St Margaret's Church, Barking

London Underground Barking Abbey Barking, London
St Margaret's Church, Barking
St Margaret's Church - geograph.org.uk - 912690.jpg
51°32′7.89″N 0°4′33.6504″E / 51.5355250°N 0.076014000°E / 51.5355250; 0.076014000Coordinates: 51°32′7.89″N 0°4′33.6504″E / 51.5355250°N 0.076014000°E / 51.5355250; 0.076014000
LocationBarking, Barking and Dagenham
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
WebsiteChurch website
DedicationMargaret the Virgin
Events1215: Foundation
1762: Marriage of Captain James Cook to Elizabeth Batts
Functional statusParish church
Heritage designationGrade I listed
ArchdeaconryArchdeaconry of Barking
Episcopal areaBarking Episcopal Area
DioceseDiocese of Chelmsford
ProvinceProvince of Canterbury
RectorThe Rt Revd Trevor Mwamba
NSM(s)The Revd Elwon John
Reader(s)Canon Pat Nappin

St Margaret's Church or the Church of St Margaret of Antioch is a Church of England parish church in Barking, East London. The church is a Grade I listed building built on a site dating back to the 13th century within the grounds of Barking Abbey, the ruins of a former royal monastery that was originally established in the 7th century. The building is dedicated to Margaret the Virgin.



It originated as a chapel for local people within the grounds of Barking Abbey, to the south of the Abbey church. Its oldest part is the chancel, built early in the 13th century during the reign of King John. The building is said to have been made into a parish church in 1300 by Anne de Vere, abbess of the Abbey.[1] Until the 1390s Barking formed a rectory, held by the Abbey and divided into two vicarages known as 'Northstrete' (probably funded by income from the Ilford area) and 'Southstrete' (serving the Abbey church). The area suffered severe flooding in the late 14th century, leading to financial difficulties and a merger of the two vicarages from 1398 onwards.[2] A chaplain from the Abbey led worship.[3] The present bell tower was added late in the 15th century.


It remained a parish church when the Abbey was dissolved and the rectory and advowson devolved to the Crown, who initially leased it to the widow Mary Blackenhall for 21 years in 1540. In 1557 these were bought by Robert Thomas and Andrew Salter using money from the estate of William Pownsett of nearby Loxford, and granted to All Souls College, Oxford, in return for the vicar praying for the souls of Pownsett, his parents and benefactors every Sunday, giving 6 shillings and 8 pence amongst twenty poor people annually on the anniversary of Pownsett's death, paying the College an annual sum to maintain two poor scholars and only being absent from the parish 80 or fewer days a year. The College presented when the next vacancy occurred in 1560, but at the following one the Crown contested its right, though this was overturned via a lawsuit. Sir John Petre reconfirmed the 1557 grant in 1594, but dropped the requirement to pray for the dead. The right is now shared between All Souls College, Oxford, the Bishop of Chelmsford (in whose diocese it now falls) and the church's churchwardens.

17th century to 20th century

The church contains several memorials, including one to the 17th-century politician Charles Montagu. The explorer James Cook married Elizabeth Batts in the church on 21 December 1762.[4] Ten years later the nave, chancel and sanctuary all had their ceilings plastered, though this was removed from the nave ceiling in 1842.

Charles Winmill and George Jack were involved in a restoration of the interior between 1929 and 1936.[5][6] The building was Grade I listed in 1954.[7] An extension was added along the south side late in the 20th century to provide an office, bookshop and refectory.

Present day

The church is now one of three in a team parish covering Barking – the other two are Christ Church and St Patrick's.

The parish is unusual in having three churchwardens rather than the more normal two.[8]

In 2007, two small stones from remains of the old medieval London Bridge[9] were joined together in a sculpture in front of St Margaret's church facing the Barking Abbey ruins as part of several public artworks placed in Barking Town Centre by artist Joost Van Santen.[10]

Notable clergy

Many vicars of Barking have gone on to become bishops. Hugh Jermyn was Bishop of Colombo 1871–1875 and Bishop of Brechin 1875–1903, and Primus of Scotland 1886–1901. Robin Smith, a curate from 1962, later became Bishop of Hertford.

Vicars of Barking


  1. ^ Essex Record Office, T/P 93/2 f. 193.
  2. ^ 'The ancient parish of Barking: Abbeys and churches founded before 1830', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5, ed. W R Powell (London, 1966), pp. 222–231..
  3. ^ "St Margaret's, Barking". www.saintmargarets.org.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Barking Walks" (PDF).
  5. ^ "St Margaret's, Barking". www.saintmargarets.org.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  6. ^ "St Margaret's, Barking". www.saintmargarets.org.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  7. ^ Historic England. "PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARGARET, Barking and Dagenham (1064408)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  8. ^ Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher (1992). The London Encyclopaedia (reprint ed.). Macmillan. p. 753.
  9. ^ "Searching for the granite blocks from old London Bridge | London My London | One-stop base to start exploring the most exciting city in the world". www.londonmylondon.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  10. ^ generator, metatags. "http://home.wxs.nl/~jvansant/blocks1.html". home.wxs.nl. Retrieved 2017-10-14. External link in |title= (help)