History

The Chancel

The Chancel, which is the end of the church near the altar, contains the carved tomb of Richard Burré who died in 1527. The windows are 15th century, although remnants of 13th century windows are visible. A blocked 13th century arch can also be seen – this was probably either a priest’s door or a leper’s squint (for sufferers to watch a service from outside the building).

The sanctuary area contains a collection of reused Saxon carved stones. In 1974 the chancel floor, the tower floor and half of the south transept floor were replaced with Moulin a Vent French limestone. A 17th century tombstone is set into the chancel floor.

The Hospitallers Room

This multi-function room on the North side of the church was built in 1971 on the ruin of the 14th century Knights Hospitaller’s Chapel. An archaeological dig during the building work found an empty tomb and the pieces of a stone coffin lid. The grave is believed to be that of William Hyder, a Knight Hospitaller who died on 12th June 1524.

The Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar

The patronage of St. Mary's church was originally granted to the Knights Templar, giving them the right to become involved whenever a new priest was selected.

The Templars organisation was dissolved in the 14th century, with most of its property passed to the Knights Hospitaller. The Hospitallers had been founded as a religious order (the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem) at the beginning of the 12th century to care for sick pilgrims and other travellers to the Holy Land. Later they took on additional military duties, working alongside the Knights Templar to protect pilgrims. Henry VIII disbanded the Hospitallers in 1548. In the 19th century a British Order of St. John of Jerusalem was set up to care for the sick, leading to the formation of the St. John Ambulance Brigade.

Additional information

A parish archive of social, archaeological and architectural records is maintained by and Carol-Ann Barber. Guided tours, local walks and school visits are also available by arrangement.

Return to beginning