A large, Perpendicular Gothic church,
serving the Parish of Thirsk in the Diocese of York

The Benefice of Thirsk
Rector: Revd. Canon Richard Rowling
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St Mary's Church Thirsk: Home Page

Welcome to St Mary's Church, Kirkgate,Thirsk,North Yorkshire. YO7 1PR

Looking along the nave, towards the chancel
Looking along the nave, towards the chancel
St. Mary’s is an Anglican Church situated at the end of Kirkgate.This magnificent, medieval church built between 1430 and 1480 is often called the cathedral of North Yorkshire because of its outstanding Perpendicular Gothic architecture, size and prominence -and its 80 ft tower. It has served the people of Thirsk for over 500 years, seen many changes, witnessed turbulent times, helped people in their troubles and encouraged them to look to God.

St Mary's welcomes thousands of visitors. From Easter to October church is open daily 10am-4pm ( Tuesdays 12pm-4pm in term time)Sundays 12pm-4pm. November to Easter church is open Wednesdays and Fridays 10am-12 noon.
TELEPHONE: 01845 527776
PARKING- Some free Disc zone 2 hour spaces near church, free roadside parking past the church,'pay & display' car parks. Market Place parking is 1st hour free-2nd hour 60p.

A Wonderful Church for a Wedding

If you wish to walk up the aisle of St. Mary's you will need to make arrangements in good time. First you need to book your special date.The Rector Revd. Canon Richard Rowling or a church officer is available in the Church Vestry from 6.00pm to 6.50pm during the weekly Monday Office Hour(there is an evening Service at 7.00pm.) To book your wedding please call in or telephone 01845 527776 during the Office Hour.
Please note there is no Office Hour on Bank Holiday Mondays.

Regular and Special Services-and Baptisms

There is usually an 8.00am Holy Communion Service using the Book of Common Prayer and a 10.15am service every Sunday. All Age Worship (without Holy Communion)is usually held at 10.15am on the 2nd Sunday in the month. The 10.15am Service on the 1st,3rd and 4th Sunday is Parish Communion and on the 5th Sunday it is a Benefice Communion. There is no regular Evening Service on a Sunday but there are Morning and Evening Prayer services during the week. On Thursday mornings there is a Holy Communion service at 10.00am.
Details of any change to a regular Service may be found on the Calendar.(See Services for more information.)

Baptisms/Christenings and Weddings
may be arranged during the Office Hour, 6.00pm to 6.50pm in the vestry, every Monday evening -except Bank Holidays. (Please note that the Evening Service follows immediately at 7.00pm.)If you wish to telephone church the number is 01845 527776.

St. Mary's Daily Ministry of Welcome.

Thanks to dedicated volunteer Welcomers the church is open daily until 4.00pm for visitors from now until the end of October. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays church is open 10.00am to 4.00pm.Little Ark club meets on Tuesday mornings from 10.00am to 11.30am in term time and Visitors are welcome after the session finishes. On Thursdays church is open after the 10.00am Holy Communion Service and on Sundays after the 10.15 Service.

The Crypt is open every Monday from 10.00am for Refreshments & soup lunches. On Bank Holiday Mondays there is a delicious choice of savouries, scones & cakes etc.

As the building of St. Mary’s began in about 1430 there are many things of special historic interest which ‘Welcomers’ like to point out. Many visitors fail to notice the wonderful door which has been in use since the church was built.( Interestingly the wicket hinges are dated 1747-the wicket is the smaller door set in the big door- so was this a later modification or had the hinges worn out through frequent use?) Visitors are often given a demonstration of the amazing way the door closes and so appreciate the skills of those who crafted it.

The Font is Victorian but part of the cover is mediaeval. Unfortunately in 2007 the Font cover suspension cable snapped so the Font could not be used for baptisms. However, thanks to a generous donor, a new cable was fitted in February 2010. This brought the Font back into use for baptisms and visitors can see how the Font cover is raised.

Ark Clubs

The Ark Club (children’s group for ages 4 years upwards) meets on the 1st,3rd and 4th Sunday each month in term time during the 10.15 service for lots of fun with arts, crafts, stories and songs.There is an All Age Worship Service at 10.15am on the 2nd Sunday in which the young people participate fully.

The Little Ark Club is a club for parents, grandparents, carers and toddlers which meets in church on Tuesday mornings from 10.00am to 11.30am during term time. (See Calendar for dates.)
For more information contact Sara Goodall on 01845 526649

St. Mary's Charitable Status

St Mary's Church is a Registered Charity - 222711 is its number. This means Donations from taxpayers can be Gift Aided and the Church can reclaim 25 pence for every £1 received. Gift Aid forms and envelopes are available in church. Donations to the Organ Restoration Fund may also be Gift Aided.

Herriot Connections

Thirsk is the town in which Alf Wight, writing as James Herriot, was in veterinary practise. He married Joan Danbury in St. Mary’s Church on 5th November 1941 with only the vicar and two witnesses present. (There is an interesting description in one of his books ‘Let sleeping Vets Lie’.) His daughter was married in St. Mary’s Church as was his granddaughter (on 6th August 2005)

Parish Records

Thirsk Parish Registers date from 1556. Only the current registers are held in the Church. Historic registers, together with Parish Chest documents such as churchwardens’ accounts, bastardy orders, apprenticeships etc. are deposited in the North Yorkshire County Record Office in Northallerton where they may be consulted on microfilm. A printed transcript of the Thirsk registers from 1556 to 1721 was published in 1911 and can be found as Volume 42 in the Yorkshire Parish Register Society series (and there are two copies in the Parvise.) Indexed transcripts of the registers to 1837 can be consulted at the North Yorkshire County Record Office.

Whilst we are always interested in historical information about your family's connection to St.Mary's it is not possible for the Media Officer to undertake any research on your behalf. The local branch of the County Library in Finkle Street has a useful collection of books on local history including trade directories - the most useful of which is the one published by Bulmer in 1892. The Local Studies section of the County Library in Northallerton has a wider range. Thirsk Museum, just a short walk from the church in Kirkgate, is often able to help with local family history enquiries.
North Yorkshire County Record Office : 01609 777585
Thirsk Town Council: 01845 526445
Thirsk Museum: 01845 527707

Burial Records- Information

A photographic record of 52 Graves and details of 130 persons buried in St.Mary's churchyard may be obtained by visiting www.gravestonephotos.com/public/cemetery.php?cemetery=445
This site lists the names alphabetically and has fascinating information about some of them. Sadly the site does not have a full record of graves and burials. However the church does have more information available.

St. Mary’s churchyard was closed in 1880 and with the exception of a very few burials in family vaults (mainly those of the BELL family) interments after that date took place in the cemetery and are not recorded in the burial register.

Cemetery records are held by Thirsk Town Council and can be consulted by arrangement with the Clerk to the Council. In 1991 the Cleveland, North Yorkshire and South Durham Family History Society made records of all the existing memorial inscriptions in the church and churchyard, but not those in the cemetery. An indexed copy of the survey may be consulted in the church, but it should be remembered that this list records only those gravestones and other memorials that were legible at the time of the survey and by no means covers all the burials that have taken place. This list also records past incumbents and the names on the War Memorial which stands within the church.

Electronic Newsletter

St. Mary's publishes a printed newsletter on a regular basis and this is available from the Church, or it can be delivered within the Thirsk area by arrangement. If you would like to receive this newsletter via email, simply click on the button to add your email address to our electronic mailing list.