The Church of St Mary the Virgin,
Preston-on-Stour, is on the southern side of the main street through
the village, approximately four kilometres south of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The village was part of Gloucestershire until border changes in 1931 saw
it drawn within Warwickshire. Originally the church was part of Deerhurst
Priory in the ninth century, while the earliest reference to the church
itself is from 1272, when it was known as St Peter the Apostle.
At this point the priory still held the advowson, but
following the Dissolution it was taken by the Crown and remained unappropriated
until 1504, before going to Tewkesbury Abbey. After that, the rectory estate
remained with the lords of Preston manor. The present church seems to have been
built in the early fourteenth century, apparently replacing the earlier building.
The tower was built in the late fifteenth century, with a high plinth and three
It was heavily rebuilt by James West in 1753-1757 in
the then-new Gothic revival style, with ashlar walls everywhere except
for the south wall of the nave, the only original wall remaining. The
former south doorway was blocked, and a north doorway with porch was
demolished. The church has three bells, and also has strong links with
Whitchurch, which is part of the benefice, along with Ilmington,
Stretton-on-Fosse, and Tredington with Darlingscott.
St James the Great, Long Marston, is at
the south-western corner of Long Marston Road and College Close.
The parish was switched from Gloucestershire to Warwickshire in
1931 and, while the civil parish is called Long Marston, the
ecclesiastical parish is known as Marston Sicca ('Dry Marston'),
the name originating with the lack of water in the immediate
neighbourhood. Charles II is said to have taken refuge in a house
here after the Battle of Worcester (1651).
Winchcomb Abbey held the advowson of the Saxon church
that existed here in 1086. Following the Dissolution the advowson went to
Robert, earl of Leicester, favourite of Elizabeth I, by which time the
present church had certainly been built, consisting of a nave only, with
a west tower, which is how it was in 1803. On the end of the nave are the
remains of a saint's bell turret. There is no further information available
on the construction of the church or any rebuilding work.
All photos on this page kindly contributed by Aidan