Charlbury Parish Church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, has been a place of welcome and spiritual refreshment for over 900 years. Visitors to Charlbury, those walking on the Oxfordshire Way, local residents and others are all welcome here, not only to enjoy the building but to take time to reflect in the peace and stillness of this place.
Holy spaces and places matter to us. They soak up prayer, grief, celebration, worship and joy over the years, and in turn give a space and a place where we can encounter the sense of God’s presence. Here we are reminded of a God who shared this human life with us, with all its joys, challenges and sorrows, and discover hope, healing and the promise of life.
This Church building stands here as a sign of God’s love and of Christ’s presence in the world.
On the outside the building is traditional, but on entering, the visitor finds a modern setting. Your first impression once inside could be that the congregation would appear to be facing ‘the wrong way’. The Parochial Church Council (PCC) took advantage of the major restoration that was needed in the early 1990s to make, what was at that time, a revolutionary change. The reason behind this was to enable as many people as possible to see and hear what was happening during services. The present arrangement allows for great flexibility: services take place in the Chancel, in the Memorial Chapel, and facing the west end of the church. The chairs, unlike the old pews, are moved around as necessary to allow for different needs in addition to services, e.g. Taizé services, exhibitions, concerts, conferences. The restoration and reordering of the Church was completed in 1995.
The entrance doors are in memory of Dr Henry Croly, a much loved General Practitioner in the town for many years. The glass doors were added in 2008 and have been given in memory of David Fowler by his parents.
Parts of the present building date from the 12th century, though a Saxon church may have existed here. This is supported by a list made in about 1015 of the burial places of saints in England, which says that St. Diuma, a 7th century bishop of the Middle Angles and Mercians, ‘rests in the place that is called Ceorlingburh’.
More information about the rest of the church can be found in the church guide.