ACOUSTIC TRIANGLE 2005 TOUR
ST. MARY'S CHURCH, BANBURY, OXFORDSHIRE
The present Church is a late Georgian building erected in the last
decade of the 18th Century and consecrated in September 1797. Its
predecessor was a splendid mediaeval church which had fallen into
disrepair and had become dangerous. Part of the old church collapsed one
Sunday morning in April 1790 with the tower adding itself to the rubble
the following day. Financial constraints delayed the completion of the
new church and the "pepper pot' tower was not completed until 1822.
As designed by the architect, Samuel Pepys Cockerill, the building was a
perfect square with sides 90 feet long. It is thought to have been
modelled on Sir Christopher Wren's St. Stephen's Church, Walbrook,
which, like this building, has a dome supported by twelve classical
columns. Originally the gallery ran round the four sides and the church
was able to accommodate 3,000.
Extensive alterations were made in the mid-19th century under the
influence of the Tractarian movement. In 1858 the eastern gallery was
removed and in 1873 the whole east end was reconstructed to the design
of Sir Arthur Blomfield, and richly coloured. Blomfield's decorative
scheme has now gone, apart from the figures in the chancel which are
painted in imitation mosaic and a small detail by the door into the
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 at Banbury. Tombstones bearing this name have not survived
from that period, but there are modern examples present.
During the winter 2001/2 the chancel was extended forward to create a
stage, facilities for those with disabilities were added, emergency
lighting and toilets were added and the church was redecorated. St.
Mary's is now both a place of worship and a resource to the community
for performing arts.
Thanks to Graeme Stansfield and Matthew and Michele Hunter, Live Arts programmer for setting
up this concert.
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