Even if you are not a religious person, you can’t pass by St. Mary Church in Fairford, without coming inside. It looks really attractive, being extremely huge and beautiful.
It is always light inside of the church as it has 28 windows. When you look at its building, you can’t help thinking about the noble history of the church, about those great events, that took place under its roof.
The History of St. Mary’s Church
It is hard to believe, but this church was founded in the 15th century. It looks extremely luxurious and rich and at first sight you can understand, that a lot of money was spent to create this building and decorate it.
But in the 11th century it was just a small local church that looked ordinary and no one could tell, that soon it would become the special gem of Fairford. But in 1490 the church was completely rebuilt. It was done at the expense of John Tame. The rich woolen merchant wanted to do something noble and meaningful in his life. He got the permission of the city council and started the work. But in 1500 the trader died and didn’t complete his job. The son of the merchant, Edmund Tame, who knew, how important it used to be for his father to build the church, decided to finish the building. To honor his dad, Edmund made the table tomb at Lady’s Chapel. Besides he decorated St. Mary’s with medieval stained glass. Till know the Church is decorated with this glass, only one window was broken and the glass there was replaced, all the others have the glass of 15th century.
The church became popular. Many people from different parts of England came here. They wanted to pray, to honor the God under the roof of this church. Some of them came here to celebrate Christmas or Easter. Of course, different family events like weddings or christening were arranged here. What can you see, if you come to the church nowadays?
St. Mary’s Church Today
So, what can we tell about St. Mary’s Church today? It is still an impressive building that looks solid and noble. The church has been standing here since the 15th century and it was the witness of various historical events. The church is decorated with 28 windows. As it was mentioned above, the glass was made in the 15th century and it wasn’t changed since then.
The windows are not just decorations of St. Mary’s. They tell the biblical stories to those, who have come to the church and didn’t read the Bible or have forgotten everything they used to read.
Nine windows tell us about the Life of Christ. The first window starts from the picture of organ and then the way of life of Christ is retold in pictures. Of course, it is impossible to pass by the 9th window and not to stop here for a while. The Last Judgment is depicted there.
When you look at different windows with biblical pictures, you can’t stop thinking, how they managed to survive during the long period of wars and other social problems. The glass of the windows could be broken thousand times.
There are different theories that try to explain this fact. The first one is connected with the glass composition. It had some secret ingredients that made it so firm. The others insist that the glass was whitewashed and thus it became stronger.
But the most plausible is the idea that the church and its windows were protected by a powerful and influential person, who kept everything in order till 1703. That year one of the windows was broken. The people in the church picked all the pieces of the glass together and tried to renew it, but it was of no success. In 1864 the Chance Brother firm of Smethwick repaired the window. The glass was replaced and the picture was painted again there.
St. Mary’s Church is not just a place, where religious people can pray and honor the God. It is historical attraction that is the sample of interesting architectural style. It is the special place, where different family events take place. So, what can we see and what events can visit in the church now?
This church is not just the place of interest, it is a religious institution and that’s why a lot of significant events take place here every week.
The workers of the church understand the importance of religious education for children. So they organize meetings for small visitors of the church every week. The pupils of local primary school are the frequent guests here. They can spend some hours in the church, listen to different biblical stories and read them in a loud voice in a small circle of closest friends. Unfortunately, not every mother and father read the stories from Bible to their children and of course some parents don’t know or don’t remember the stories from Bible themselves. That’s why so called “Coffee Mornings” in the church, when the Bible is read, are so important to small Fairford children.
The events for adults are also arranged at St. Mary’s. Thus they can celebrate different religious holidays together, discuss chapters from Bible or even cook food and then have the dinner together. If you have some important family events, like christening, you can arrange it here, in one of the most beautiful churches in the world. And of course, young people, who are getting married, are welcomed here.
If you plan your wedding at St. Mary’s Church, you should discuss it in advance with the workers. There are many people, who like to get married in this significant place, especially in summer or early autumn, so you should come in advance to discuss it and get the permission.
Organizers of your wedding in the church will provide you for everything necessary to make your wedding great – thus you can ask for flowers, organists, choir and bells.
If you plan to make photos or videos of the event, you should get the permission in advance. For those, who want to get married, using their own musical themes, suitable CD disks are allowed.
Getting married in such a five star church is the honor for everyone, so consider this place while planning your wedding.
St. Mary’s Church is situated at High Street in Fairford. You can get there by car or using public transportation. If you plan some special event and want to discuss it in advance, the Parish Office is opened from 10:00 till 12:00.
St. Mary’s is a unique religious institution that is interesting from religious and from cultural point of view. If you come to Fairford one sunny morning, don’t forget to visit this church. You will never regret about it!