It is thought that this church is on a site that has offered worship for more than 1700 years. Fragments of Roman material can still be seen here and there in the fabric of the current building. The monuments and reuse of stone chart the history of the church’s development over time. Spanning eight centuries since Fulcherius in the late 12th century the incumbents stretch down to the present day, Fr James Elston becoming Team Vicar in 2012.
Winter Night Shelter
The Parish co-ordinates a Winter Night Shelter during the coldest months from January to March in conjunction with C4WS. The guests are offered places at St Mary’s Church and our four churches supply volunteers on a rota basis, cooking, welcoming, cleaning, setting up etc. If you are interested in volunteering please contact our Pastoral Assistant Jonathan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until 150 years ago, people were still being buried in the churchyard and there have been some notable burials over time including Mary Wollstonecraft, author of The Vindication of the Rights of Women. Sir John Soane built his impressive family mausoleum in the churchyard, the design of which then went on to inspire Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s design for the now famous red telephone box. The churchyard was also the site of the first romantic meeting of Mary Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The Hardy Tree
As the Victorian’s set about building a railway through the churchyard many bodies had to be exhumed and moved. Their original tombstones were re-erected around the base of a nearby tree at the direction of Thomas Hardy, the famous writer, who was then a surveyor.