St Mark's Church, Swindon

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St Mark's Church, Swindon
St Mark's Church, Swindon, from the southeast
St Mark's Church, Swindon is located in Wiltshire
St Mark's Church, Swindon
St Mark's Church, Swindon
Location in Wiltshire
Coordinates: 51°33′40″N 1°47′41″W / 51.5612°N 1.7947°W / 51.5612; -1.7947
OS grid reference SU 143 847
Location Church Place, Swindon, Wiltshire
Country England
Denomination Anglican
Churchmanship Traditional Catholic
Website St Mark. Swindon
Dedication Saint Mark
Dedicated 25 April 1845
Status Parish church
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade II
Designated 2 October 1951
Architect(s) Scott and Moffatt, Temple Moore
Architectural type Church
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1843
Completed 1897
Spire height 140 feet (43 m)
Materials Limestone, roofed in tiles and lead
Parish Swindon New Town
Deanery Swindon
Archdeaconry Malmesbury
Diocese Bristol
Province Canterbury
Priest(s) Fr Dexter Bracey
Churchwarden(s) John Bishop, Julie Emmett
Parish administrator Karen Vermeersch

St Mark's Church is in Church Place, Swindon, Wiltshire, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Swindon, the archdeaconry of Malmesbury, and the diocese of Bristol. Its benefice is united with those of St Aldhelm, Swindon, St Luke, Swindon, and St Saviour, Swindon, to form the benefice of Swindon New Town.[1] The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.[2]


St Mark's was built to serve workers of the Great Western Railway, whose Swindon Works were nearby. George Henry Gibbs, the head of the firm of Anthony Gibbs and Sons, died in 1842, and bequeathed £500 towards building a church and a school in the town. In February 1843, the railway company appealed for contributions from the public, and a total of £6,000 (£520,000 in 2015)[3] was raised to build the church.[4] The church was designed by George Gilbert Scott and William Moffatt, and built between 1843 and 1845.[2] It was dedicated to St Mark on 25 April 1845, St Mark's Day.[4] In 1897 Temple Moore added a north vestry.[2]



The church is constructed in limestone with roofs of tiles and lead. Its plan consists of a five-bay nave with a clerestory, a north aisle and a south aisle with a three-bay chapel, a south porch, a three-bay chancel with a south chapel and a north vestry, and a north steeple opposite the porch. It is in Decorated Gothic style. The tower is in four stages, and has a north door, angle buttresses, and two-light louvred bell openings. It is surmounted by a crocketted spire with lucarnes rising to 140 feet (43 m). At the west end of the nave is a doorway and a window with five lights containing curvilinear tracery. Along the sides of the aisles are two-light windows with tracery in varying styles. The east window in the chancel has three lights.[2]


Inside the church, the arcades are carried on quatrefoil piers. The nave has a hammerbeam roof, and the roof of the chancel is barrel vaulted. The stained glass includes windows by Kempe.[2] The pipe organ was built in 1922 by Jardine of Manchester. It was rebuilt in 1961 by Percy Daniel of Clevedon. In 1973 the organ was destroyed by fire and Persy Daniel replaced it with a three-manual organ moved from a redundant church in the north of England.[5] There is a ring of eight bells. Six of these were cast in 1904 by Llewellins and James, and the other two in 1927 by Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.[6]

Musical tradition[edit]

St Mark's has a long tradition of performing choral music in the style of an English cathedral. The choir sings at the weekly Parish Mass and at other services, has a repertoire of over 30 masses, and has recorded two CDs.[7] In 1944 Benjamin Britten composed his Festival Te Deum for the centenary of the church, where it was first performed on 24 April 1945.[8][9] While Mr. Britten attended the rehearsal, earlier in the day, he declined to attend the performance due to the poor quality of the performers.[citation needed]


  1. ^ St Mark, Swindon, Church of England, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d e Historic England, "Church of St Mark, Swindon (1355898)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  3. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  4. ^ a b A Brief History of S. Mark's Church, Parish of Swindon New Town, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  5. ^ Wiltshire Swindon, St. Mark, Church Place, New Town )N10283), British Institute of Organ Studies, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  6. ^ Swindon, S Mark, Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  7. ^ Our History, St Mark's Choir, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  8. ^ Britten, Benjamin: Festival Te Deum, Boosey & Hawkes, retrieved 17 November 2013 
  9. ^ Festival Te Deum in E, Op 32, Hyperion Records, retrieved 17 November 2013