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St Mary, Tutbury, Staffordshire

(52°51′32″N, 1°41′17″W)
SK 211 291
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Staffordshire
now Staffordshire
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Ron Baxter
9 August 2005

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Feature Sets

Tutbury is a large village in the west of Staffordshire, adjacent to the Derbyshire border. St Mary’s church is on the northern edge of the village, overlooked by the castle which stands on its motte to the W. The church consists of a 6-bay aisled nave with a SW tower in the W bay of the S aisle. The N aisle was added in 1820-22 by Joseph Bennett. The original presbytery was pulled down at the Reformation, and the present one is a replacement of 1866 by G. E. Street, funded by Sir Oswald Mosley, grandfather of the Fascist politician of the same name. The original nave may have had 2 more bays at the E, as well as transepts, presbytery and a tower over the crossing.

The church is celebrated for the elaborate Romanesque sculpture of its west front and S doorway, described here, and for its use of alabaster for the first time in England and for the only time in an external setting.


Tutbury was held by Henry de Ferrers in 1086, when the Domesday Survey recorded his castle and the borough around it with 42 men living there. The Priory was first recorded in a charter of Henry de Ferrers dated to the reign of William II. Henry and his wife Bertha gave an endowment to the abbey which included extensive possessions in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. The church was dedicated to St Mary and was a dependency of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in Normandy. The priory was dissolved in 1538.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Nothing else in the county can match the elaborate ornament of the W front of Tutbury, but parallels can be found at St Chad's, Stafford and, at a simpler level, on the W doorway of Swynnerton and among the loose stones at All Saints, Chebsey. The date normally given for the work at Tutbury is c.1160-70, based on style alone. It could be a decade earlier given the absence of elaborate forms of chevron and scallop capitals.

  1. B. Charles, ‘Priory church, Tutbury’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 1st ser (VII),1852, 390-96.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 273480

  1. O. Mosley, History of the Castle, Priory, and Town of Tutbury, in the County of Stafford, 1832.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire. Harmondsworth 1974, 288-89.

Victoria County History: Staffordshire. III (1970), 331-40.