St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley

A church has graced the banks of the River Thames in Hurley since Saxon times.

Formerly a Benedictine priory the monk’s traditions of hospitality, care and spiritual renewal still continue to this day. And the chime of St Mary’s bells ring out across the village, as they have for over a millennium.*

St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley

St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley

In 1545 the estates passed to John Lovelace and much of the materials from the Old Priory were used to build the first Ladye Place Mansion. At this time the east end of the church was filled in and repaired to the shape it is today. At the turn of the 17th century, Richard, 1st Baron Lovelace of Hurley, installed the bell turret and the largest bell.

A major restoration took place in 1852 when the large porch over the South West Door was removed. The east end of the church was completely rebuilt and the existing east windows and the bath stone screen behind the Altar were installed.

In 1987, after many years of planning, thought and prayer, the Priory Room extension was built and dedicated by the newly enthroned Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, on 2nd July 1987.

St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley

The Lovelace Memorial was erected c 1605. The left-hand figure is Richard Lovelace esquire (1542-1601), son of John Lovelace, gentleman (c1515-1558).  At his death Richard Lovelace was Lord Lieutenant of the County of Berkshire and Constable of Windosor Castle. An earlier memorial to John Lovelace was destroyed in the 19th century.

The right-hand figure is Sir Richard Lovelace, knight, (1565-1634), son and heir of the other figure. He was knighted in 1599 at Dublin “in ye wars” against the Irish. He was created 1st Lord Lovelace of Hurley by Charles I in 1627. He was High Steward of Maidenhead from 1623 until his death, and was keeper of the rolls or records for the county of Berkshire. He erected this memorial and probably composed the epitaphs.**

St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley

The ancient cross. The wooden cross, which was removed from the tower of St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley, was originally placed in the middle of the Saxon Burial Ground about 1040. It was then thought that it was erected on top of the Priory Bell Tower, and on the dissolution of the priory was re-erected on the tower of the present church, which was the nave of the original priory.

This cross must be one of the oldest wooden crosses in England, and it is now safely placed high up against the East wall of the church.**

St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley

*From a church pamphlet
**From information board within the church

6 Comments CherryPie on Sep 29th 2017

6 Responses to “St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley”

  1. The Yum List says:

    The tombstones remind me of those near the town where I grew up. I wonder if there’s connection to churches.

  2. Bernard (still resting) says:

    I’m intrigued to see that you tag these posts ‘Weekend away’. You manage to collect information in two days that I could in two years!
    Do you know that after living in this area since 1968, I have never been in this church.
    Mind you – I’ve never been in the Olde Bell either. :-)
    No, it’s true. The Black Boy in Hurley Yes. I guess we chaps go for the tastiest beers? Real Ale and all that.
    Hurley to me has always been a place to park the car for a riverside walk, either down the river to Marlow, or upstream to Hambledon and the Flower Pot (pub) at Aston.
    The Flower Pot was a Brakspear’s pub. The beer used to be brewed in Henley using the water from its own well. Now its all gone and converted into trendy homes. The Marlow brewery has gone the same way. All new homes. ;-(
    Just got in from a walk around Marlow this afternoon. I love the River, and today was especially nice as the ‘wedding’ bells from Marlow Church added to the relaxing atmosphere. You may need to come back one day?

    • CherryPie says:

      We had intended to stay in Windsor but as my nephew didn’t know when he was available until a couple of weeks before (due to working shifts), the hotel of choice was unavailable. So we plumped for the second choice hotel, the Olde Bell, which as you know is outside Windsor.

      The hotel was quirky and I am not sure that we would stay there again, but its website provided the following map.

      Me being me I explored all the areas mentioned and was particularly interested in locating the Priory. We found the church but apart from information about the Lovelace memorial and the ancient cross, it did not have any information about its history inside. I researched the church and priory when I got home. I also researched about the tunnel that was mention in the Olde Bell when I got back home. I find the history fascinating.

      We didn’t make it as far as the river on our walk because my mum was suffering with a back problem and I didn’t want to walk her too far. That is also the reason why I picked out smaller properties for us to visit rather than the more obvious ones in the area.

      Mr C and I intend to return to the area to explore it further :-)

  3. Hels says:

    I have seen many paintings with the military hero, state dignitary or high ranked churchman in devotional stances. But less often in three dimensional painted sculptures.

    The idea of having father and son on the The Lovelace Memorial c1605 was an excellent one. Richard Lovelace can be proud that his son Sir Richard Lovelace was following the family tradition of service to the community.

    • CherryPie says:

      This is not the only three dimensional sculptural memorial in this region. They are quite fascinating.

      The Norman Church of St James the Less next to Dorney Court has another fine example (post in preparation).