St Mary

Sitting on top of the hill, just across the road from Canons Ashby House, this church is looked after by the National Trust, it is a fragment of the west end of the nave of the Augustinian Priory founded around 1150.

About this church

St Mary’s has a splendid facade lying adjacent to the large tower that was added in the mid 14th century. Inside, at the base of that tower, is a well laid out museum devoted to the building, which includes a model of the original monastic buildings.

Internally the church is a large barn like space giving a sense of the sheer scale of the medieval original. The nave then was 29 metres long and this was followed by an equally long chancel.

The large windows shed light on the whitewashed walls decorated around the east window with faux curtains held back by putti. This is by Elizabeth Creed around 1710. She was a cousin of the Dryden family who arrived here following the Dissolution of the monastery and who built the adjacent house. In the church their hatchments, armour and two outstanding neo classical white marble tombs, both by Rossi, can be seen.

The poet John Dryden was a cousin of the family and the remains of the archaeologist Sir Henry Dryden lie in the churchyard under a tall Celtic cross. Few churches in the county have such resonance from both Medieval and Georgian times.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

St John the Baptist

Rare late Regency church in very remote pastoral setting with original stencilling, box pews and a good monument from 1700.


St Nicholas

The church is at the south end of the village adjacent to Eydon Hall, and oddly, both it and the hall post date this fascinating village.

St Mary the Virgin

The church has been at the heart of the village of Woodford Halse since the 12th century although the church was substantially rebuilt in the late 19th century.

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