William Laud

Archbishop Laud wanted to make churches more beautiful and one of his chaplains put this into practice at St Mary’s, commissioning the impressive South Porch – completed in 1637. The barley twist columns symbolise the pillars of the temple in Jerusalem but many people thought they looked much too like St Peter’s in Rome, the centre of Roman Catholicism.  And the statue of the Virgin Mary also suggested a more Catholic style of worship.  The Porch was brought up at Laud’s trial as evidence of his ‘popery’ and the head was shot off by Parliamentarian troops.  It was restored at the Restoration, and again in the nineteenth century.