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Stafford St Mary

"St Mary's Church, the mother church of St Mary's Parish, stands in the central part of the town, and was formerly collegiate. It is a large and magnificent fabric, and is one of the handsomest parish churches in the county. It is a cruciform structure, with a lofty octagonal tower.
St Mary's is both a discharged rectory and a perpetual curacy. The rectory is in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor, and incumbency of the Rev E Coldwell, MA, who is also a rural dean, and vicar of Sandon. The perpetual curacy is in the patronage of the Rector, and incumbency of the Rev Robert Temple."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Bibliography

'Views of the Church of St Mary at Stafford, with an Account of its Restoration,
& Materials for its History'

by John Masfen the Younger
Published 1852, London.

'The Church of St Mary, Stafford'
by Anon
Published 1920, by SPCK, London. (Notes on Famous Churches & Abbeys, No 15)

'The Collegiate Church of St Mary, Stafford'
by Anon
Published 1969, by British Publishing Co, Gloucester.

'The Story of St Mary's Church, Stafford'
by Lionel Lambert.
Published by RW Hourd, Stafford, No Date.

'St Mary's and the College Quarter of Stafford'
by Lionel Lambert.
Published 1925, by Cornish Bros, Birmingham.

'A Short History of the College of Stafford'
by Lionel Lambert.
Published 1923, by Billing, Guildford.

'The Royal Free Chapel of Stafford'
by Lionel Lambert.
Published 1925, by Lomax's Successors, Lichfield.

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Cemeteries

A transcript of the Monumental Inscriptions of St Mary, Stafford, has been published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

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Church History

St Mary's Church, was formerly a royal free chapel and collegiate, with a dean and twelve canons. It is a large and very fine cruciform building of stone, in the Transitional, Early English, and later styles, with slight indications of Norman work at the west end. It consists of a chancel with five bays, nave with five bays, aisles, transepts, south porch and an embattled central tower containing eleven bells and a clock and chimes.
The whole of the nave and its aisles, and the lower part of the tower, are in the earliest Pointed style, and probably date from the late 12th century. The south transept is of a later date, in the more mature Early Pointed style, the south aisle of the chancel, which has an angle turret, and the chancel itself, are of a later period. The north aisle of the chancel, and the north transept, are Early Decorated style. The upper part of the tower is in the Decorated style and was formerly surmounted by a spire, which was blown down in a storm in 1593-4.
In the late 15th or early 16th century, a clerestory, with richly moulded roof, was substituted for the previous high pitched roof of the nave, and at the same time, a clerestory was added to the north transept.
The church was restored in 1844-5 under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott, RA, and during 1877-79 was further restored. In 1887, a carillon playing fourteen tunes, three new bells, and a set of Westminster quarter chimes were fitted in the tower.

The College of St Mary, or College of Stafford, was founded before the Norman Conquest. It was dissolved in the first of Edward VI, and at that time consisted of a dean and thirteen prebendaries, and possessed considerable property, a small portion of which was granted to the Grammar School, by Edward VI, and the rest was granted by Elizabeth I to the Corporation of Stafford, in trust for the support of the rector and curate of St Mary's.

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Church Records

Church of England Registers
The register of St Mary, Stafford, commenced in 1559. The original registers for the period 1559-1980 (Bapts), 1559-1976 (Mar) & 1559-1894 (Bur), and Banns for the period 1823-1840 & 1853-1857 are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts for the period 1673-1868 (with many gaps) are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.

A transcripts of the registers for the period 1559-1671 was published by the Staffordshire Parish Register Society in 1936 and has been reprinted by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

Nonconformist Church Registers
Records of Nonconformist churches in Stafford can be found on the Stafford page.

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[Last updated: 14th May 2000, Mike Harbach.  © 1999, 2000]