St Mary’s is the jewel in the town of Totnes: it is simply impossible to imagine the town without it. From whatever viewpoint you look, whether from the many surrounding hills or from the river Dart which made Totnes such an important trading town, the church dominates and defines the town.
No wonder the many new housing estates springing up around the town all feature the church prominently in their marketing materials: they know that Totnes wouldn’t be half such a draw without it!
St Mary’s has existed as a parish and priory church since around the time of the Norman Nonquest, although there has probably been a church here since Totnes was founded as a Saxon burgh in the early 10th century.
The tower, which makes the church such an imposing landmark, was completed in 1460. This is the sight that has greeted pilgrims and travellers for more than half a millennium and it’s still here today!
Once inside the church, one immediately senses the aura of peace and sanctity. You have only to glance through the thousands of comments in our visitors’ book to confirm this although of course you need silence to experience it.
But first, a word of advice. Look up, down and around, focussing on specific things. Whatever you look at, be aware of the love and care and craftsmanship that has gone into creating this particular item to beautify this building, or perhaps to portray the very real fear of personal demons. Wherever you look, the church is stuffed with amazing examples of this.
Many things one might never have noticed oneself have been pointed out by observant strangers. Did you notice the amazing intricately carved oak doors – there’s nothing quite like them anywhere in the country! Did you look up and notice the beautifully carved Tudor rose bosses in the porch?
So make the most of your visit to St Mary’s. It could change your life!