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Lancaster, The Priory Church of St Mary

History

The Priory and Parish Church of St Mary, Lancaster - or Lancaster Priory as it is more commonly known - overlooks the centre of Lancaster. It is situated adjacent to Lancaster Castle in a conservation area with stunning views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Hills.

Our congregations are full of lively committed and faithful people. The weekly Priory Eucharist has a usual attendance of 150 communicants with 50 young people between the choir and Sunday groups. The Priory has recently received a ‘Child Friendly Church’ award and a ‘Marque of Excellence’ awarded by the North-West Multi-Faith Tourism Association in recognition of Lancaster Priory’s ministry of welcome to visitors.

There are frequently a number of visitors attending the Priory Eucharist - visitors and tourists from all over the world. The fine choral singing and strong preaching tradition draws people from the surrounding north Lancashire area, either as full members of the congregation or as frequent visitors.

 

Architecture

The church is a Grade 1 listed building, located on a site which has seen Christian worship since Saxon times. The carved choir stalls with their misericords are nationally famous. It is one of the most frequently visited parish churches in the North West, and particularly during the summer months, we welcome many visitors to our services.

Dominating the ancient County Town of Lancaster, the Priory Church of St. Mary and the nearby Castle (still in use as a Court and until recently Prison) together form a group of buildings of the greatest historical importance and significance.

The hilltop site on which the Castle and Priory stand is inside the lines of the Roman fortifications, most of which have been obliterated over the centuries. Many traces of these, however, have been discovered during either building works or archaeological digs and some of these have been left exposed in the field to the north of the church. This field - well worth a visit - is reached by the footpath which leads from the Priory down to St. George’s Quay on the River Lune.

Attractions

The interior is mostly medieval but has 13 centuries of history, evident from traces of a Saxon church, such as the Saxon doorway with Anglican cross fragments, 14th Century choir stalls with misericords, superb tapestries, and King’s Own Memorial Chapel with historical regimental standards and battle honours.

The present building holds Viking ornaments, crusaders’ coffins and part of Jacobean ‘three-decker’ pulpit. The Memorial Chapel holds arguably the most complete collection of Regimental Colours in the country.

Local Interest

Lancaster Castle
Maritime Museum
Judges' Lodgings and Museum of Childhood