St Mary's, Codford
I am David Shaw and as Vice Chairman of the PCC I welcome you on behalf of Bridget Lorimer our Churchwarden, and the PCC, together with our Congregation and Friends, to our beautiful church here at the top of Church Lane in Codford St Mary. The two of us combine lifetimes of business and public service to lead some devoted and hard-working people who make St Mary’s work. Our PCC is privileged to look after a building that has survived and served its community for 750 years and now provides a comfortable and comforting place to worship regularly and, more occasionally in which to marry, to be baptised, to be buried and also to celebrate music and song, melody, verse, oratory and enjoy the provision of a forum for a multitude of other festivities and functions.
On the one hand St Mary’s is a quiet place for prayer and reflection, no more so than during the lockdown periods of the recent pandemic, but on the other a joyful and resounding venue for offering praise and thanksgiving. One of the benefits of parochialism is everyone does know each other and looks after each other. People volunteer readily to help in our church and churchyard, at fundraising events, and other community occasions within the village.
The church is kept clean and tidy, and our flower arrangements are stunning; reading, sides people, refreshment and other rosters are effectively maintained. In fact, a small number of people do a great deal, and their help is much appreciated.
We are, however, a pretty straightforward and ‘conservative’ lot in St Mary’s. Our congregation covers the age bracket 9 to 101 and our inclination is to the traditional, but we have embraced most of the Church of England’s innovations readily and happily. We have moved with the times, and familiarity with ‘new’ orders of service has bred contentment. We do not particularly like noise and ‘happy clappy-ism,’ but can cope with either occasionally; we retain Hymns Ancient and Modern books but we have bought the newer Common Praise to give us more flexibility. Our congregations are not large enough to manage more than one unknown hymn in a service. We are lucky to have a number of visiting organists but made the bold, but prescient, decision a few years ago to replace our defunct organ with a modern, digital one that allows us to play hymns previously recorded on the organ when no human organist is available. We welcome strangers in our midst and enjoy their presence. In essence, St Mary’s is a welcoming church and is a natural focus for an easy-going and happy community.
The church sits on rising ground on the edge of the village overlooking fields in a delightful part of Wiltshire. It seats up to 120 in ancient but comfortable surroundings that provide a joyful venue for weddings and baptisms especially and a serene setting for the end of life too. The church is fitted with a modern sound and loop system and is warm in winter and cool in summer. For half a century our Tenor bell, cast in 1582, has remained silent with a crack but in 2021 this was repaired allowing all three to ring out once again. This was augmented by an electronic chiming mechanism that can be programmed to ring the bells when live bellringers are not available and it is also linked to allow the clock to chime on the hour. The project was funded by private donation and a number of grant-making trusts.
Maintaining the church is a worry, but no different to those of any custodian of an historic building. The PCC is responsible for co-ordinating this maintenance but repairs are paid for, usually, by donations from the Friends of St Mary’s, a benevolent local group of supporters whose fundraising efforts usually cope with any improvements or replacements to the fabric.
The ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) cemetery is adjacent to the church in Church Lane. It is the final resting place of 66 New Zealanders and 31 Australians from World War 1 and we are proud to provide the local link with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who maintains the site so beautifully. The Visitors’ Book in our church bears witness to many peoples’ admiration, not just of the church but for the way it and the surroundings are kept. We get many visitors, including a large number on a pilgrimage from the Antipodes, who have been to the ANZAC site and who comment favourably and movingly.
We look forward to seeing, meeting and welcoming you. Meanwhile, a video tour kindly provided by a well-wisher is above and still photographs are below this introductory piece.
Address and Contact Information
St Mary's Church
Churchwardens: Bridget Lorimer 01985 850201
Photographs of St Mary's, Codford (click an image for a slideshow of larger images)
General Photo Gallery
Palm Sunday in Codford in the rain
The Ormsby Chest
Some fifty years ago, Lt Col M A Ormsby, the then Churchwarden at St Mary’s, lent his military travelling chest to the church to be used for the safe storage of church linen.
Following a reorganisation of the vestry the chest became surplus to requirements. Fortunately Lt Col Ormsby’s son still resides on Codford and so it was with great pleasure that on Friday 13th August 2019 we were able to make contact and arrange for its return to the family home.