This is Walter Gaynesford. He became the priest of All Saints church when he was about 30 years old – over a staggering 500 years ago. As well as being one of the very first images of a Carshalton resident, it’s also the first known image of an All Saints priest.
We do know a little bit about him. Firstly here’s an image of his mother, Margaret, wearing a flowing red dress.
The next image is of Walter’s father, Nicholas. He was the High Sherriff of Surrey and Sussex.
High Sheriffs represented the Sovereign to uphold all matters relating to law and order. Nicholas gained favour with King Edward IV, King Edward V and King Henry VII.
Walter’s parents Margaret and Nicholas married around 1455, and soon after, they made Stone Court their home. Stone Court was located in the area now known as The Grove, possibly where the current ‘Grove Mansion’ stands. A later Stone Court was built in The Grove on the area of grass shown below.
Their oldest son was called John. He would inherit the family fortune. His younger brother, Walter, being the second oldest would have been expected to go into the military or church. And the church is where we find him.
It’s highly plausible Walter lived at the church, in a tower room above the entranceway. The church at this time was owned by Merton Priory and this is something early Tudor priests are known to have done, and there are structural indications that this was the case at All Saints too.
Most of Walter’s family are immortalised in brass. Here’s the full image of Walter with his mum and dad. He’s the little figure second from right, with his siblings.
Chaplain Walter Gaynesford died young at age 35 in 1493, and this brass shows him both as a Catholic priest and a Priory monk. Note the bald head. We also know he’s a priest as he has robes and is holding a chalice. In Tudor times, 35 was the average life expectancy.
All of these brasses can be viewed at All Saints by appointment. And jumping forward 34 priests to the present day, a big thanks to the current Father David and churchwarden Andrew for showing me around.
© Words and images by Secret Carshalton. We endeavour to get the facts as accurate as possible but are always happy to adjust if new info comes to light. We hope you enjoyed reading this account of Father Walter. If you did, we’d love to know what you thought. Please leave your feedback in the comments below. Thank you.