Durham – St Mary-Le-Bow – Durham Heritage Centre & Museum.
The museum is situated in an historic Grade I Listed Building, close to the Cathedral, once the parish church of the North Bailey. It was rebuilt in the 17th Century and retains impressive woodwork from that period. The churchyard is now the museum garden and contains two important sculptures by renowned local artist Fenwick Lawson.
St Mary-le-Bow – Durham Heritage Centre
A City Parish
Because Durham was originally a monastic Cathedral, the city itself was divided up into parishes, with parish churches serving the residents of the city.
St Mary-le-Bow was one.
Most of the current church building dates from the 1670s, and was built to replace an older church located on the site, which collapsed, along with a city gateway that stood adjacent to it, in 1637.
The tower is slightly later, dating from 1702.
Layers of History
Because the current Church is a reconstruction of an older building, it combines elements of different dates. The roof, for example, dates from the 15th century. The wooden screen before the altar dates from 1707, while the wooden panelling dates between 1731 and 1742. There are two baptismal fonts, one dating from the 18th and the other from the 19th century.
It is common for community buildings, such as churches, to go through periodic refurbishment campaigns, and receive gifts from time to time. This church is no exception.
ST MARY LE BOW HERITAGE CENTRE, NORTH BAILEY
Grade I Listed
List Entry Number: 1121424
DURHAM AND FRAMWELLGATE NORTH BAILEY NZ 2742 SW (East side)
14/252 St. Mary le Bow 6/5/52 Heritage Centre (formerly listed as Church of St.Mary- le-Bow)
Parish church, now heritage centre. Circa 1685 rebuilding of medieval structure; 1702 tower; C19 repairs and restoration. Coursed squared sandstone with ashlar plinth and dressings. West tower. 3-bay nave and narrower 2-bay chancel with north organ chamber. Decorated chancel windows. Perpendicular east and nave windows. 3-stage tower projects slightly and has chamfered round arch with dropped keystone under drip mould; round-headed niche above has 2-centred-arched drip mould; 2-light round-headed belfry openings; battlemented parapet. Stepped buttresses, diagonal at corners with pinnacles; battlemented parapets to nave and chancel.
Interior: plaster above high wainscoting with panels and dentilled cornice; shallow C15 king-post roof trusses; battlemented frieze. Flat 4-centred chancel arch springing from walls. Stone newel stair in tower. Chancel panelling of 1731 has Corinthian pilasters, cherubs’ heads, crossed palms and modillioned cornice. Panelled west gallery of 1742. Rood screen of 1707 has much leaf and flower carving of high quality. Communion rail has fat turned balusters. Stall ends have high relief passion-fruit and flower carving, and poppyheads. C18 font in chancel; C19 Frosterley marble font in west baptistry. Monuments include marble slab with coat of arms of Thomas Wilkinson and members of his family, died 1718 to 1733.
Chancery court bench, dated to reign of James I, originated in Palace Green.
Source: W. Page V.C.H. Durham III 1928, reprint 1968, 137-141.
Listing NGR: NZ2747242160
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