St. Mary’s Church on South Street in the heart of the town is the Civic church of the town and principal church of the Parish of Bridport. It is a lively church which is much engaged with the local community.
St. Mary’s has a range of worship styles and each Sunday there is a Parish Eucharist with robed choir. When services fully resume post-lockdown, we may again have a monthly Choral Evensong according to the Book of Common Prayer. The service usually follows a ‘season’ of themed sermons which are of interest and high quality. St. Mary’s is home to Cupboard Love our food bank and other support. Goods are available weekly, which has continued throughout lockdown/s at ‘Walk-in Wednesdays’ from 11.30 a.m. Emergency help can be provided but a referral from another agency is preferred.
The Choir of St Mary’s sings a range of church music and is very ably led by our Director of Music, Mr. Tim Linsley. Practice is usually from 7.00 p.m. on Thursdays, but again, Covid restrictions may pause this for a time. St. Mary’s has a peal of eight bells and a very energetic team of bell ringers. Practice is usually on Thursday evenings and new ringers are always welcome. A church has stood on this site from at least the Middle Ages and probably much longer than that. The earliest remains, dating from the 13th century, are to be found in the north and south transepts. Much of the rest of the building, including the central tower, dates from the 15th century. In St. Catherine’s Chapel can be found the Monmouth Rebellion brass.
It commemorates Edward Coker who was killed in East Street (reputedly by a bullet from an upstairs window in the Bull Hotel) by one of the Duke of Monmouth’s officers in 1685. Guides are available in church which chart the history of the building including its links with Dorset author Thomas Hardy. On 30th October 1996 a fire broke out in the roof space above the south aisle near the porch. The church is now repaired and redecorated. In recent years it has had further improvements including a new chapel area, meeting room and toilets and baby changing facilities. There is a strong connection with the Bridport United Church (Methodist/URC) and joint services, study groups and children’s holiday clubs are held.
There is a parish link with Roumois in the Diocese of Évreux , Normandy. With flexible seating and a maximum capacity of 400 St. Mary’s hosts many concerts and other town events. Our new Team Rector Deb Smith starts in Sept 2018, until then the ministry team is being led by Team Vicar Revd Pete Stone, supported by Valerie Payne, and Peter Wright who are Locally Licensed Ministers. The laity are ably led by Churchwardens Lesley Hill and Tyrone Trower alongside deputy Churchwardens Steve Bartlett and Ivor Parker.