History

Our church has a rich history and is one of the last few remaining historic buildings that once formed the historic village of St Mary Cray.  Today St Mary Cray is much more developed and populated, drawing a range of residents from all social strata and attracting visitors to the local shopping centre, the Nugent Shopping Park.  

This Medieval parish church is designated a Grade II* listing as it has retained considerable early fabric, especially internally and has high quality masonry and a beautiful flint facing that was applied during the 19th century restoration. The church also has some lovely brasses.  

The church has a simple traditional layout.  The West Tower and the South and North Nave arches date back to the early 13th century.  The aisles were rebuilt in the 14th century with further work done on the chancel in the 15th century. Included in the church is an early 16th century side chapel, the Hodsoll Chapel. This is used for special laying of hands prayers during our 10.00 am Sunday communion services.

Bells have been ringing at St Mary’s since 1583. The present ring of six bells was installed in 1913 and is hung for full circle change ringing in the traditional style. The bells continue to be rung regularly for Sunday morning worship, weddings and special services. Bell practice is every Thursday evening new members are welcome
St Mary’s is an ‘open’ tower and welcomes visiting bands on a regular basis. The bells are easy to ring and provide an ideal learning venue for District practices, bell handling lessons and competitions. Typically quarter peals (about 45 minutes ringing) are attempted at least once a month and full peals of around three hours duration about twice each year.

As a Grade II* listed building, St Mary’s needs caring preservation as a place of Christian worship and also as part of our national heritage.  Time has taken its toll on the building and restoration work is underway work.   The most pressing need is the renovation of our spire. The cedar shingles are deteriorating rapidly so the spire is no longer fully weather proof which has also lead to infestation by pigeons.  This has put the bells at risk and will compromise the rest of the church, if not fixed soon.  We have received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and are also undertaking our own fundraising activities.