St Mary the Virgin, Silchester is primarily a place of worship and prayer, one which still serves as the focal point for Christian fellowship and ministry for many who live nearby.
The earliest walls of this church are from the beginning of the 12th century. The present building then is not more than about 900 years old. About 1100 years before that the Romans came to what they were to name “Calleva Atrebatum”, later called “Silchester” by the Saxons Among the early Roman residents there would have been Christians who initially may have had to be secret about their faith. Some consider that the excavated remains of one building in the old Roman Town may be interpreted as a place for Christian worship dating from about 340AD, though this cannot be certain.
Continuing this long history, our parish church is a living place of worship which is used by both individuals and the community on a daily, and weekly, basis. As with other generations we make our mark both in the work of restoration and repair to keep the historic fabric in good order; also to make changes and additions to ensure that the building is effective and alive. So the word of God continues to be spoken and lived out in our own day within these walls.
Our Guide serves to introduce the visitor to a building that has many points of interest, many historical and some quite new. Since the original book written by George Boon, there has been important restoration work; the addition of works of art, and alterations both major and small. The latest alteration, the new facilities in place of the South Porch, was dedicated on Palm Sunday 2008, March 16th, by the Bishop of Basingstoke
We hope this book will help you to enjoy the architecture and to give you the opportunity to pray. Enjoy this building for its beauty and history. Value our heritage of Christian worship from Roman times to the present day.
You could sit for a moment with your family or friends to read together Psalm 122 on the opposite page, or the prayers inside the back cover, or perhaps have a few moments of silence in a place that has known prayer for centuries. We wish you well in your pilgrimage to this place and your pilgrimage through life.