180th anniversary of Southtown’s St Mary’s Church

A WEEKEND of celebrations to mark the 180th anniversary of St Mary’s, Southtown, will be held next weekend.

On Saturday, July 9, at 7.30pm there will be a concert in the church entitled Music for a Summer Evening, with Gorleston Community Choir performing a varied programme of song and music.

On Sunday, July 10, at 11am, the Rev Chris Terry will be celebrating a Festal Sung Eucharist to be followed by the cutting of a celebration cake with wine and nibbles. Organisers are hoping many friends of St Mary’s will support these event.

St Mary’s was consecrated on June 30, 1831 by the then Bishop of Norwich, Dr Henry Bathurst. The foundation stone was laid on September 13, 1830, and the building of the church, on land presented by Lord Anson, was completed within 10 months at a cost of �3,000 with the sum of �50 being donated to the project by the Great Yarmouth Corporation.

The architect was Joseph Scoles, of Southtown, who was also architect of two other churches in Yarmouth: St Peter’s, now the Greek Church of St Spyridon, in 1833, and St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Regent Road in 1850.

However, the first church dedicated to St Mary in Southtown was built in the 13th century.

In 1511 this original church was allowed to fall into ruin and in 1560 the rubble and stones were taken to the new harbour entrance being constructed, to be used for a “stop” in an effort to prevent the current from running southward in the former channel. It is thought the ancient church of St Mary Southtown was sited on the west side of Southtown Road, probably on, or near, the existing Plevna Terrace.

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The present church is on the east side of Southtown Road.