Make your own free website on

A Brief History of St. Mary's Thorpe

The Nineteenth Century

Home Page
Early Days and Saxon Period
From the Normans to the Tudors
The Reformation and Beyond
The Nineteenth Century
The Twentieth Century and Today's Church
Notables and the Churchyard
About Us and How to Make Contact

Victorian masonry on the north side of St. Mary's

One of many Victorian windows in the church


Nineteenth Century

In the Victorian era the church prospered under its royal patronage and that of the Lords of the Manor. The Prince Consort took a personal interest, encouraging the work at St. Mary's by allowing masons from Windsor Castle to carry out various building works, mainly maintenance and repair. The most complete and visible examples are to the external walls of the north and south aisles. Regardless of whether the attribution of personal interest from Windsor, the use of the same masons on sites so close would be quite usual.

This re-ordering of the church included substantial changes to the Churchyard and surrounding areas, and is marked by the remaining Victorian stained glass in the windows of the North and South transepts. Pictures of the Victorian interior can be seen in the link passageway between the Church and the newly refurbished Rutherwyke Room.

Among the vestments at the church is a set in black for the priest's use which is "Victoriana in extremis" being, it is said, the work of Queen Victoria herself. It is however in a delicate state and would fit only clergy of very small stature. Although the Queen is usually felt to have been of a firm evangelical persuasion in Church of England terms, the chasuble has an Italianate "fiddle-back" shape suggestive of rather "higher" things!  The silk lining to the garment is, it is alleged, made up of the silk left over from that orginally purchased for the underwear of  her Lady-in-Waiting.

The churchyard contains many interesting nineteenth grave sites and memorials, including that of a young man drowned in the River Thames and buried by popular appeal without, it is said, any official authority. The remains of Capt. Hardy, Nelson's friend, are buried allegedly outside the East End. A memorial depicting an angel is said to be a portrait of Christina Rossetti, the author of "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" and other well-known hymns. Dr. Baty's view is that it is more likely to be a stock item taking its inspiration from the many portraits of Jane Burden, the wife of William Morris. Certainly the hairstyle suggests this, although commonplace for the period. Jane Burden was a popular model among the Pre-Raphaelites.

Choir stalls in the Chancel