St Mary Magdalen
This Roman Catholic church, designed by Gilbert Blount in Gothic style, was built in 1852. Until the mid-l840s there were very few Catholics living in the Mortlake area. The exception being Lady Constantia Mostyn and her household at Portobello House where they had a small private chapel. After 1846 the terrible famine in Ireland caused many Irish workers to seek employment in Mortlake's well-known market gardens. Before the building of the church local Catholics worshipped in a room over the stables at Portobello House where Mass could be celebrated by a visiting priest. In 1849 a young priest, Fr John Wenham, was given the responsibility of founding the parish, and land in North Worple Way was soon acquired on which to build a church. The tracery in the windows and the carving on the capitals are impressive and would have been expensive to create. Fr Wenham had studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, which may explain why Mary Magdalen was chosen as the patron saint of the new church.
The adjacent cemetery was opened in 1853. Much visited is the curious mausoleum of Sir Richard Burton the explorer, who died in 1890, and his wife Isabel. The tomb is shaped like an Arab tent. A window in memory of Burton, given by his widow, is in the north aisle of the church near the Lady Chapel.
For further information see St Mary Magdalen's website