Banbury St Mary, Banbury

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St Mary's Church is the historic parish church for the market town of Banbury, just moments away from the Banbury Cross, made famous in the nursery rhyme 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross'.  

The present building dates from the 1790s, replacing the earlier medieval church and is shared by the Church of England and the United Reformed Church. Designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerill, it is thought to be modelled on Wren's St. Stephen's, Walbrook. The exterior is iconic, with the 'pepper pot' tower being added and significant other changes in 1822.  The bells are a familiar sound in the town and we are always looking to recruit volunteers to ring our wonderful bells.  The interior really is both extremely impressive and unusual.

Chancel Paintings
Above the High Altar - in the dome of the apse, is depicted the Vision of the Throne of God from Revelation chapter 4: the rainbow, the four and twenty elders, the four living creatures and the seven lamps symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Behind the High Altar are the figures of the Twelve Apostles with appropriate symbols of their calling or martyrdom.

Stained Glass
The upper windows in the gaIlery represent scenes from the life of Jesus - 30 illustrations in all, while the lower windows illustrate 10 of his parables. The detailed background in all the windows well repays attention. 

In the second upper window on the north side is the well-known Arctic window in memory of the explorer Admiral Sir George Back, which contains sketches from his notebook - H.M.S. Terror caught in the ice, Eskimos, polar bears, seals, reindeer, walrus and a surround of snow flakes. 

"The Treacle Bible
The Bishops' Bible was first published in 1586 and is sometimes known as the 'treacle' Bible because of a text in Jeremiah 22 v 8. Instead of the more usual Authorized Version which says 'Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no phisition there?' this Bible substitutes 'treyacle' for 'balm'. The word 'treacle' properly means an antidote against the bite of wild beasts. The Bible was donated to the parish by John Alington in 1705 and is considerably older than the building itself. This information is copied from the text placed on the glass case enclosing the Bible.

The Resurrection Chapel
This chapel on the left perpetuates the name of the Chapel from the mediaeval church. It contains several war memorials and a Lamp of Brotherhood brought from Monte Cassino in 1964, one of 84 throughout the world and the first in this country.

Built by Byfield, Wilcox and Knight in 1765 for the old church. Since then it has been heavily modified several times. It bears the name of Snetzler but there is no evidence for this attribution. It is not the only Byfield organ linked to the name of the famous organ builder.

Outside the church
It is believed that Jonathan Swift hints in the preface to the 1726 edition of Gulliver's Travels that he had taken the name of Gulliver from tombstones in the Churchyard - no tombstones exist of that name today.

Parish boundary view Bird's eye view

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Kate Hirons
c/o St Mary's Church Centre, Horse Fair, Banbury OX16 0AA
(01295) 253329 (Church Administrator)

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CofE Said Communion
Quiet service, words used alternates between traditional language Book of Common Prayer and the more modern Common Worship.
Every Sunday at 8:00 AM for 40 minutes
Book of Common Prayer Common Worship
CofE Parish Communion
A respectful, but relaxed atmosphere and we aim to give you a warm welcome. Our All Age Service is on the first Sunday when we may also be welcoming recently baptised children. On other Sundays, we have Adventurers for Primary School aged children and serve refreshments after the service in the St Mary's Church Centre.
Every Sunday at 9:30 AM for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Family Friendly Creche Sunday School Refreshments Common Worship
URC Morning Worship
Morning Worship for the United Reformed Church congregation. Communion 1st Sunday of each month.
The URC congregation join with the 9.30 Anglican congregation during August.
Every Sunday at 11:15 AM for 1 hour
Family Friendly Creche Refreshments


Morning Prayer
Every Monday at 7:00 AM for ½ hour


Morning Prayer
Every Tuesday at 7:00 AM for ½ hour


Morning Prayer
Every Wednesday at 7:00 AM for ½ hour


Morning Prayer
Every Thursday at 7:00 AM for ½ hour
Mid-week said Holy Communion
2nd Thursday of each month. Weekly from the second week of January 2017.
Every second Thursday at 10:30 AM for 35 minutes
Refreshments Common Worship



Wheelchair accessible toilets

(Hymn Books / Orders of Service etc.)

Assistance dogs (eg guide dogs, hearing dogs, dogs for the disabled) welcome
Stained Glass Wall Paintings Floodlight

Church Open Until end-October 2008: Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm. From November 2008 until March 2009: Friday 11am-3pm Saturday 10am-4pm Hall for Hire Contact Church Administrator 01295 253329
Other information
A Church Near You ID (venue number): 21
Built: 1797
Architect: Samuel Pepys Cockerill
Style of worship: Central
Archdeaconry: Dorchester (274)
Deanery: DEDDINGTON (27405)
Benefice: Banbury (27/032BR)
Parish Legal Name: Banbury St. Mary (270130 )
CofE Church Info: (627130 27/130)
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The current editor is: Philip Cochrane

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This page was last updated on Tuesday 4th April 2017
Banbury St Mary : Horse Fair, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 0AA

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