St. Mary’s Chancel

In order to reach the chancel we pass through the dogtooth decorated Norman arch. The rood screen originally separated the people in the nave from the clergy and choir in the chancel. This distinction in St Mary’s is symbolised by two steps up which all pass to reach the communion rail.

The modern golden cross was hung in November 2000 and formed part of the church’s recognition of the Millennium. Created by Zoë Woodley, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, it is made of antique stained glass and mahogany. Gold leaf has been used to emphasise the Ring of Life. The amber and olive colours echo those used in the oculus above.

There are seven sanctuary lights in St Mary’s. They remind us of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit —wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, true godliness and the fear of the Lord.

In 1885 an apse was added to the Sanctuary, the ceiling being decorated by three figures of our Lord and adoring angels. It is said that the figures were made out of the world famous product of Staines – linoleum. You can just see their outlines. Further additions included the present altar and the three windows above. There was a new organ chamber, which housed the organ that had been moved from the balcony. “The pretty open roof of wood” had replaced the low plaster ceiling in the chancel.

The three windows were in place by 1885. The one on the left depicts The Blessed Virgin Mary – note her blue robe and the lily that she is carrying. This was a gift from some women from the congregation of the time, which may be interesting -not all the women and no particular guild! Perhaps this was the beginning of St Mary’s Mother’s Union. The centre window, in warm red colours, depicts Christ in glory. It was donated by the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany who were to be the Kaiser and Kaiserin, she being the Princess Royal, Queen Victoria’s oldest daughter. The window was given in memory of Miss Augusta Maria Byng who was nurse to their children and once an occupant of Binbury Row, Staines. Finally, we have St. Ermengild (Erminildis) holding a model of the first stone church, which she supposedly caused to be built on this site in 685. The Victorians would see this as a symbol of Staines’ part in the Christian tradition. However, some experts believe that the model St. Erminildis holds is not of Stana (Staines) but of Stone, Staffordshire, where lived King Walphere, father of Erminildis.

There are two long stained glass windows on either side of the altar. They represent two Christian virtues – Faith, an anchor, and Hope, a cross, sometimes shaped as a sword.

The little cupboard above the altar covered by a gold curtain, in which are stored holy oils, is called the aumbry.

The reredos, the space between the altar and the windows, depicts the sacrificial Lamb, a symbol of Christ. Did you notice the repetition of the seven lights of the chancel? This time, the seven candles behind the Lamb remind us that Christ promised us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Also shown on the reredos are the four evangelists, Matthew – a male angel; Mark -a lion; Luke – an ox; John – an eagle. The art work is typical of the time. It is in keeping with the floor tiles and the small tiles on the steps. These commemorate the Rev. Robert Govett who was the incumbent when the church was rebuilt in 1828.

The plan of the church is a simple rectanglar nave with a smaller chancel with an apsidal east end. Although the church is decidedly Victorian it echoes the design of much earlier parish churches of Saxon or Norman origin. This reference is exhibited in the chancel arch which Romanesque rather than Gothic. This is further echoed in the dogtooth decoration, a subtle allusion to late Norman design. There are some quiet but attractive details in the chancel arch and the arch over the organ.

The nave boasts a fine roof in a distinctly gothic style, presented as part of the Low Bequest and made of Canadian Cedar.

To perfectly compliment the nave roof there is a delicatedly styled wooden pulpit the base of which is inscribed To the glory of God and in memory of charles and Emma Finch this pulpit is dedicated by their children.