Dating back as far as 1123, St Mary’s Warwick is one of the UK’s oldest and most-loved parish churches, also known as Warwick’s ‘church of treasures’. Its landmark tower, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 and rebuilt in 1704, is over 130 feet high. Visible from every direction, for centuries the tower has been the focal point for travellers approaching Warwick. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding Warwickshire countryside and houses a ring of ten bells, three of them dating from the original casting. Every three hours, on the hour, the bells are played as a carillon and each day of the week has its own tune. Since 1123, music has filled this magnificent church and today’s professionally directed choirs continue this unbroken choral tradition.
With the support of our funding, St Mary’s Warwick will make vital repairs to the iconic tower which is so important to the heritage of the church and its strong musical tradition. A significant piece of masonry fell from the west face of the tower in April 2021 onto the road beneath. Although nobody was hurt, it made it very clear the repair work was extremely urgent and the tower has been secured with scaffolding ever since.
St Mary’s aim is to raise £1.4 million to ensure the work is completed to the highest standard and make it safe for visitors. The church wants to preserve as much of the original stonework before it’s too late, and so it hopes to start work as soon as possible with a goal of finishing in Autumn 2023 – just in time to celebrate the building’s 900-year anniversary!
John Edwards, a local resident, said: "I have lived in Warwick for over 50 years and have always been able to see and admire the tower. To me, St Mary’s Church is an important focal point for the town and I have constantly enjoyed its relaxing feel, its music and the services it provides to the community.
“The tower is currently shrouded in scaffold and protective netting and will remain so until funds are raised to make the stonework safe again. It is simply inconceivable to me that the tower, looking like it does today, should remain the face of Warwick forever."
Paul Playford, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “It is evident how much St Mary’s means to the local community and the many visitors who enjoy its rich history and spectacular tower. We’re delighted to support the church’s campaign and do our bit to contribute to the vital repair work which will restore the church to its former glory, ready to mark its 900th Anniversary.”
To find out more about St Mary’s restoration campaign or to donate towards the cause, visit https://www.stmaryscampaign2023.org.uk.