St Mary

The ancient church was built nearly one thousand years ago and, together with its historic graveyards, provides a unique home for the key moments and memories of our town.

About this church

The church was built in the mid 12th century. Only the ground stage of the tower and portions of the nave walls remain from that original building. Later in the 12th century the aisles and the upper stages of the tower were added, and the chancel was rebuilt in the mid 13th century. Restorations were made after fire damage of 1637 and 1719 with further restoration and additions of the 1870s.

The heavy oak door is a notable example of 14th century woodwork: its six panels have foliated tops, four of them containing curved masks, recognisable as two of women wearing period head dress and two of bearded men. The original nave is Norman. The main aisle walls were raised in the 14th century, as can be clearly seen both externally in the change in the stonework about 12ft above ground level on the south side, and internally in the portions of 12/13th century arches embedded in the pillars on both sides of the nave near its east end, showing the transition from Norman to Early English.

Of special interest are the 15th century nave pillars and arches, the latter having the double ogee mouldings and deep recesses of the Perpendicular period. Only the roof and north transept are relatively modern. The massive Norman tower is entered through a wide arch, filled with an oak screen donated in 1931 by the Charrington family who also gave the chancel screen. The tower walls are five feet thick below ground.

The most striking windows are the four large memorial windows on the north and south sides of the nave, crafted in the William Morris factory in the style of the preRaphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones, their Chief Designer. The glass is beautiful, and emulates some of the finest Burne Jones windows, like that in Christ Church Chapel, Oxford.

On the north wall of the chancel, there is a fine sculptured Jacobean monument representing John Aldersey, haberdasher and merchant adventurer of London, with his wife (a Hoskins) and all seventeen of their children in an attitude of prayer.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings

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

Church of the Peace of God

In 1811 the newly erected church could somehow seat 256 people plus 94 other and had a capacity congregation each Sunday.


St Peter

St Peter's is popular with walkers who find it featured in most walking guides to the area particularly as it has the second largest yew tree in UK.

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