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Church History:

St. Mary's - Andover - Hampshire - UK
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St. Mary’s is a beautiful 19th century Victorian Gothic building, the third church on this site where God has been worshipped for over a thousand years.  At Andover, in AD 994 King Ethelred the Unready met with the Viking leader Olaf Tryggvason who converted to Christianity here.  Witnessed by the King and his “earldormen”, Olaf was confirmed by Alphege Bishop of Winchester.  He became Norway’s first Christian King, and never invaded England again.  St. Alphege, later Archbishop of Canterbury, was martyred by the Danes.  He is commemorated in the Chapel of our Church Centre. 


After the Norman conquest, the church was granted to the Abbey of St. Florent prés Saumur, which sent a Prior and two monks to look after its interests and minister to the spiritual needs of the townsfolk.  The town, including the church, was burnt down early in the 12th century.  The new church was built at a lower level than the present St. Mary’s, the west door being on Marlborough Street.  Its square tower held a peal of bells, and the church had a clock by 1470.  The interior was very dark, and according to Churchwardens’ records was whitewashed and painted. 


In the 1840s, Dr William Stanley Goddard, retired Headmaster of Winchester College, who lived in Andover, gave the town this beautiful church designed by architect Augustus Livesay.  Old St. Mary’s was demolished, the nave and aisles of the present church being constructed above the old chancel, which is now the crypt. The new chancel and apse were built on ground at the back of the old church, and the flight of steps covered the old nave.  New St. Mary’s was dedicated in 1844, and the tower was completed in 1846.


The church has received many gifts of 19th and 20th century stained glass.  The 21st century Millennium windows depict the beauty of God’s Creation, the Cross, and the River and Tree of Life.  Memorials from old St. Mary’s commemorating local families have been installed in the present building.  The plaque to Henry Hulton in the lobby and his gravestone in the crypt particularly interest American visitors.  He was born in Chester in 1730 and died in Andover in 1790.  He held a number of Crown appointments, his last being First Commissioner of Customs in America from1767-1775.  He did not always agree with the taxes which Parliament obliged him to impose upon the colonists, who eventually revolted forcing himself and his family to return home with few possessions.  Most recently in 2011 two beautiful new stained glass windows were added depicting the importance of Pentecost.


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