New fundraising initiative launched to support a £3million campaign for Warwick's iconic church

The new initiative is part of a larger fundraising campaign to help restore St Mary's Church

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 12:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 12:57 pm

A fundraising initiative is being established to support the £3 million campaign to help restore and safeguard St Mary's Church in Warwick as it approaches its 900th anniversary.

The Order of St Mary will help to provide a regular stream of income to help secure the future of the fabric, ministry, and music of this much-loved county church of Warwickshire for the 21st century.

The Order is being established to coincide with the 550th anniversary year of the death of another significant figure in the church and the town’s story — Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick who was known as ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’.

Reverend Vaughan Roberts, Vicar of the Collegiate Church of St Mary and Team Rector of Warwick, with a statuette of the Virgin Mary, to whom St Mary's is dedicated and who the Order of St Mary is named after. Photo supplied

Visitors to St Mary’s can see what is thought to be the only depiction of Neville to be made in his lifetime, on the tomb of his father-in-law Richard Beauchamp, the 13th Earl of Warwick.

Membership of The Order of St Mary begins at £500 a year, with a programme of exclusive events and special visits to other places of ecclesiastical, heritage and cultural interest organised for those who join.

The Grade I-Listed Church can trace its history back to 1123, and there is an urgent need to raise £2million to meet the cost of urgent repairs to the landmark tower to avoid its closure to the public.

The original tower was destroyed in the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694, and was rebuilt between 1700 and 1702.

The statuette of Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick — aka Warwick the Kingmaker — on the tomb of his father-in-law Richard Beauchamp. It is the only known depiction of Neville to be made in his lifetime. Photo supplied

It stands over 155ft high and is visible from miles around, making it a focal point for the town as well as offering spectacular views of the surrounding county.

A further £1million is needed to secure the fabric, music and ministry of the church for the 21st century.

Campaign 2023 aims to raise the majority of the fundraising by 2023, to coincide with St Mary's 900th anniversary.

The Reverend Vaughan Roberts, Vicar of St Mary’s and team Rector of Warwick, said: “Joining the Order of St Mary will give people locally and nationally a rewarding opportunity to provide ongoing support to our wonderful and historic church on a number of different levels.

“St Mary’s has a significant place in the history of the town of Warwick, the county of Warwickshire, and indeed our country, and has so many stories to tell, including that of Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick.

“If people know anything about the name Warwick, they will almost certainly know the name Warwick the Kingmaker, by which Neville was known. He was such a power of the land and was closely connected with St Mary's, especially the building of the Beauchamp Chapel, and it is to coincide with his anniversary we have decided to launch the latest element of our fundraising campaign.

“The cost of maintaining our history is substantial and we hope that by establishing the Order of St Mary, and with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, even more people can get involved in our campaign as they return to a more communal life.”

Find out how to join the Order of St Mary by emailing: [email protected]