Nottingham Skyline – St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Church has stood proud in the centre of Nottingham for many centuries, providing not only a religious focal point for the city, but an architectural one as well.
Situated in the city’s Lace Market, St Mary’s Church has been serving the local community for well over 500 years. It was constructed in the early 15th century to meet the needs of Nottingham’s worshippers – a purpose it still retains today.
It is not clear when the church was built, but one of the earliest mentions of the structure was in the Domesday survey of 1086. However, the area was destroyed by fire in 1140 and again 34 years later, so historians believe there may have been several churches constructed over the years.
Various historical surveys of the area have been carried out, and fragments of a previous building in either a Norman or Romanesque building were found under the church as it is today. Many experts believe the current St Mary’s Church was built by the mid-15th century, although the church tower could have followed as many as three decades later.
In its current form, the church boasts a perpendicular style that was typical of the time. It has been constructed in the shape of a Latin cross, complete with ribbed pillars, huge windows and other features that were common in 15th century places of worship.
One of the standout features of St Mary’s Church is its capacity. There is seating for as many as 700 people, which was quite unusual at the time of its construction. St Mary’s is therefore the largest medieval building in Nottingham and has been given Grade I listed status.
The roof of the church is made from ashlar and lead. Several restoration works have been carried out at the site over the years, including the reroofing of the chancel in 1872. The roof of this particular part of the church is interesting because it is trussed, with arch braces on angle corbels.
The parish served by St Mary’s Church has grown considerably over recent years. When the church was first constructed, Nottingham city centre was largely not a residential area. However, new accommodation has since been constructed, bringing an entirely new audience to the church.
It is because of the size of St Mary’s Church that it has played host to many significant congregations and cultural events within the city. Every year when the city elects a new Lord Mayor of Nottingham, and a service is held at the church to mark the occasion.
Local dignitaries often attend services there, including the Lord Mayor, members of the City Council, the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of the County.
St Mary’s Church has also become the university church for the University of Nottingham, while many local schools and colleges also choose it to hold services. In the present day, St Mary’s is a venue for public performances and concerts, as well as worship, showing that the church has continues to move with the times.