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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 DRO/113
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1569-1991
Level of description: Collection
View subfonds/series records
Extent: 2.95 linear metres (80 files).
Name of creator(s): Parish of St Mary, Willesden | Church of England


Administrative/Biographical history:

Saint Mary, Willesden was the parish church for the whole of Willesden until 1867 when the rapid growth of population in the area led to the creation of new parishes. In 1811 the population was 751, by 1901 this had expanded to 100,000. The parish of Willesden has existed for over 1000 years. In 937 King Athelstan defeated the Danes at the battle of Brunanburh, and as a thank offering gave the Royal Manors of Willesden-cum-Neasden to the Dean and Chapter of Saint Paul's Cathedral (subsequently many of the vicars of Willesden have also been Canons of Saint Paul's). A church was built, possibly replacing an earlier wooden one. The earliest part of the church as it stands today dates from the thirteenth century with fifteenth and sixteenth century additions. The two Victorian restorations added a north aisle and a new south porch. Two notable fittings are the Purbeck marble font, dating from 1150 and the fourteenth century inner door to the south porch. By the sixteenth century the parish was a focus for pilgrims attracted by the shrine containing the statue of Our Lady of Willesden, popularly known as the Black Virgin of Willesden, which was supposed to possess miraculous powers. At the time of the Reformation it was seen as idolatrous and was taken to Chelsea and burned in 1538. A modern Black Virgin by C. Stern was installed in the church in 1972. During the period of the Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, puritanical influence was strong. The parish was dominated by the Parliamentarian Sir William Roberts, a friend of Oliver Cromwell and Lord of the Manor of Neasden. He conducted marriages at his house and took charge of the registers during the Interregnum.

This list also includes records of Willesden General Hospital (DRO/113/WGH).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the parish of Saint Mary, Willesden, including registers of baptisms, marriages, burials, banns of marriages, church services and preachers; Parochial Church Council minutes; financial accounts; papers relating to the maintenance of church buildings; and photographs of the church. Also registers of baptisms for Willesden General Hospital.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

DRO/113/001- : Parish Records; DRO/113/WGH: Willesden General Hospital.

Conditions governing access:

Some files are only available on microfilm. Please check access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright for these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in August 1996.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For the Saint Raphael's Mission Church see DRO/113/RAP, and for the Saint Edward's Mission see DRO/113/SEM. A considerable amount of non-register material has been deposited at Brent History Library, Cricklewood Library, Olive Road, London NW2 6UY. A transcript of the parish registers for the years 1569-1865 is also available at Brent Library. The parish has retained the current registers and a series of bound magazines.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
March to April 2010.

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