The parish of St Mary-le-More & All Hallows with St Leonard & St Peter, Wallingford is situated in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. The churches are, together with those in Crowmarsh Gifford and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, part of the Wallingford Team, which is within the Wallingford Deanery in the Diocese of Oxford within the Church of England.
St Mary-le-More (to give its full title, as opposed to St Mary-the-Less, which also existed in Wallingford in medieval times) is not the oldest of the present churches in our town. There has been a church on the market square, however, since Norman times, and we know that it was rebuilt at the end of the 13th century. The church you now see in the market place was largely rebuilt in 1854 at a cost of £2,400. The last major renewal took place in 2009–10, at a considerably greater cost! The tower was rebuilt in 1653, following serious damage in a thunderstorm, partly re-using stones from Wallingford Castle, demolished a year earlier on the orders of Cromwell. The tower holds an 18th century ring of eight bells. Two further bells were added in 2003 in memory of Lady Jill Bradshaw, a bellringer at the church for many years. Further monuments in the church reflect the many benefactors of the town.
St Leonard’s is the oldest church in Wallingford and stands on the Thames Path, just a few steps from the River Thames. There has been a church here since at least the late Saxon period, though it is possible that the first church on the riverside site dates back as early as the 6th century. You can easily make out the distinctive late Saxon stonework, with stones laid in a herringbone pattern. This stonework is most easily seen in the north wall and over the round-headed windows. The oldest part of the current structure is the tower, much of which is 11th century.
In the 13th century St Leonard was united with St Lucien’s church (now demolished) and it formed one of 14 medieval churches in Wallingford. Henry I granted the church to the monastery of St Frideswide at Oxford, and after the Dissolution of the Monasteries it reverted to the crown. One highlight of the church interior is a series of 4 murals of angels painted in 1889 by artist George Leslie, who lived in St Leonard’s Lane. Other highlights include a series of finely crafted 18th century monuments in the nave. The church was heavily damaged in the 1646 siege of Wallingford, when Parliamentary troops used the church as a barracks. It took repairs in 1656, 1695, and 1700 before the church could finally be reopened for worship. From 1849 the church was rebuilt in Gothic Revival style, under the direction of Henry Hakewill, preserving sections of the original Saxon building.
The other Anglican church in town is St Peter’s, also on the river bank and next to the bridge. It is used for occasional services and provides a beautiful venue for concerts in the summer.
We hope that our church buildings can enable you to worship God in a variety of ways. We strive to be a welcoming place for all who enter our churches and hope you will enjoy your time with us.
The Friends of St Mary’s and St Leonard’s Churches help to preserve the fabric of these historic buildings.
Further information about our churches can be found in the leaflets in the different churches.