History of Leatherhead Parish Church, St.Mary & St.Nicholas
from before the Domesday Book, to 1499

This website is maintained by the Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church
Unless stated the images shown are from sources other than Leatherhead Parish Church

It is thought that the Royal Founder of Leatherhead Church was
Edward the Confessor (1043-1066).

The site of an Anglo Saxon church - an old minster - in the Leatherhead area is believed to have been at the northern end of modern Leatherhead, at Pachenesham Manor.

It was associated legally with the Royal Manor of Ewell.

This has been deduced from the wording of a reference in the Domesday Book (1086) -

' The Church of Leret [Leatherhead] belongs to this manor [Ewell] with 40 acres of land. It is worth 20 shillings. Osborn de Oro holds it.'

The Pachenesham area seemingly declined and modern Leatherhead lies to the south of it.

The other Leatherhead manor in the Domesday Book was Thorncroft, on the southern side of Leatherhead.

Thorncroft Manor also had its own chapel, situated on the high ground across the River Mole and this is the site of our parish church.

Independent evidence suggests that such a church - on the present site - existed by the 1080s.

By the
1090s the right to nominate the Rector (the Advowson) had passed to the King's Steward.

The Royal Steward Eudo Dapifer, gave it to Colchester Abbey. He was the son-in-law of Richard fitz Gilbert, Lord of Thorncroft Manor in 1086.


Manorial Chapels built: South Chapel c.1150 by the Lord of Thorncroft Manor, aligned to the Nave; North Chapel by the de Michelhelm or de Aperdele family, aligned to the Chancel. Later replaced by the present Transepts.


About 1200 Side aisles built and arches cut through the main walls of the Nave.


The Advowson was reclaimed by
King Edward I in 1279 from the Benedictine Abbey of St John the Baptist in Colchester, to which it had been given by Eudo Dapifer.

All Rectors were nominated by the King until 1340, receiving the benefice instead of a salary for their work as Royal Clerks.

The dedication of the church at this time was to St.Mary.

Edward I

Transepts built and original square Chancel extended by about 14 feet to give more room for the ceremony which accompanied mediaeval worship.


Robert Darcy, who in 1309 bought the manor of Pachenesham from Piers Gaveston (the 'favourite' of Edward II), distrained on the Vicar of Leatherhead for failing to find a chaplain to serve St.Margaret's Chapel there.

Edward II, who in 1327 was barbarously murdered when imprisoned in Berkeley Castle

1341 Edward III granted the Advowson to the Priory of St Mary & St Nicholas in Leeds, Kent 'to make good the immense losses which resulted to the Priory when the Castle was besieged by his father'.

The unusual dedication of the Parish Church - that is to St.Nicholas as well as St.Mary - is almost certainly linked to this period.

Leeds Castle, Kent
Copyright 1994-1999 by Martin Junius

1349 It is the time of the Black Death.

Thomas Plomer, appointed Rector in January 1349 dies in March.

Reginald de Goderynton appointed in March 1349 dies in April of that year.

1395 June 17: John, Bishop of Glasgow is commissioned to reconcile the church of Leatherhead 'after pollution by bloodshed'.

Evidently this was a serious case, as it was normally dealt with by Archdeacons rather than a Bishop.

scene from
A Rich Inheritance
by Linda Heath, portraying the
Bishop performing the Rite of
Cleansing of the church

About 1480 Perpendicular style tower and the Porch built

The Tower today

A Will proved on April 14th 1486 gives an impression of the life and times of a former parishioner.

Fyrste I bequeth my soul to allmighty Gode,
to our Lady Seynt Mary and to all Seyntes in heaven, my body to be buried in the church yerde of Lederhede.

Item. To the hye Awter of Lederhede for all forgotyn synnys and tythys iiij yoyn schyp [4 young sheep].

Item. To the rode lyght a busshell of berly. To our Lady Lyghte a busshell of berly. To our moder Churche [Winchester] a busshell of berly. To Sir John Cotthow preste of Lederhede v hold grottes and a quarter of berly to pray for me.

Item. To evere on of my chylder xx s.

Residew of all my goods I gyfe to Ales my wyff and John my son ...