The font at St. Mary’s
Normally, the font is placed near the West door, close to the main door and the start of the aisle, representing the Christian’s journey through life towards God. At St Mary’s the font was moved to the North wall to allow the building of the Church Hall. This explains why the south porch is now the main entrance to the church. The font was removed from the church during Cromwell’s Commonwealth but replaced in 1660. It is suggested that it dates from pre-13th century. It is lidded and lead lined. The ornate font is of a typical Early English octagonal pattern found in many early parish churches. An interesting detail on the corners is the eight tiny carved heads of kings, bishops and and angels.
Traditionally the water was blessed on Easter Sunday and left for later use so the font had to be impermeable. Did you know that in 1236 the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered fonts to be covered and locked so that the superstitious could not steal holy water? The lettering was added in 1852 when the plinth was placed as a memorial to Martha Romaine. Martha founded a Sunday school here. It met in the original Church Hall that is now the Chinese Restaurant in Bridge Street. Have you noticed the delightful brass bound barrel used to carry water to the font?