The History of St Mary's



Extracted from the Statement of Significance for St Mary's Peterborough

The Parish of St Mary’s to the East of Peterborough was created by Order-in-Council on 1 September 1857. It was the largest parish in Peterborough and comprised of Eastfield, Boongate and Newark (an outlying village then) to the East of Paeterborough (now with a population of approximately 15,000).

A Victorian Church was commissioned and it was to serve as a “poor church” for the Parish and hence the foundation stone laid on 30 September 1859. The architect was Ewan Christian. The Church was built of relatively cheap local stone and consisted of a nave and south aisle. It was consecrated on 7 August 1860 by the Bishop of the Diocese, and the first incumbent, Reverend W R Thomas, took up his duties. To the basic design were added the following:



The first organ (1873)


North Aisle (1876)


Tower with saddleback roof completed in 1884


Clock in the tower installed in 1886 (at the expense of £88)


Six bells installed in the tower (1887). They were made by Warner and Son of London to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.


There were eventually six contemporary stained glass windows. Four are nineteenth century and the last two added in 1960. (These have all been transferred to the new Church of St Mary's, and are described in more detail in the “Statement of Significance” of the New Church, attached).



Stained glass from the original
church now in the Chapel

As stated above, the Parish of St Mary was a large one. In the nineteenth century ‘TERRIER AND INVENTORY OF ST MARY’S PETERBOROUGH” (which is still held in the new Church) and was drawn up in the Diocese of Peterborough, Archdeaconry of Oakham, Rural Deanery of Peterborough No 1. The following assets were attributed to the Parish:


The Vicarage


The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Peterborough in the County of Northampton in the Diocese of Peterborough


The Glebe House of 9 rooms


Outbuildings: Coach House, Stables, laundry, coal house, W.C., garden, paddock and adjoining 3 acres, all attached to the Glebe House.


Mission Church in Eastgate (made of wood and iron)


School and Mission room of Newark village and adjoining land of 34 perches (St Mary’s School was build in 1850: prior to the Parish).


A piece of land with cottage (of about 1 rood)

It is on the site of this old Church of St Mary the Virgin, that the new Church of St Mary was built. During the twentieth century, the old Church began to fall into a state of disrepair: the upkeep of the bricks and mortar, together with the problems of heating and leaks, led the congregation regretfully to consider building a modern church in its place. The last vicar of the old Church, James Bates, who had previous experience in the building business, put forward a plan of selling the old Church and surrounding prime land to new town developers, in return for a new Church to be built by them for the Parish. This was eventually agreed and the last service to be held at the old Church was on 22 October, 1989.

From 1989 to 1991 the new Church was built (and, of course, stands in close proximity to the new secular developments. Whilst the building was being completed, the congregation moved to Haig Hall, The Royal British Legion, Legion Hall, Brook Street.

On 16 November 1991, William Lord Bishop of Peterborough, dedicated the new Church

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