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St Mary-le-More

Mediæval Wallingford, on the main London-Gloucester road and at the only crossing of the Thames for miles around, was a substantial market town with a castle which was one of England’s most magnificent mediæval palaces. At one time the town had 11 parish churches and St Mary-le-More was so called to distinguish it from St Mary the Less. It is now the principal church for the whole parish of Wallingford.

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There has been a church on this site since Norman times, though most of the present structure is the result of a rebuilding in 1854 by the architect David Brandon.

In the English Civil War Wallingford was a Royalist stronghold – the Royal court was based at Oxford – and only surrendered to the Parliamentary army in 1646 after a sixteen-week siege. Cromwell ordered the castle to be demolished, and some of its flint and stone was used to rebuild the tower of St Mary’s, which had been struck by lightning.

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A major re-ordering in 2010 made the interior into a modern and flexible space, which is used for markets, meetings, and concerts as well as for services. Facilities include good disabled access, toilets and a kitchen/servery, with all seating using chairs.

Location

Address

St Mary-le-More, St Martin's Street, Wallingford OX10 0EG

Car parks

  • Waitrose, 1 St Martin's Street, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 0EF
    Free parking from 5:00 pm on Saturdays

  • Thames Street – Free parking from 6:00 pm on Saturdays

  • Goldsmith’s Lane – Free parking from 2:00 pm on Saturdays

  • Cattlemarket – Free parking from 6:00 pm on Saturdays

  • All car parks are open 24 hours.

St Peter’s

For the first 35 seasons of live chamber music in Wallingford, concerts were held in St Peter’s Church, near the river, until switched to St Mary-le-More in the centre of the town in 2021.

Mediæval Wallingford, on the main London-Gloucester road and at the only crossing of the Thames for miles around, was a substantial market town with a castle which was one of England’s most magnificent mediæval palaces; at one time the town had 11 parish churches. The original St Peter’s was in existence before 1320. In the English Civil War Wallingford was a Royalist stronghold – the Royal court was based at Oxford – and only surrendered to the Parliamentary army in 1646 after a sixteen week siege, during which St Peter’s was badly damaged.

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The church was rebuilt in 1760-­69, and the spire added in 1776 to a design by Robert Taylor. Sir William Blackstone, a judge, Fellow of All Souls Oxford, and author of Commentaries on the Laws of England, was churchwarden at the time and played a leading role in raising money for the spire; he is buried in a vault under the church.

The eighteenth-­century church is a plain rectangle, with a very fine coffered ceiling. The chancel was added in 1904-­5. The stained glass in the East window, by Morris & Co., dates from 1919.

 

In 1972 the church was declared redundant, and passed into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It remains a consecrated church, and occasional services are held there and it became the venue for the Music at St Peter’s concerts.

 

This church has an entry on the Churches Conservation Trust website.

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