The oldest building in Slough
One of three churches in the modern parish of Upton-cum-Chalvey, Saint Laurence's Church is the oldest building in Slough. In the twelfth century the wooden parish church of Upton was replaced with a flint building. Tower and outside walls of the Norman building form part of the present church. Two other Norman features survive: the ancient baptismal font, and a piscina. During the reformation, many of the ancient decorations were mutilated. A thirteenth century Italian allegorical image of the Trinity — God Father, Son and Holy Spirit — survived and was reassembled during the restoration of the church.
Dereliction and Restoration
By the early nineteenth century the church had fallen into such disrepair that it was decided to build a new church,
Saint Mary’s, in the town centre. The Norman building was saved from demolition by a local farmer who secured the outside walls and tower. Saint Laurence’s was restored 1850-1851 and rededicated on 2 December 1851.
Famous associations with the church
Saint Laurence’s Church is the final resting place of Slough astronomer Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), the discoverer of Uranus. A new stained glass window commemorates Herschel and his discovery. The churchyard probably inspired the 1751 Elegy in a country churchyard by local poet Thomas Gray (1716-1771). Saint Laurence’s ‘ivy-mantled tow’r’ was a well-known landmark housing a curfew bell that ‘tolls the knell of parting day’ across the fields of Eton College.