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