St Mary’s was built between 1840 and 1842 under the personal direction of Sarah Losh. She based the form of the church on a Roman basilica, a rectangular nave with a semicircular apse, a building type that was used by the first Christians for worship and which Sarah had seen on her ‘grand tour’ of the Continent.
It is one of the most interesting buildings in England. In the history of the architectural crafts and their revival in the 19th century it is unique – Rosemary Hill, Romantic Affinities, Craft Magazine
This simple building form was at odds with the prevailing English Gothic style, but it suited Sarah’s modest technical skills and budget. Her workforce was drawn from local labour, including the stonemason William Hindson and his son. Even Sarah’s gardener put his hand to carving the decoration around the door.
Within this simple building Sarah created a highly original work – the product of her exuberant imagination. The church is full of symbolic ornament and carvings some of which Sarah carried out herself. St Mary’s embodies many of the attributes of the Arts and Crafts Movement and yet predates it by some 30 years.
We have produced a guide to St Mary’s which is available within the church or you can download a copy here.
Due to the design of St Mary’s, wheelchair access is limited to the font area only, from where the entire church can be viewed.