Above: The parish church standing in its original churchyard which is very close to what remains of Paddington Green.
This is essentially a ‘country church’, set in its old churchyard, with all the noise and bustle of the busy West End going on around it. Having said that, you may well comment that the view does not appear to reflect the busy surroundings. In fact, that is exactly how the church looks on a sunny early spring morning. The parish church of St Mary is one of the historic ‘treasures’ of Paddington – sitting within what is a rather built-up and traffic laden area of London.
The first parish church existed as a chapel before 1222. It was dedicated to St Catherine and stood on the same site. In 1678 the second parish church of Paddington was built – again on the same site – and its dedication was to St James. It was at the second church that the well-known painter William Hogarth was married to Jane Thornhill, on the 23 March 1729.
The third parish church – which is the one we have today – was dedicated to St Mary. Why different saints’ names were chosen for each church is not known. This church was built 1788-91 to designs of John Plaw. In 1831 the famous actress Sarah Siddons died and was buried in the church. There is an imposing statue to her in the churchyard, not far from the church.
The churchyard is yards from the busy Harrow Road so it is seldom free from the noise of traffic thundering past. Just a short distance away (to the east) is the equally busy Edgware Road. In spite of all the modern roads, the church and its surrounding continue to provide a haven of peace and relaxation amid the modern-day office blocks as Paddington accelerates into the 21st century.