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 many years have passed since the last serious investment, and it now badly needs repair and refurbishment.
The roof is worn out and cannot cope any longer. Unsightly marks can already be seen on the walls and ceiling near the bosses, and trickling raindrops threaten the floor and 18th-century organ. The old lead gutters and Delabole slate roof need urgent renewal to keep out increasingly heavy storms, as the climate changes, and there are essential repairs needed to the stonework and windows. The problems also mean that heat is easily lost through the walls and roof, increasing carbon emissions as well as making the Aisle chilly in the winter. And internally, the décor and furnishings badly need refurbishment.
Solving all these problems will secure the future of St Mary’s Aisle. It will 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 will make it beautiful and much more comfortable – making a perfect space for worship, events and activities for all ages.
The repair and refurbishment project started in May 2023 and is expected to last 9 – 12 months. The Aisle is closed to the public while work is carried out.
The cathedral is extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to the St Mary’s Aisle Appeal and warmly thanks them for their generosity. Hundreds of local people have supported this work, including Mrs Grace Holmes and Mrs Penny Evans, who left gifts in their Wills. Grants have been awarded by the following funders:
· Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Shared Prosperity Fund
· 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