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St. Mary's altar - MediumWelcome to our church family. Whether you’re a visitor to the town, or newly moved to town, or a visitor to the website, we hope you will find the content of these pages helpful.  

If you are able to make a personal visit to either St Mary’s or St Agnes’, we think that you will find beauty and peace in these historic buildings. The two separate parishes of St Mary’s and St Agnes form a joint benefice, served by one rector.  Subject to prior commitments, the Rector’s regular office hours for dealing with enquiries is on Wednesday mornings, 10.30 am – 12 noon unless otherwise advertised.

There is a brief history of St Mary’s, also of St Agnes', in the respective churches.  St Mary’s has a very fine organ.

Our liturgy is varied. St Mary’s stands within the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. Sung Mass (Holy Communion) is the chief Sunday service.  Matins according to the Book of Common Prayer is the regular form of worship at St Agnes. St Mary’s currently holds two weekday celebrations of Holy Communion. Other services happen as arranged.

The church choir is central to the liturgical life of our benefice.  The choirmaster would be happy to hear from any parishioner interested in joining. At St Mary’s, the servers, who are affiliated to a local branch of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary play a key role in supporting the priest during Holy Communion service.  At St Mary’s and St Agnes’, flower arrangers help to beautify the church interiors. A team of bell ringers ring the bells of St Mary’s for weddings as requested.

Mothers Union: ‘Christian care for families world wide’. Branch leader: Wyn Norton. St Marys and St Agnes MU branch, welcomes new members. For further enquiries, please contact the Rector in the first instance.

Marriages and christenings. If you live locally (within either parish) or have local links, and are thinking of getting married in church or of having your child christened, the rector is happy to discuss this with you. For further information regarding the legalities surrounding marriage or christenings in a parish church, visit www.cofe.anglican.org/lifeevents and follow the links.

Schools work. St Mary’s serves Houldsworth Valley Community Primary School, and, from time to time, has been represented on the governing body. The organist and rector have assisted in collective worship. St Mary's and St Agnes’ both associate with Fairstead House Preparatory School. Visits by groups of children and teachers into ‘their’ church for educational or worship purposes are built into each school’s curriculum.

Turner Hall sign - MediumThe Turner Hall. Should you wish to book the Turner Hall, adjacent to St Mary’s, please contact the Turner Hall bookings secretary, Mrs Janet Ramsay-Helie.

Heritage funding (press release, 28 October 2015). 'St Mary’s, the oldest parish church in Newmarket, has been awarded major funding of £73,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards its re-roofing project, it was announced today. The project aims to re-lay the entire nave roof of St Mary’s, from the slating (plus fixings) down through the complete structure, in accordance with detailed plans worked out by the Whitworth Co-Partnership of Bury St Edmunds.  Conservation building techniques will be used to restore the roof to its original standard, under supervision from WCP architect Philip Orchard, who prepared the project specification and schedule of works earlier this year. Close attention will be paid to renewing the slates, felt underlay, woodwork, stonework, and rainwater goods. Work on the roof is time-tabled to begin next February, and to finish by the end of August. St Mary’s, which carries a Grade II* listing, will remain open for ‘business as usual’ during this period.

Project results of benefit to the wider community will include a new guide and history of St Mary’s, which has been researched and written by Canon Roy Tricker, a well-regarded historian of  Suffolk churches. This will supplement previous guide-books by Canon Peter May and Miss Dorothy Ellis (now available online at www.stmarysandstagnesnewmarket.org.uk), and will focus on alterations of the Victorian period, taking the story of St Mary’s down to the present day. A new children's guide, now being authored by two volunteers from St Mary's, will contain helpful  information on 'signs and symbols’, maths, and science. 

Also attractive to St Mary’s visitors with a taste for local history will be an exhibition about the history of St Mary's and the nave roof, with a model roof on show. An open afternoon, for viewing project progress, is also being arranged. This is expected to feature an on-site demonstration by the builder of how roofing materials are laid, and will therefore appeal to construction students, plus interested members of the public who are keen to see traditional craftsmen at work conserving Newmarket’s built heritage. A possible site visit from students on Anglia Ruskin University's MSc in Building Conservation is currently under negotiation.

Like the Turner Hall next door, St Mary’s is a focal point for the local community – and has been so since the thirteenth century. In 2015, it remains a significant venue for civic services, weddings, christenings, and funerals. The church regularly hosts choral and instrumental concerts, educational visits from local schools, and other community events, as well as weekly worship on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

Joanne Goodchild, St Mary’s treasurer, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant. It repays lots of hard work which the people on our team have put into planning the re-roofing project.” Janet Ramsay-Helie, one of St Mary’s churchwardens, stressed that news of the award came as an immense relief after anxious months of waiting to hear. The Revd John Hardy, rector of St Mary’s, added: “The Heritage Lottery Fund has made the difference. It means this vital work can go ahead sooner rather than later, because we can now budget for it realistically. St Mary’s has been central to Newmarket’s community life for the past 600 years, as a place for worship, live entertainment, and large group activities. It’s great to know that we are a step closer to keeping her weather-tight for another century.” '

Heritage Lottery Fund logo - Medium