The United Benefice of Great Ouseburn,
Little Ouseburn, Marton Cum Grafton and Whixley with Green Hammerton

Welcome to St Mary the Virgin, Great Ouseburn

The church of St Mary the Virgin today plays an important role in the life of Great Ouseburn. It is open at all times and weekly services are held jointly with Holy Trinity Church, Little Ouseburn. Children take a full part in all services, sharing reading, interceding and other duties with adults. Carol Services, a Crib Service and a Good Friday Workshop are enjoyed by all and the older members of our community meet monthly for Coffee and Communion in each other's houses. The churches share a thriving, 20+ strong choir which enhances worship on the first Sunday of each month as well as singing for weddings, funerals and other special occasions throughout the church year. The choir is RSCM affiliated and rehearses each Tuesday evening. Other thriving groups include kneeler-makers, a church cleaning team, flower arrangers and on-going churchyard maintenance. Our active 'events team' organises social and fund-raising events on a regular basis as well as weekly lunches throughout Lent in aid of outside charities.

Within the last twenty years a great deal of work has taken place to bring the church building up to date. A new internal porch, built by a local craftsman, was dedicated in 1994. The bell tower has become the vestry with an adjoining kitchen; the old vestry has been converted to provide toilet facilities; the organ has been replaced and re- sited and the side chapel, formerly housing the organ pipes, has been fully restored to provide a small, versatile worship and meeting space. It was dedicated as the Chapel of the Resurrection in January 2001. An audio system, new carpeting, beautiful hand-made kneelers, an improved lighting system and in 2010, a disabled access, have further enhanced the building.

The old churchyard, to the rear, is managed for the benefit of wildlife and is now home to an increasing diversity of wild flowers. Fallen or dead trees have been replaced by British native trees, given in memory of loved ones. Together, these provide habitat for many varieties of butterflies and birds.

Historically, standing on the highest ground in the village, the Church probably dates from the 12th Century. Its most interesting features are the unbuttressed tower with round headed slit windows and the Norman tower arch. There were years of disrepair in the late 16th century when the whole chancel was in decay. The nave and aisles were rebuilt in 1823 retaining the mainly 13th century arcades and the 15th century chancel arch. In 1883 another restoration was carried out at a cost of £3,000, during a year-long closure of the church. A side chapel was added, south of the chancel, for the Thompson family of Kirby Hall. The three lights of the chapel window were re-glazed in 1927 and illustrate the 'Sower of the Seed', the 'Faithful Shepherd' and the 'Good Samaritan'. Perhaps the most outstanding window in the church is the 'Good Shepherd' window in the bell tower. It was designed by Carl Almquist, after 1866, and in the background you can see indications of his Swedish roots. The two bells were cast by Edward Seller, in 1738 and 1750; the clock was in place by March 1898, bought by public subscription to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee and a flag-staff was erected in 1905. All are in working order today!

A complete history is available in the Church.