7 St Mary The Virgin

St.Mary The Virgin Church:


St.Mary The Virgin Church Dover
St. Mary the Virgin, the parish church, is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.  The two lower stages of the very fine tower are early Norman dating from circa1100 and the three upper stages later Norman, circa 1150 displaying lovely relief carving.  Note the 17th century sundial on the south face.

St Mary the Virgin Church Dover

St.Mary The Virgin Church, pre 1843 restoration
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Unfortunately, from 1843 to1844 much of the medieval building was demolished as the foundations had become unsafe because of the number of burials in the church and it was rebuilt in Victorian Gothic style. Some Norman pillars and arches were taken down and re-erected at the west end of the nave.  The font is Norman and two Gothic arches and pillars survive on the north side of the chancel.  There are 17th century brasses, Georgian memorials and glass, which includes the memorial window to the victims of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in 1987. Remains of a Roman building lie under the west end and part of the churchyard.

St.Mary The Virgin Church Dover

St.Mary The Virgin Church, pre 1843 restoration
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The church of St Mary-the-Virgin is recognised as the seafarers’ church. Parts are said to be around 950 years old and it’s had a fascinating history. On one of his regular visits to Dover, King Henry VIII (breaking away from the Roman Catholic faith) ordered the closure of St. Mary’s. But the townsfolk appealed to their king and pointed out all the work they were doing to keep the port open for the king’s ships. He accepted their plea and gave the church to the people of Dover. As a result the election of the town’s mayor was for centuries carried out at a ceremony in the church, but today the mayor is elected at the Town Hall.

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