The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin is the largest of the churches of the Benefice. The church serves a town of some 10,000 inhabitants.
The church is open every day from Monday to Friday to visitors and for private prayer. Due to building works associated with the reordering of the building, it is likely to be necessary to keep the church locked at weekends from October to December 2017, except for Sunday services.
The spire of St Mary’s, towering 205 feet into the air, can be seen from miles around as a welcome to worshippers and visitors.
From the Prospect, adjacent to the churchyard, there are views across the horse shoe bend of the River Wye to Brampton Abbots, and well beyond the boundaries of the Ross Benefice as far as the Welsh Mountains.
Visiting St Mary’s
St Mary’s is open every day during daylight hours (though see note above regarding building work). A member of a team of people on “Church Watch” may well be there to welcome you, if not you are most welcome to look around. A free leaflet is available for visitors to guide them around the church and information panels are located around the building. On street car parking is available all around the church, failing that there are car parks close by. visitor-handout-2016
Most of the present church was built between about 1280 and its dedication in 1316 (blue). By the middle of the fourteenth century the east end had been extended and the tower added, together with the porches to the north and south (green and red). The Markye Chapel on the south side was attached in 1510 (purple). The present ground plan of the church was completed in the nineteenth century with the addition of the organ chamber (yellow).
The building is in the Decorated style, with slender columns and pointed arches. There are six piscinae in the church, indicating that at one time there were six altars.
The stained glass in the east window dates back to 1430, and has an unusual history. Other items of special interest include a small stained glass window above the chancel arch depicting Joseph holding the baby Jesus (an almost unique portrayal), a memorial in the chancel containing a poem written by Sir Walter Raleigh on the eve of his execution, and memorials to John Kyrle, the Man of Ross.
A very full guide to the history of St Mary’s, which includes lists of contents and memorials can be downloaded here: a-history-of-st-marys-ross-on-wye-2016
Facilities for hire
St Mary’s Hall, on the north side of the churchyard, is frequently in use through the week for many community groups. If you are interested in hiring this facility please contact the Benefice Administrator by email or on 01989 562175
St Mary’s Church itself is also available for community use. At present many uses (beyond concerts / drama) are limited by fixtures and fittings in the building (some that are missing and others that are in the way!) However, these shortcomings will soon be overcome in a bold reordering scheme (see below) after which, a wonderful new range of activities will be able to take place in the town’s most precious building.
Reordering of St Mary’s
Over the next few years the interior of St Mary’s will undergo its biggest transformation since the mid nineteenth Century. When complete, the space inside the building will be equipped to support a range of uses and better equipped to serve the town and community both for worship and for secular use.
For detailed information on what’s planned, and to keep up with projects as they progress, please see the dedicated site for the project.
PCC & Electoral Roll
St Mary’s PCC meets every other month of the year starting in January. Mitutes of recent meetings are available here, older ones can be requested of the PCC Secretary:
The Church Electoral Roll is the church’s register of its members; a list of those qualified to attend and to vote on a number of Church matters (locally and nationally).
Renewal of the electoral roll takes place every six years (next renewal is in 2019). In a year of renewal, no names are carried over from the old roll and everyone must make a new application to be included on the new roll.
If you would like to be included on St Mary’s electoral roll please contact Peter Raddenbury or complete a form which you’ll find in church.
Further detailed information on electoral rolls can be found on the Church of England website.