Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick

The Collegiate Church of St Mary is a Church of England parish church in the town of Warwick, England. It is in the centre of the town just east of the market place. It is a member of the Greater Churches Group.

Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick
Tower and nave of the church as viewed from Warwick Castle
Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick
52°16′56″N 1°35′17″W
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
ChurchmanshipHigh Church
DedicationThe Blessed Virgin Mary
ParishWarwick, St Mary
DeaneryWarwick & Leamington
Vicar(s)The Revd Dr Vaughan Roberts
Organist(s)Oliver Hancock (Director of Music)
Mark Swinton (Assistant Director of Music)

The church has the status of collegiate church as it had a college of secular canons. In governance and religious observance it was similar to a cathedral (although not the seat of a bishop and without diocesan responsibilities). There is a Bishop of Warwick, but this is an episcopal title used by a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Coventry.


Foundation and early years

The church foundations date back nearly nine hundred years, being created by Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, in 1123.[1] In addition to founding the church, de Beaumont established the College of Dean and Canons at the church. The only surviving part of the Norman church which de Beaumont had built is the crypt.

The chancel vestries and chapter house of the church were extensively rebuilt in the 14th century by a later Earl of Warwick, Thomas de Beauchamp (later pronounced Beecham), in the Perpendicular Gothic style.[2] His descendants built the Chapel of Our Lady, commonly known as the Beauchamp Chapel. It contains the effigial monuments of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. Buried in the chancel of the church is William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, the brother of Queen consort Catherine Parr.[3]

Sixteenth century to present

The college was dissolved in 1546, and the church was granted by the crown to the burgesses of Warwick.[2] Before their destruction in the Civil War, Wencelaus Hollar copied many of the stained glass windows in the Beauchamp Chapel, showing heraldry of the Beauchamp family.

The church, along with much of Warwick, was devastated by the Great Fire of Warwick in 1693. The nave and tower of the building were completely destroyed. In 1704, the rebuilt church was completed in a Gothic design by William Wilson (appointed by the Crown Commissioners).[4] Sir Christopher Wren is also said to have contributed to the design, but that is disputed.[1][2] The tower rises to the height of 130 feet.[3] The design was described by John Summerson as being "as remarkable for its success as for its independence in style from other seventeenth-century English Gothic". [5]

Deans of the College



There are two organs in St. Mary's, the transept organ and one at the west end. The specifications of both organs can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.[6][7]

Organists (prior to 1976)

Directors of Music

Assistant Organists

Organists (from 1989)

(from 1999 the position of Organist was combined with the new post of Assistant Director of Music)

Organists and Assistant Directors of Music

  • Christopher Monks 1999 (originally appointed as Organist in 1998)
  • Luke Bond 2002 (Assistant Director of Music, Truro Cathedral from 2008)
  • Ruaraidh Sutherland 2006 (Organist at Christ's Hospital from 2019)
  • Mark Swinton 2011


Further reading

  • "Colleges: St Mary, Warwick", A History of the County of Warwick,

Volume 2 (1908), pp. 124–129.

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