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The Priory Church of St Mary's is a historic church with a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The main Sunday morning services are in modern language, with a family Communion service on the first Sunday of each month. There is a said early morning Sunday Communion in traditional language, and Evensong on Sunday evenings. On the second Saturday of the month there is an informal early evening drop-in service for the young and young-at-heart. On Tuesday mornings there is Morning Prayer followed by a Book-of-Common-Prayer Communion. On Friday mornings we have Morning Prayer and a pram and toddlers service. For a list of normal service times, please see the Home page.
St Mary's has a war memorial, an extensive graveyard, and a Garden of Peace on donated land consecrated in 2003 for burials. Among the graves is that of Alexander McKee, who discovered the wreck of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose.
Inside the church are some fine thirteenth-century carvings on pillars, and two ancient fonts - one hollowed out from an Anglo-Saxon stone which was originally the base of a Saxon cross; and the other a square bowl of Purbeck marble dating back to about 1200, placed on a 13th-century base. The bell frame dates back to about 1250, but only one bell, cast or recast in 1634, survives. The church interior was refurbished in 2010, and as part of the refurbishment Victorian pews were replaced with chairs: while masons were repairing the base of a pillar they added a carving of an elephant's head.
For more information on the history of St Mary's please see History.
LST and Landing Craft Association banner
In the church is displayed the banner of the LST and Landing Craft Association. This was an Association of veterans who steered landing craft to the Normandy beaches during World War 2. Much of their training was on Hayling Island. The Association held its final reunion in September 2011, with a moving service in St Mary's, at the end of which the banner was handed over to the church for safe-keeping. Here are links to a BBC report and a report in the Portsmouth News.
Prayer and Contemplation
The church is normally open for prayer and contemplation every weekday.
On Friday mornings there is a drop-in for children and carers. For details, please see Young People.
Coffee or tea is available on Tuesdays from 10.45 am to 12 noon in the church hall.
There are also monthly coffee mornings in the homes of members of the congregation.
There are normally Sunday lunches on the second Sunday of the month at 12.30 pm in the church hall.
If you would like to come, you would be very welcome: please phone Annette Toy on 023 9246 4660.
There is a 100 Club with monthly draws. Contact: Janet Coates-Jones, tel. 023 9246 7094.
The Friends of St Mary's
When St Mary's was built more than 750 years ago, it was the biggest roofed public building on Hayling Island and was very much a focus of Island life. It was a very flexible building with no fixed internal structures. During the Victorian period the Island population in general were regular church-goers and the inside of the church was changed to reflect this and make it more comfortable. Pews and other fixed fittings were introduced but, unfortunately, with them the flexibility of the church was gradually lost, together with its suitabilty for general community activities. The current refurbishment is designed to address this problem. Phase I is complete and we are now fund-raising for Phase II.
All of this costs money and, though good progress has been made, there is a long way still to go to raise all the funds required. If you would like to help, please join the Friends of St Mary's. For a Membership Form, please ask the Parish Office (address on the Contact page).