St Mary's Church

Church

St Mary the Virgin is a Grade 1 listed Norman church, dating from 1100, standing in an oval churchyard of Saxon origins. The area is actually the courtyard of the motte and bailey castle which was destroyed in the 14th century, nobody knows why!

The churchyard contains many graves of the Machen family, the graveof a girl who was married at 14 and died at 15, as well as an interesting tomb of Charles, the black servant of George Wyrall, which is close to the east window.

Originally the tower was in the centre of the church, but it was made from soft local sandstone which fell down. Rather than rebuilding it the Normans built a new western tower. Look out for the Norman arches supporting the walls and the fine carvings on the eastern arch of chevrons and beak heads, possibly sculptured by a traveling stonemason (known as a journeyman) on his way to Kikpeck where there are similar carvings.

The church has some fascinating stone figures, the shapes of three people who died over 700 years ago: Cecilia de Muchegros, the second wife of Robert de Muchegros who died in 1301; and Hawisia, dressed in a long flowing robe, who died in 1353. It is not known who the third figure with a young body and an old head was - possibly a priest. There is also a screen dating from 1500, the Machen family chapel and some fine stained glass windows by Percy Bacon dating from 1908. The long chancel was also rebuilt in the 13th century and note the wagon-roofed nave.

In April 2007, the Bells were returned from the repairers and manhandled into the Church. The bell hanger started work on the 9th May to re-hang the four original 1709 bells and the new one made by Rudhalls of Gloucester. St Mary’s is one of the few churches in the country to have an anti-clockwise ring.

Services

The parish shares a priest-in-charge, the Revd Helen Rodwell, Associate priest covering during the current vacancy, with the adjacent parish of Christchurch. There is a shared parish magazine. A local Ministry Team plays a valued part in assisting with services and general pastoral work.

Prayer book services are held each Sunday at 9.30 am, alternating between Matins and Holy Communion, with occasional afternoon family services at 3.0 pm. Refreshments follow each of the services, and visitors are always most welcome to join in. After the morning service coffee is served in the home of a member of the congregation.

Activities

The church sponsors a Summer Fete which brings together organizations in each of the parishes.

Also there are Pop-in lunches and a Christmas Coffee Morning in the village hall.