Church of St Mary the Virgin, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
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An ancient church with world famous stained glass
The spire of St Mary's is one of the tallest in England and for over 500 years it has dominated the skyline of Shrewsbury's old town. In 1739, showman Robert Cadman attempted to slide from it, head first, using a rope and a grooved breastplate. His engraved obituary stands outside the west door.
The church is now the only complete medieval church in Shrewsbury. It dates from Saxon times and has beautiful additions from the twelfth-century onwards. Inside, the atmosphere is peaceful with the soaring stone arches giving way to the church's great treasure - its stained glass. There are panels in glorious colour including the world-famous fourteenth-century 'Jesse window'; filled with figures of Old Testament kings and prophets, and scenes from the life of St Bernard - a Medieval cartoon strip that shows him ridding flies from an abbey, riding a mule and curing the sick. No other church in the country has a collection to equal it.
Most of the glass was brought from elsewhere, much of it from Europe, by two remarkable clergymen, and installed in St Mary's during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Warmth and richness is also provided by superb Victorian coloured tiles on the floor. Lifting your eyes upwards, you will see the wonderful fifteenth-century carved oak ceiling of the nave, with a profusion of animals, birds and angels.
Other details delight you wherever you look: an ancient font, Medieval stone carving on the arcades, interesting monuments. The beauty and variety of this church and its contents, all on a grand scale, blend into an uplifting and memorable whole.
NEW LOTTERY FUNDED PROJECT 2022-2024
Thanks to support from National Lottery players and CCT donors, a new project (The Past, Present and Future of St Mary’s Stained-Glass) will repair, protect and highlight the exceptional stained glass collection, and engage audiences with enhanced interpretation and an exciting programme of events and workshops.
The leaflet below lists the craft skills activities for 2023, which can be booked via the What's On section of the website:Heritage Skills Series at St Mary's
The 2024 Heritage Skills Series will be advertised soon. Please keep visiting this page for updates.
STAINED GLASS FESTIVAL - August 2023
During August, St Mary’s partnered with Shrewsbury Arts Trail, and hosted a festival celebrating the history of the church and its stained and painted glass collections. The festival was a huge success and welcomed close to six thousand visitors into the church.
The Stained Glass Festival flyer provides details of what took place. St Mary's will run a similar event with new and exciting displays during August 2024.Stained Glass Festival Flyer
LETTERS HAND MADE - 12-31 August 2024
During the Stained Glass Festival 2024 one of the featured exhibitions will be run by the Calligraphy & Lettering Arts Society (CLAS).
The Calligraphy & Lettering Arts Society is a UK registered charity that aims to educate the public in the practice, appreciation and use of all forms of calligraphy and lettering arts. Its membership is drawn from all over the world and represents all levels of ability from the professional Fellows to beginners.
2024 marks the 30th anniversary of CLAS, which will be celebrated with Letters Hand Made, a travelling exhibition of work created by CLAS members. This will be the seventh exhibition that CLAS has organised over the years.
In addition to Shrewsbury, the exhibition will travel to London, Wells and Halifax between April and October 2024.
CLAS will also run a demonstration and workshop at St Mary's using the script in the stained glass windows to examine different forms of text, styles of penmanship, and calligraphy techniques.
06 March 2024 - 06 March 2024
Create and take home your own mini planter using recycled and recyclable materials.
27 March 2024 - 27 March 2024
Make marbled ceramic eggs to decorate your homes at Easter.
24 April 2024 - 24 April 2024
Create designs inspired by the stained glass windows at St Mary’s Church.
05 June 2024 - 05 June 2024
Decoupage dried flowers and foraged foliage onto glass.
17 July 2024 - 17 July 2024
Learn a new skill.
24 August 2024 - 24 August 2024
Produce a bookmark or piece of text.
11 September 2024 - 11 September 2024
Learn a new skill.
09 October 2024 - 09 October 2024
Create a beautiful decoration.
A memorial church to a bloody battle
A Saxon church built on the Roman site of Viroconium
In a quiet backwater close to Telford
Time limited on road parking around church on St Mary's Place. In town parking available along with Park & Ride options. There are no parking facilities at the church.
Disabled access information
Wheelchair access is possible from the church yard through the west porch door to all areas of the church, with two steps to the sanctuary/altar and Jesse Window.
Steps to chancel from the crossing, Trinity and St Catherine Chapel's. Ramps available for St Catherine's Chapel and into coffee shop.
Facilities & Hire
The cafe at St Mary's Church is currently closed, we will have further information on the re-opening of the cafe soon.
Shrewsbury town centre location, off St Mary's Street.
Nearest railway station: Shrewsbury (15 minutes walk). Bus route numbers 33/435/492.
History & Further Information
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.Shrewsbury St. Mary - Your Church Tour Shropshire County Guide 2012
St Mary's is stewarded on a daily basis Monday to Saturday by a wonderful team of volunteers. To find out more about joining this remarkable team of volunteers, please speak to one of the existing stewards at the church, or contact Robert Milton, 079123 88 985
We will be looking for volunteers to assist with a new and exciting interpretation project linked to the exceptional acclaimed Stained Glass in St Mary's. If you wish to be part of this project please contact Robert Milton on 079123 88 985
All our Shropshire churches are in our North region.
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