St Mary's Great Canfield (see gallery)
St. Mary’s Church at Great Canfield is a classical Norman church which was built in the period 1100 to 1150. It lies in the shadow of an old Motte and Bailey and it was perhaps built on the site of an earlier church.
It is an excellent example of a Norman building with its chancel arch and doorways. It is commended in many books and articles, and a past report by a Diocese surveyor said “The church is essentially Norman. The wall painting of the Virgin and child in a recess at the east end is a 13th century painting of exceedingly good quality. The quality of the Norman decoration is quite outstanding”.
The greatest treasure of the church is the painting of the Virgin Mary and Child, which dates from the early 1200s, and is of county wide, if not, national renown. This was covered up during the Reformation and fortunately survived, although its survival remained unknown for several centuries afterwards. This led to the church being mistakenly dedicated to St Peter in 1876. The name “St Mary” was restored after the painting’s rediscovery a few years later.
There are many other interesting Norman features including some of the original windows and other carvings on the stonework.
The church is not open for security reasons but visitors are very welcome; the churchwarden will be happy to provide access; his telephone number is 01279 870620, and an appointment in advance whilst not essential, would be appreciated.
Details of services are posted on the notice board by the lychgate and in the church porch. Holy Communion is regularly celebrated on the fourth Sunday of the month.