The Church at the Heart of the Town
Every year, thousands of people visit our beautiful church, some to worship, others to discover its great history, and many to attend our musical events, which are amongst the finest in the area. St Mary’s is the jewel in the town of Totnes: it is simply impossible to imagine the town without it.
From whatever viewpoint you look, whether from the many surrounding hills or from the River Dart which made Totnes such an important trading town, the church dominates and defines the town. No wonder the many new housing estates springing up around the town feature the church prominently in their marketing materials: they know that Totnes wouldn’t be half such a draw without it!
Some people come in from the bustle of the town for a quiet moments of reflection, others to light a candle in our chapel or to browse Friends of St Mary’s lovely shop. Once inside the church, one immediately senses the aura of peace and sanctity. You have only to glance through the thousands of comments in our visitors’ book to confirm this although of course you need silence to experience it. But first, a few words of advice…
Look up, down and around, focussing on specific things. Whatever you look at, be aware of the love and care and craftsmanship that has gone into creating particular items to beautify this building, or perhaps to portray the very real fear of personal demons. Wherever you look, the church is stuffed with amazing examples of this. Many things, such as the beautifully carved Tudor rose bosses in the porch, one might never have noticed oneself have been pointed out by observant strangers.
Did you notice the intricately carved oak doors? There’s nothing quite like them anywhere in the country! The early 16th century oak doors are of great art historic importance. The Friends of St Mary’s recently helped fund their refurbishment by Dr Hugh Harrison, a well known authority in this field. The small indentations may have made by gunshot during the Civil War. The only other door of similar date (1517) is at the entrance to the Greenaway Aisle, at St Peter’s, Tiverton.
St Mary’s has existed as a Parish and Priory Church since around the time of the Norman Conquest, although there has probably been a church here since Totnes was founded as a Saxon burgh in the early 10th century.
• the above text and images are also featured in our downloadable pdf leaflet (2.5Mb) – ideal for emailing or showing to friends and relatives in the UK and overseas who might be interested in the activities and Membership of the Friends of St Mary’s
Do you wish you could bottle a bit of St Mary’s and take it home with you?
Well, you can – by joining the Friends of St Mary’s!
Membership benefits include:
Access to a stunning, growing collection of online images showing our historic church in all its splendour – not to mention close-up photos of many architectural highlights that you may have missed. Below are a few examples for starters, more to come soon. Members can view the images at high resolution (3000 x 4000px) suitable for printing or for studying in fine detail.
Also, Members receive email listings of all forthcoming concerts and events, with reserved seating (on prior application) for all ticketed Friends of St Mary’s events.
Last but not least, you are helping to support a variety of very worthy projects to enhance and maintain St Mary’s Church.
Click HERE to find out how to join!