St Mary’s Church has served the local community since the mid-13th century. It has stood the test of time as St Mary Cray village grew from a farming village to be a hub of local industries and then a part of Orpington. The original building consisted of just the Nave and the tower. Over the following centuries, many changes have taken place such as the addition of the North and South aisles, chancel, porches etc. The most recent restoration was to the steeple about 4 years ago.
St Mary Cray has retained its own proud identity over time and the church is part of that. One resident said, ‘The Church is the heart of our community.’ St Mary’s is a Grade II listed building with a fine peal of six bells appreciated by local people. Lots of residents talk of being baptised or married in the church and many have known the church’s support at times of loss and bereavement. The churchyard is always open, and people use it to walk their dogs, to
sit and think, to pray. It is a quiet, holy space in the middle of a busy suburban environment.
St Paul’s Academy and St Mary’s Church have a long-standing relationship. Our own Reverend Jane Winter is on the board of governors and we hope that our relationship will only strengthen as time passes.
We were able to join the children for their Harvest Festival in 2019 with Mother Jessie Daniels-White leading service and worship for the children. We were once again able to welcome St Paul’s into St Mary’s Church where they hold their annual Carol Concerts for KS1 and KS2, always well attended by family and friends.
Some of the children join us for our 9 lessons and carols service and it is always a joy to hear them sing, with a teacher often joining us in reading one of the lessons. We are always delighted to be able to donate any toys brought to our ‘Toy Service’ in December to St Paul’s to help in ensuring that all children are able to receive gifts at Christmas.
Mother Jessie usually attends the year 6 leavers assembly to present the children with a bible as they move on to secondary school. Our aim is to continue to hold termly assemblies and Reverend Jane Winter was able to record a Christmas service for the children this year whilst we have been unable to visit in person.
2020 was a year like no other and it has been a challenge to carry out many of the things we normally would do. We have all missed out on so much together but look forward in hope for the many things we can share when
the time is right.
In honour of Remembrance Sunday 2020 some of the pupils from St Paul’s visited St Mary’s War Memorial to lay a wreath as we had all been so restricted in how we could gather to honour our heroes.
St Mary's Church
High Street, St Mary Cray, Orpington, Kent BR5 4EL
For St Mary's Church website click here.