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The first record of a church in Truro was of St Mary's Parish Church, which was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1259. 

This is not to say that the Church was not already built, this may have occurred between 1135 and 1170. John De-Belsal was collated as the first Rector of Truro on 28th February 1264-5 as shown by the records.

The building would have shown off a gothic appearance built of moor stone and white granite. The interior of the establishment would have been home to an elegant alter and a powerful and fine toned organ, while divine services were conducted with much choral effect.

In the winter evenings the church was lit by lamps and candles which would have given off a grand and imposing sight. It has been said that the church was pulled down in the early years of the 16th Century and a new one erected in its stead. Apparently parts were uncovered when it was totally destroyed in the year 1880 and numerous fragments were found.

The picture opposite shows St Mary's without a roof!

St Marys with no roof

In 1861 to 1865 Edmund George Harvey, Rector at the time, noted the poor condition of the exterior of the church, which was insecure and had a dangerous roof. It was decided that the church should be demolished and J.L. Pearson was appointed the architect - he built the Cathedral that now stands were the Church once was. Today, only the south wall remains of St. Mary’s Church, which Pearson fought hard to save. However, within the Cathedral there is still St. Mary’s aisle that is home to many of the original artefacts.

St Mary's in poor condition

In 1795 a Mr Gullard undertook a long and fascinating journey down to Cornwall and stopped at Truro for the night and wrote a journal as he went. He states that he found St Mary’s: “A very capital church, the outside richly ornamented and the spire is very handsome. The inside is excellently preserved and richly ornamented, it has a capital and neat pulpit and the mayor’s seat is stately and all the pews are very good. The church is remarkably light, worth the attention of visitors”.

The last service held in St. Mary’s Church was on the 11th October 1880 followed shortly by a wedding. A replacement wooden church (costing £430) was erected to act as the Church while the building took place, and it was in this church that the ‘Festival of Nine Lesson’s’ originated, also known as the ‘Service of Nine Carols’.

The picture opposite shows the interior of St Mary's church featuring the naive window.

St Mary's interior