The Church of St Mary the Less

Now the chapel of St. John’s College, the church of St. Mary The Less was founded in the 12th century as a garrison chapel for soldiers stationed on the nearby city walls.

Its name is believed to have been chosen to distinguish it from Durham Cathedral, which is dedicated to Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St. Cuthbert of Durham.

Features include a rare 13th century sculpture depicting Jesus Christ and a memorial to the ‘Little Count’ Joseph Boruwlaski (1739-1837), a Polish-born dwarf who entertained European courts and lived in a house close to the church.

His Royal Highness, Charles Prince of Wales is directly connected to the church through his seven times great grandmother, Dame Elizabeth Bowes (1651-1736). She and two of her daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, are buried in a vault in the chapel.

Sadly it was closed, as were many of the churches when we visited Durham in September 2021.

The Church of St Mary the Less

The Church of St Mary the Less

14 Comments CherryPie on Dec 23rd 2021

14 Responses to “The Church of St Mary the Less, Durham”

  1. Steve Hayes says:

    I studied in Durham for 2 years, more than 50 years ago now, but that was a church I never visited. I did visit St Mary-le-Bow, which nearly became the chapel of St Chad’s College down the road from St John’s College, but apparently didn’t.

    • CherryPie says:

      They guide at Durham Cathedral had not heard of the church either. It was only when I described where it was he remembered it and was able to direct us there.

  2. I know, I hate it when they lock the churches cos it’s a missed opportunity for me and I don’t know when I get to visit them again in the future.

  3. Ayush says:

    a very nice post and i loved the photos, CP

  4. The Yum List says:

    Merry Christmas! Hope you spent it well.

  5. lisl says:

    So many Churches are still closed to visitors because of Covid – and very often I am the only one around, so what harm would it do to remain open. I see it as an excuse

    • CherryPie says:

      Lisle, I agree with you.

      Most churches wherever I visit are quiet and in many as you say I am the only visitor around when I visit.

      This situation should not become the norm.

  6. It’s always sad to find a church closed when you visit.

    I hope you had a lovely Christmas. All the best for the new year!

  7. Happy New Year. Such a shame the church was closed but from my experience quite a lot are at the moment even those that are normally open.