Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Bromley (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 43207 61650



II* The tower is C13 and there is a late C12 or early C13 lancet in the S wall of the nave. It was almost wholly refenestrated in the C15 and the tower buttresses and spire are probably also C15.

MATERIALS: Flint with stone dressings, timber S porch. Tiled roofs with shingled spire.

PLAN: Nave and chancel under one roof, S porch, W tower, N transeptal chapel/vestry and small N porch to chancel. The W end of the nave tapers diagonally inwards to the tower.

EXTERIOR W tower is C13 and has a shingled spire. It has a lancet W window and small pointed windows towards the top. Diagonal buttresses added in the later middle ages. The nave has a single very narrow, late C12 or early C13 lancet in the S wall, but the windows are otherwise Perpendicular. Part of a straight joint survives under the window to the E of the lancet, but it is unclear what it relates to. The division between nave and chancel is undistinguished, but the easternmost bay on the S side projects slightly. Chancel E window mid C20 following bomb damage in WWII. The C19 N vestry has a chimney in its gable end, and there is a blocked N door of the C15 or C16. The S porch is of timber and has glazed windows. Early English style S door with stiff leaf capitals.

INTERIOR Crown post roof to nave and chancel, the bay over the sanctuary boarded and painted. Blocked N door with 4-centred head. The tower arch has a continuous outer order and a chamfered inner order on polygonal responds with polygonal moulded capitals. It is now closed by a C20 glazed timber screen.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES Plain polygonal font, plain roll moulded piscina and aumbry in chancel. Some late medieval glass reset in the nave, and some C19 and 20 glass: the crucifixion in the E window is Eric Hone, 1950. Very good geometric patterned tiles in sanctuary. Ledger slabs in the rest of the floor. The floor has been raised and other ledger slabs are said to survive at a lower level.

Small brasses to a civilian and his wife c.1400. Another to Thomas Petle, c.1420, and a large brass to Jacob Verzelini, 1522 -1606, a Venetian glass maker who worked in London from 1571, and his wife. The indent for the Verzelini brass remains on the floor, but the brasses themselves have been reset in a new wall slab at the W end of the nave.

HISTORY Downe church is not in the Domesday book, and was a chapelry of Hayes to the north. It was a small and relatively poor parish, which is reflected in the simplicity of the architecture. In the C19 Charles Darwin lived at nearby Downe House, and members of his family (including his wife, brother and some of his children) are buried in the churchyard. Restored in 1879 and early C20 with work to designs by Joseph Clarke in 1871-3; over-restored by by Daniel Bell in 1879; and a new choir vestry in 1903-4 by George St Pierre Harvey.

SOURCES Lambeth Palace Library Incorporated Church Building Society papers, refs. 07355, 10476 Pevsner, N and Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (1983), 184-5 Anon., `A Guide to St. Mary the Virgin Downe' (n.d)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The church of St Mary, Downe, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Medieval church of the C13-15, restored in the C19; possessing a distinctive broached spire. * The Verzelini brass is an unusual testament to Anglo-Italian links in Elizabeth I's reign.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 03 Apr 2005
Reference: IOE01/13817/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Miss Patricia Philpott. Source Historic England Archive
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