History of St Mary the Virgin

In 1044 King Edward the Confessor gave a gift of land to Aelfwine, Bishop of Winchester. The land was by the Windrush, near the king’s palace at Woodstock and the Forest of Wychwood. It remained a base for the bishops of Winchester for several hundred years. Aelfwine’s successors founded the market around which the town grew, and built what became the parish church, St Mary the Virgin. There was probably a Saxon church here, but the first record of the church is in 1142 in the time of Bishop Henry of Blois, an energetic builder of churches. By 1291 the church building was valued for tax at £40 and 8 pence. Witney was a prosperous market town and a centre for the wool trade. As the town grew, rich citizens began to fund decorations and additional building in their church.

Here are two website resources which set out the rich history of St Mary the Virgin, which has been serving Witney since 1243

This year from September 2018 – September2019 we celebrate our 775th anniversary of the rededication of Saint Mary’s Witney – as a new church was blessed. Back in 1243 there was a feast (the bishop gave two deer to roast) and so began the next chapter in the history of this beautiful town. Much has changed in those 775 years. 

But much remains the same. Our primary calling is to be a house of prayer – a place where people can come in all the seasons of their lives to give thanks, to laugh, to weep and to offer our sacrifice of praise. This space is also, vitally, one of hospitality. We are committed to recapturing the medieval vision of this being a place without boundaries where all are welcome

Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019

Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019

Click here to download The Exploring Spirituality Programme 2019 booklet ESP 2019 v2

Ness's Sermon 13-01-19

Click here to download Ness's Sermon 13th Jan 2019

775 Sermon Series

Do join us as we celebrate our 775th Anniversary with a series of sermons:


    Sept 9th The Rev'd Toby Wright A Christlike Church
    The sermon text is here: Feast 2018
    Oct 7th The Ven Judy French A Servant Church
    Dec 9th The Rev'd Dr Joanna Collicutt A Pondering Church The sermon text is here: Advent 2 2018


CHANGED DATE: Feb 3rd Baroness Caroline Cox A Courageous Church • Feb 17th The Rev'd Helen Cameron A United Church • Mar 10th The Rt Rev'd Steven Croft A Learning Church • Apr 21st Fr Stephen Tucker A Resurrection Church • May 5th The Rt Rev'd Chris Lowson A Kingdom Church • Jun 16th Sr Stella CSMV A Contemplative Church • Jul 7th The Team Vicar A Creation Church • Aug 4th Robin Brunner-Ellis A Renewing Church • Sep 8th The Rt Rev'd Colin Fletcher A Missional Church

Witney Flower Festival 2019

Plans are well in hand for the Witney Flower Festival 2019 which takes place 5th to 7 July 2019. Full details to be posted here over the next few months.

In the meantime please do take a look at this video of the 2016 Flower Festival which reminds us all of what to expect next summer.

Witney Wonderland

We have teamed up with a local charity, Joss Searchlight and a number of generous sponsors to host the first Witney Wonderland Festival in the church. Expect to find St Mary's full of christmas trees, each individually decorated to reflect what Christmas means to different parts of our community. There will also be a fantastic Christmas scene to delight children of all ages.

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, our Carol services will be extra special this year; we'll be hosting a number of local schools as well as the Mayoress's Carol service on December 14th and the service of lessons and carols on Christmas Eve. There'll also be a number of special events throughout December, including concerts, bands, sing a long film nights, community vocal and dance groups and even a special visit from Santa. Find out more by visiting witneywonderland.co.uk

Raise the roof

Severe winter frosts have destroyed the limestone slates on St Mary’s Roof. We need to replace them before winter sets in. Local Witney people have already sponsored 2,200 slates. Only 1,800 slates to go!!

Please Sponsor a Slate for £10. Your civic landmark church needs you!

Donate with JustGiving and PayPal

Please find out more


Annual Accounts

Our stewardship enables us to fulfil God's call and share in God's mission

The Church is the new creation, it is life and joy, it is the sacramental fellowship in which we share the ultimate purpose of God, made real for us now in our hearing the Word and sharing the Sacrament.
Rowan Williams

Click here to view the Witney Parish 2017 Annual Report and Accounts

Annual Review 2017