History of St Mary the Virgin

In 1044 King Edward the Confessor gave a gift of land to Aelfwine, Bishop of Winchester. The land was by the Windrush, near the king’s palace at Woodstock and the Forest of Wychwood. It remained a base for the bishops of Winchester for several hundred years. Aelfwine’s successors founded the market around which the town grew, and built what became the parish church, St Mary the Virgin. There was probably a Saxon church here, but the first record of the church is in 1142 in the time of Bishop Henry of Blois, an energetic builder of churches. By 1291 the church building was valued for tax at £40 and 8 pence. Witney was a prosperous market town and a centre for the wool trade. As the town grew, rich citizens began to fund decorations and additional building in their church.

Here are two website resources which set out the rich history of St Mary the Virgin, which has been serving Witney since 1243

This year from September 2018 – September2019 we celebrate our 775th anniversary of the rededication of Saint Mary’s Witney – as a new church was blessed. Back in 1243 there was a feast (the bishop gave two deer to roast) and so began the next chapter in the history of this beautiful town. Much has changed in those 775 years. 

But much remains the same. Our primary calling is to be a house of prayer – a place where people can come in all the seasons of their lives to give thanks, to laugh, to weep and to offer our sacrifice of praise. This space is also, vitally, one of hospitality. We are committed to recapturing the medieval vision of this being a place without boundaries where all are welcome
 

Christmas 2018 Services

Christmas 2018 Services

Mayoress's Carol Service, St Mary's, 14th December, 7pm

    Carol Service, St John's Hailey, 16th December, 6pm
    Candlelit Carol Service, St John's Curbridge, 16th December, 6pm
    A Traditional Service of Lessons & Carol, Holy Trinity, 22nd December, 6pm
    Crib Service, St Mary's, 24th December, 3pm
    Carol Service, St Mary's, 24th December, 6pm
    Midnight Mass, All churches except Curbridge, 11.30pm
    Christmas Day, St Mary's and Holy Trinity, 10.45am
    Christmas Day, St John's Hailey, St John's Curbridge and St Kenelm's Minster Lovell, 9.15am

775 Sermon Series

Do join us as we celebrate our 775th Anniversary with a series of sermons:

2018

    Sept 9th The Rev'd Toby Wright A Christlike Church
    The sermon text is here: Feast 2018
    Oct 7th The Ven Judy French A Servant Church
    Dec 9th The Rev'd Dr Joanna Collicutt A Pondering Church

2019

• Jan 6th Baroness Caroline Cox A Courageous Church • Feb 17th The Rev'd Helen Cameron A United Church • Mar 10th The Rt Rev'd Steven Croft A Learning Church • Apr 21st Fr Stephen Tucker A Resurrection Church • May 5th The Rt Rev'd Chris Lowson A Kingdom Church • Jun 16th Sr Stella CSMV A Contemplative Church • Jul 7th The Team Vicar A Creation Church • Aug 4th Robin Brunner-Ellis A Renewing Church • Sep 8th The Rt Rev'd Colin Fletcher A Missional Church

"The Son of God"

He was born in a barn, his father a carpenter, and his mother a decent woman. but they were of no significance, and certainly couldn't have afforded to give the boy a private education.
And yet, as a teenager, he was arguing the toss with his elders and betters in the council chambers.
He never got a proper job, just roamed around the countryside, unshaven, and living off bread and water and the occasional fish.
while offering his opinions to those who cared to listen.
He became the manager Of a football team known as The Disciples, not one of them a Star,
in fact, the twelfth man rather let the side down by accepting a transfer fee of thirty pieces of silver to play for the opposition.
The authorities eventually arrested him as a rabble-rouser, but couldn't decide what to charge him with,
other than the fact he claimed he was the Son of God.
They strung him up with a couple of criminals, and when he finally gave up the ghost,
rather assumed that would be the last they'd hear of him.

by Jeffrey Archer

The Disciples were relegated at the end of the season,
in fact, the captain denied on more than one occasion that he'd ever been a member of His team.
When He died at the age of thirty-three, there were no obituaries in the local press reporting his achievements,
no glossy supplements highlighting his colourful career,
no radio programmes to discuss his legacy, and no box sets recording any of his miracles.
But then, He'd never relied on focus groups to advise him on current trends,
or advertising gurus to spend millions promoting his brand,
or spin doctors to sharpen his image, and he didn't require social media to keep his followers up to date,
so you could be forgiven for assuming he'd be forgotten in a few days.
So how can one explain that over two thousand years later, Jesus Christ is still the best-known celebrity on earth?
Could it just be that He was the Son of God?

Witney Flower Festival 2019

Plans are well in hand for the Witney Flower Festival 2019 which takes place 5th to 7 July 2019. Full details to be posted here over the next few months.

In the meantime please do take a look at this video of the 2016 Flower Festival which reminds us all of what to expect next summer.

Witney Wonderland

We have teamed up with a local charity, Joss Searchlight and a number of generous sponsors to host the first Witney Wonderland Festival in the church. Expect to find St Mary's full of christmas trees, each individually decorated to reflect what Christmas means to different parts of our community. There will also be a fantastic Christmas scene to delight children of all ages.

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, our Carol services will be extra special this year; we'll be hosting a number of local schools as well as the Mayoress's Carol service on December 14th and the service of lessons and carols on Christmas Eve. There'll also be a number of special events throughout December, including concerts, bands, sing a long film nights, community vocal and dance groups and even a special visit from Santa. Find out more by visiting witneywonderland.co.uk

Raise the roof

Severe winter frosts have destroyed the limestone slates on St Mary’s Roof. We need to replace them before winter sets in. Local Witney people have already sponsored 2,200 slates. Only 1,800 slates to go!!

Please Sponsor a Slate for £10. Your civic landmark church needs you!

Donate with JustGiving and PayPal

Please find out more

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Annual Accounts

Our stewardship enables us to fulfil God's call and share in God's mission

The Church is the new creation, it is life and joy, it is the sacramental fellowship in which we share the ultimate purpose of God, made real for us now in our hearing the Word and sharing the Sacrament.
Rowan Williams

Click here to view the Witney Parish 2017 Annual Report and Accounts

Annual Review 2017