St Mary’s Church was consecrated on 29th October 1311. We were therefore proud to celebrate the 700th anniversary of our church in 2011. The church has a history of more than a thousand years, commencing with a 9th Century Saxon Minster which remained until 1121. It was replaced at that time by a Norman Augustinian Priory which became one of the leading monastic houses in the South West of England and remained until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII in 1539. The remains of the old Priory can be found adjacent to St Mary’s Church and these are being carefully looked after by the Plympton Civic Society who began their restoration work in 2000.
The church has many outstanding features, including a large granite tower, several stained glass windows and many other artefacts. In St Katherine’s Chapel, which is the oldest part of the building, there is a tomb of Richard Strode who was a Plympton MP in the 1500s and was famous for introducing a bill to curb the mining of tin on Dartmoor. There is a large memorial plaque on the north wall of the church, dedicated to the Strode family. In the late thirteenth century, the river came up to the church tower and pilgrims about to embark for Santiago de Compostela in Spain were given refuge in the church. The Courtenay Chapel has a memorial to Philip Courtenay whose daughter married William Strode. Another famous local family with strong connections to St Mary’s Church were the Parkers of Saltram. There are many artefacts in the church dedicated to them.
Through the generations, the people of Plympton St. Mary have come to this church to worship God, rejoice in times of joy and seek comfort in times of sorrow.
In order to celebrate the 700th Anniversary of St Mary’s Church, we held a series of special events from the time of our Patronal Festival in August 2011 when there was a Songs of Praise led by Pam Rhodes and a Flower Festival, until the following Patronal Festival in August 2012 when there was a closing service led by Bishop Martin Shaw and a bell ringing festival. Various special services were held during the year, including a Dedication Service which took place on 29th October 2011.