A masterpiece of Gothic grandeur: the Church of St Mary, Warwick

After being ravaged by fire, this Norman house of worship was rebuilt in a sumptuous array of styles by the wealthy earls of Warwick Castle. Emma J Wells praises a treasure trove of ecclesiastical eclecticism

St Mary's Church is revered as one of England's greatest architectural achievements. (Image by Alamy)

One can be forgiven for overlooking the magnificent jewel that is the Collegiate Church of St Mary when strolling through Warwick; after all, this is the heart of Shakespeare country. But just a few moments inside this treasure trove of eclecticism will reveal why it holds a reputation as one of England’s greatest architectural achievements and a symbol of medieval authority. Step into the world of the nation’s most powerful magnates.

St Mary’s started life in 1123 thanks to the efforts of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, though little remains of his original Norman construction beside the crypt. Observe its impressive Romanesque pillars, as well as the unexpected delight of one of England’s two remaining ducking stools.

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