The Story of St Mary's Aisle

St Mary’s Aisle is a much-loved piece of old Truro and a triumph of Victorian engineering. Using great ingenuity, the architect, John Loughborough Pearson, saved one aisle of the 16th-century parish church that stood on the prime town centre site given over to the new cathedral in 1880. It had witnessed the baptisms, weddings, and funerals of local families for generations, and still serves as a parish church – the only one within a cathedral in England.

Known as St Mary’s Aisle, it has a very special atmosphere, with glowing stained glass and fascinating ceiling bosses commemorating the achievements of local people. But by 2020, many years had passed since the last serious investment, and it badly needed repair and refurbishment.

The roof was worn out and could not cope any longer. Unsightly marks could be seen on the walls and ceiling near the bosses, and trickling raindrops threatened the floor and 18th-century organ. The old lead gutters and Delabole slate roof needed urgent renewal to keep out increasingly heavy storms, as the climate changes, and there were essential repairs needed to the stonework and windows. The problems also meant that heat was easily lost through the damp walls and roof, increasing carbon emissions as well as making the Aisle chilly in the winter. Internally, the décor and furnishings badly needed refurbishment.

Solving all these problems was essential to secure the future of St Mary’s Aisle. The ambition was to preserve this essential piece of Cornish heritage for decades to come and open up the space for all sorts of events. Bringing St Mary’s Aisle up to standard would make a beautiful and comfortable place for worship, events and activities for all ages.

The repair and refurbishment project started in May 2023 and was completed on schedule over 12 months. The Aisle was closed to the public while work was carried out.

The cathedral is extremely grateful to everyone who contributed to the St Mary’s Aisle Appeal and warmly thanks them for their generosity. Hundreds of local people supported this work, including Mrs Grace Holmes and Mrs Penny Evans, who left gifts in their Wills. Grants were awarded by the following funders:

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Shared Prosperity Fund.

This project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Cornwall Council has been chosen by Government as a Lead Authority for the fund and is responsible for monitoring the progress of projects funded through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Duke of Cornwall’s Benevolent Fund
HB Allen Charitable Trust
Benefact Trust
Cornwall Historic Churches Trust
Dulverton Trust
Bernard Sunley Foundation
Wolfson Foundation
Garfield Weston Foundation
Friends of Truro Cathedral