Church of St Mary the Virgin

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Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2016

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St Mary the Virgin is a beautiful Georgian neo-classical building in the centre of Banbury. It is set back off the road and screened by trees, which almost completely hide its ‘pepper pot’ tower’. It is a square building with a semicircular portico in front of it.

The Medieval church had been badly damaged during the Civil War and collapsed in 1790. The tower collapsed the next day. It was replaced by this lovely building, said to be modelled on churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The east end was redesigned in the mid C19th with an apse. The church has recently been opened up with a raised dais for concerts.

It really has the WOW factor as soon as you step through the door. he central dome is supported by 12 round pillars with gilded capitals. The round arches are picked out in red and gold. The ceiling is painted in pale blue or dark blue with tiny gold stars. Wall pillars soar up to the ribs of the ceiling, making an intricate pattern of domes overhead. There are wooden galleries round three walls.

The dome of the chancel apse is painted with the Vision of the Throne of God from Revelations ch 4. On the walls below are paintings of the twelve apostles.

The pulpit, font and stained glass windows are C19th. The upper windows have scenes from the life of Jesus.The lower windows illustrate the stories of the parables. The first picture is of the Wedding Banquet from Matthew 22, when the king is casting out the guest who is not wearing a wedding garment. Though many are called, few are chosen. The second picture is the parable of the sower.

The church is usually open 10-4. I went in just before the 9.30am service. It is definitely wort visiting. The organ had been temporarily dismantled in June 2016 to allow repairs to the roof above.

The post code is OX16 0AA and the grid reference is SP 454406.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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