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Church of St. Mary, Marlborough

Church of St. Mary, Marlborough Date Photo Taken 1803
Uploaded 25/10/2007 08:29:35
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

It is assumed that there was a Saxon church here as in the late 11th century there is a reference to churches in Marlborough. A Norman church was built c.1160, of which only a few pieces remain. The dedication to St. Mary is known from 1223. In the 15th and early 16th centuries the aisles were rebuilt and extended and a crenellated west tower added. When Marlborough was under a Royalist siege in 1642 the Parliamentarian commander took refuge in the church and the north side of the tower still bears the marks of shot from Royalist guns. The church was partially rebuilt on Puritan lines after a severe fire in the town in 1653. The roof burned and fell into the church causing the Norman
arcades to become so dangerous that they had to be demolished.

In 1873 a new chancel was built to the design of G.E. Street and a 15th century window reset as the east window and a south porch added. The church then consisted of a chancel and north chapel, a nave with a south aisle and south chapel and a west tower and south porch. After the First World War the south chapel was restored as a memorial.The church was thoroughly restored in 1955-7 at a cost of over £7,000. In 1969 the peal of bells was increased to 8; there were 5 in 1553, which had been increased to 6 in the early 20th century. In 1924 the benefices of St. Mary and St. Peter and St. Paul were united as the rectory of Marlborough and the parishes were united in 1952 with St. Mary's as the parish church.

In 1974 it became the only Anglical church when St. Peter and St. Paul became redundant. In 1678 William White of Witney had left 800 books in trust for the vicar and this became known as the Vicar's Library. They were later transfered to Marlborough College. During the 17th rebuilding a defaced statue of the goddess Fortuna was built into the west wall of the nave. It probably came from Roman Cunetio (Mildenhall). The parish registers from 1602, other than those in current use, are held in the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office.

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