St Mary the Virgin, Calne
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin stands proudly on the site of an earlier Saxon Minster. Its outer appearance, a skillful blend of stone masons’ art of five centuries, is Perpendicular, a feast of embattled parapets and pinnacles. A mighty 17th Century North Transept Tower replaces the fallen crossing tower. Exploring the interior reveals a transitional Norman Nave surmounted by the 15th Century clerestory covered by a superb wooden roof of the same date. The many treasures of the church range from an early Elizabethan chest to fine early twentieth century Art and Craft screens. In 1994, the Parish celebrated the 750th anniversary of St. Edmund, a former Vicar of Calne, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1234.
Edmund Rich was born at Abingdon when the 12th century was nearing its end. He was the eldest of four children. He enjoyed the privilege of a truly Christian home. It is claimed that he once received a clear vision of the Christ- child who smiled and beckoned him to a life of prayer and service.
Edmund’s education began at a school in nearby Oxford. From there he went to Paris, begging his way there in spite of the wealth which had given his father the name of Rich. Eventually, he returned to Oxford as an eminent leader of learning. It was in 1222 that Edmund became the devoted treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral. The work of building our great cathedral was then in full swing and, by a freak coincidence, Edmund Rich found himself serving as treasurer under a Bishop whose name was Richard Poore! During this period as treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral he was also the vicar of Calne in Wiltshire. In 1233 he was called to the tremendous responsibility of the highest office in the Church of England as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Edmund was no foreign Saint. He was English to the backbone. He loved freedom and hated oppression. In 1240 he left England for the Abbey of Pontigny in France where his predecessors St Thomas of Canterbury and Stephen Langton had found refuge before him. Within a month on November 16th 1240 he died. In 1246 his name was placed among the Saints of the church.
Beneath the high altar in the Abbey of Pontigny is the shrine where rests the holy remains of Edmund Rich. The Abingdon boy, the Oxford scholar, the treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, the parish priest of Calne, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Saint of God.
The organ case and Reredos screen in St Edmund's Chapel were both designed by C.R. Ashbee and carved by Alex Miller. Click here to find out more about Alex Miller.
This is our regular pattern of services . . .but have a look at the calender to check what's happening in the coming days.
Sundays - 8.00 Holy Communion
10.00 Parish Eucharist
Weekdays: Daily Offices, Holy Communion on Wednesdays at 10am
Following installation of CCTV St Mary's is usually open for visitors on Wednesdays and Fridays.
St Mary's Churchyard
The churchyard was closed in 1850. There are no grave location maps for this churchyard.
Current burial registers are held in each of the churches, St Mary’s, Holy Trinity and St Peter’s.
Past burial registers are held in Wiltshire & Swindon History centre, see:-