St. Mary Magdalene Church

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Opposite Castle Square and near the Cathedral, this has the splendid name of St. Mary Magdalene with St. Paul in the Bail and St. Michael on the Mount. St Paul in the Bail and St Michael on the Mount were declared redundant in the late 20thC and their parishes combined with that of St Mary Magdalene, hence the mouthful of a name.

There has been a church here since Saxon times, but it was demolished to make way for the cathedral. The parishioners were allowed to worship in the Morning Chapel in the cathedral which is dedicated Mary Magdalene. The present site was granted to the parishioners and a church was built here in 1280. It was badly damaged in the Civil War and rebuilt at the end of the 17thC. In 1880 it was extensively restored by GF Bodley.

The church is only open for an hour on weekday mornings and I just managed to get in before it closed. Otherwise you admire through a glass doorway.

It is a tall rectangular building with an offset short square tower on the north side. Onside there is a nave and narrow north aisle separated by pillars and pointed arches. At the back of the church is a simple stone font.

Across the chancel is a carved rood screen with delicate open carved tracery at the top. Standing in front of it is a low wooden pulpit with carved panels.

The simple table altar has tall candlesticks and a long red curtain hanging behind it. Round the chancel walls is pure Bodley decoratively carved and painted panelling. Above is the semi-circular east window with scenes of the crucifixion. Other stained glass windows have images of saints.

On the north wall is a small boxed crucifix with a roll of honour containing six names.

The ceiling of the north aisle has painted panels. The nave ceiling is plainer with a painted border round the base and painted ribs. The chancel ceiling has wood panels with gilded bosses.

It is worth trying to get into the church as there is so much detail which can’t be seen from the doorway

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