Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Holy Banbury?

A while ago, back in the winter, we went to church with Bones in Banbury at St Mary's, used by both the C of E and the United Reformed Church.

The present building is a large Georgian church, consecrated in 1797 and built of local Hornton Stone. It replaced a medieval church which had become dangerous due to disrepair and finally fell down one Sunday morning in April 1770. The tower fell down the following day, leaving a complete ruin. That is one version of the story and appeals most to me! Another is that the townsfolk blew it up with gunpowder!

The new church and its "pepper pot" tower was not completed until 1822. The architect, Samuel Pepys Cockerill, designed the church as a complete square, possibly modeled on one of Sir Christopher Wren's churches which has a dome supported by 12 pillars - as does St Mary's. The church accommodated 3,000 with a gallery around all four sides. Extensive alterations in the mid 19th C dispensed with the eastern gallery and the whole east end was redesigned. More details are here - clickety click.

The Vicarage was built in the 17th C - on the site of the old medieval one which was badly damaged in the Civil War. Much of it was also remodelled in the 19th C. It retains the date of building, 1649, and the initials of Samuel Wells (the then vicar) over the porch. It is now used by a legal firm.

Church House, now over the main road, was also built of Hornton Stone. It was built in 1904 as a sort of church hall. It is now a pub!

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