Monday, March 19, 2012

St Mary's Church, Wimbledon

In the distance, behind Sandy Denny's awkwardly-posed parents, behind their garden where Sandy sits with other members of Fairport Convention, and behind the trees, stands St Mary's Church in Wimbledon Village. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott – architect of the Albert Memorial and the splendid St Pancreas Renaissance London Hotel – it's been around since the 12th century.

Unhalfbricking, Fairport Convention's third album, released in 1969, was one of the first LP covers to feature no text at all. Just two months before its release the band had been in a car crash which killed drummer Martin Lamble and Jeannie Franklyn, Richard Thompson's girlfriend.

Sandy Denny left Fairport Convention in 1969 to briefly form her own band, Fotheringay, before embarking on a successful solo career. But by the mid-70s drink and drugs had taken their toll. She gave birth to a daughter but was neglectful; she would apparently leave her alone in the car whilst she was in the pub. In 1978 she fell into a coma and died four days later at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon. She was buried at – no, not St Mary's – nearby Putney Vale Cemetery.

St Mary's is home to one celebrity, however, none other than Joseph Bazalgette (mausoleum, above right), the chief engineer of London's metropolitan board of works, who created the sewage network system for the city as a response to the 'Great Stink' of 1858. Bazalgette and his family lived in Wimbledon, in Arthur Road, the same road Sandy Denny's parents lived.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Marc Bolan's Barnes Rock Shrine
The Burton's Bedouin Tent Tomb
Safe as Castles

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