Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury

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Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury
Bury Parish Church.jpg
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury is located in Greater Manchester
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury
Location in Greater Manchester
Coordinates: 53°35′38″N 2°17′50″W / 53.5940°N 2.2971°W / 53.5940; -2.2971
OS grid reference SD 80433 10863
Location The Rock, Bury,
Greater Manchester
Country England
Denomination Anglican
Website Bury Parish Church
Founded 971 CE
Dedication Virgin Mary
Consecrated Candlemas 1976
Status Parish church
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade I
Designated 13 July 2006
Architect(s) J. S. Crowther
(1870 rebuild)
Architectural type Church
Completed 1876
Length 141 feet (43.0 m)
Nave width 30 feet (9.1 m)
Height 76 feet (23.2 m)
Materials Dressed stone exterior partially lined in brick
Slate roof
Bells Eight
Deanery Bury
Archdeaconry Bolton
Diocese Manchester
Province York
Rector Vacant
Assistant priest(s) Revd. Rhiannon Jones
Director of music Marc Murray
Organist(s) Elin Rees

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin is located at the highest point in the town centre of Bury, Greater Manchester, England. The church is located on the edge of the town centre, and is just a few minutes walk from the towns bus and tram station, as well as the Millgate Shopping Centre and the newly built The Rock. The main body of the church was completed on the 2nd February 1876, the steeple predates it to 1842. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.[1]

The church is the garrison church of the Lancashire Fusiliers, and services are held for the garrison on Remembrance Sunday, Gallipoli Sunday and on other occasions.


The interior of the church

Church records suggest that the first church was built on the site in 971 A.D. when parishes were first formed by King Edgar of England, although this is likely to have been a wood and thatch structure. Churches of this type of construction are thought to have been used until a church in the gothic style was completed in 1585. Between 1773 and 1780 the main body of this church was demolished and rebuilt leaving only the spire from the original church. The spire was replaced in 1842 but by 1870 the wood in the rest of the church had rotted and a new building was needed. The new church designed by the architect J. S. Crowther, leaving the 1842 spire in place, was officially opened on Candlemas Day 1876.[2]

In July 2013, the church was the scene of a military funeral for murdered British soldier Lee Rigby. The service was attended by thousands of mourners, including Prime Minister David Cameron.[3]


The building is of dressed stone with slate roofs. To the north side is an apsidal chapel with vestry and organ chamber, and to the south a Lady Chapel. The nave and aisles are of four bays. The narthex has a pitched roof at right angles to that of the nave, and its south end forms the main entrance porch to the church. To the west of the narthex is a heavily buttressed, 3-stage tower, surmounted by a broach spire with lucarnes. The heads of the 2-light windows in the apse, clerestory and aisles all have geometrical tracery, and there are small rose windows with similar tracery in the gables at the west end of the nave and both ends of the narthex.[4]

The interior is of "very lofty proportions" and is lined in exposed brick with stone dressings. The roof, a fine combination of hammerbeam and tie-beam is carried by an arcade with clustered columns.[4] The chancel floor and the aisles in the nave are adorned with brightly coloured mosaic and Minton tiles. The sanctuary contains a late C19 painted and gilded reredos, topped with a carving of the pelican in her piety. The apse is enriched with painted panels (1888). There is also much fine woodwork including the choir stalls, many intricately carved with small figures, and a tall architectural cover to the stone font. The stained glass in the apse and in the Lady Chapel is by Hardman, while the windows of the nave are by Clayton and Bell. The tower contains a group of 19th century memorials, including one with a walrus and elephant commemorating Lieutenants Robert and George Hood (d 1821 and 1823). The church is a very fine example of Crowther's work, displaying his great skill in the design of timberwork and enthusiasm for mosaic floors.[4]

The clock in the tower was the gift of Henry Whitehead, formerly High Sheriff of Lancashire.


The tradition of the choir at Bury Parish Church remains as integral as it was when it first began. The choir consists of a strong adult section accompanied by an ever expanding junior choir which is trained in weekly music theory as well as for the various national choral awards. The choir has travelled the country with recent tours to Windsor Castle, Worcester Cathedral, Edinburgh Cathedral and Bristol Cathedral. A visit to Canterbury Cathedral took place in 2013. The choristers perform bi-annually in "Come and Sing" performances of Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem, with soloists chosen from the choir members. Recently the choir was heralded as 'best looking choristers in the country,' with special mention made of the meticulousness of the soprano and alto sections.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Historic England. "Parish Church of St Mary, Bury (1067236)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "The History of Bury Parish Church". Bury Parish Church. Retrieved 8 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "Lee Rigby: Military funeral for killed soldier". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 May 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c "Historic England". Retrieved 8 May 2017. 

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