tall mass of masonry, shaped like an inverted ‘V’ with an arch pierced at the base, filled with ornamental ironwork. From the vertical sides of the masonry project the ends of what appears to be a stone coffin. Time has obliterated the Latin inscription at the end of the coffin-shaped stone, but a full translation of it was given in Walter Druett’s book ‘Pinner through the Ages’:

“Sacred to the memory of William Loudon of the original stock of the Loudon family, of the parish and county of Midcalder. He died 29 December AD 1809. This monument, set up by John Claudius Loudon, the eldest of his sons, stands as a witness of his piety”.

Agnes Loudon died on the 14 October 1841 and is buried beside her husband in the vault below the memorial. The original rendering of the memorial has crumbled badly and was replaced in 1975. Cast into the ornamental ironwork are the words ‘I byde my time’, which may have helped to give rise to a legend which still brings people to see the eccentric monument. Druett recorded that at one time, picture postcards of the memorial were sold with the caption ‘Buried in the air’ and the fantastic account printed on the reverse side: 

“Pinner churchyard contains a monument that is probably unique. It consists of a tall pyramid, through the middle of which protrudes a stone coffin. It was raised to the memory of William and Agnes Loudon whose bodies lie in the coffin. William Loudon and his wife inherited some money under a will which stipulated that they should receive a certain sum so long as their bodies were above the ground. By burying his parents above the ground, a son sought to keep a bequest in the family”.

Two memorials to centenarians survive: Betty Evans – a few yards north of the lych gate at the left and Wm Skenelsby beneath the yew in the Calvary garden. Near the south wall and porch are four carved grave slabs that used to be in the centre of the church floor. They commemorate Thos. Hutchison of Pinner Park, 1656; Thos. Clitherow of Pinner Hill, 1688; Christopher Clitherow of Pinner Hill 1685; Sir Bartholomew Shower of Pinner Hill 1701.

Over the outside door of the heavily 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 (on front cover) was placed there in 1926. 

Calvary Garden   On the north side of the churchyard is a Calvary garden where the ashes of those who have died may be interred. In 1997 this area was redesigned with attractive York stone paths, extended grass areas and a planter for flowers. The boundary wall was rebuilt and some ancient headstones were reset near the church hall. The remodelling of the Calvary garden was a generous gift from Mr Cyril Ellement (and family) in memory of his wife Violet.

Now have a look at the exterior fabric of the church itself. The walls are constructed of knapped flints which probably came from medieval chalk pits at the northern end of Waxwell Lane. Particularly interesting are the ironstone quoins of the transepts, but their origin is not known. The windows of the transepts are slim lancets in the Early English style of the 13th century, and it is possible therefore that the transepts remain from an earlier church, but there is no evidence to confirm this. 

The 15th century tower, which is constructed of flints with stone quoins, is of three well proportioned stages with a moulded plinth and a battlemented parapet. It is 70 feet high and contains a ring of eight bells. The perpendicular three-light window above the west door gives light to the ringing platform and to the nave. The second stage has a square headed window in each of the north, south and east walls; that in the west wall is now covered by the 17th century clock face. The upper stage is the belfry storey and has square headed, two-light windows and louver boards on all facets. The tower has diagonal buttresses which, besides being necessary structurally, are also aesthetically pleasing. The octagonal stair turret at the north east corner projects above the tower parapet and gives access to the ringing chamber and belfry. 

Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Pinner

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. A wooden flag-pole, next to the cross, had been in use for many years and in 1999 had been lowered, inspected and re-painted. Three new flags were purchased for the new Millennium. In 2003 the flag-pole broke in two during high winds and would have crashed through the church roof, but for the attachment of the lightning conductor. A new seven metre fibre-glass flag-pole had to be hoisted from the top of the tower. It should give many years of service, flying flags on special church occasions. The tower is mentioned in some details because it is certainly the best known structure in Pinner, occupying a dominating position at the top of the High Street.

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