St Mary’s Church Swineshead is built upon an earlier Church, dedicated to St Salvador and St Mary. The present Church was built in the 14th century. The stone for its construction was transported by barge along the tidal creek (a ‘Swin’ in old English). For the size of Swineshead, St Mary’s is a very large church, measuring well over 150 feet long 73 feet wide and 160 feet high at the top of the steeple. However once entering the church, the 53 feet distance to the roof of the nave is breath taking. This could well reflect the wealth of some of its first patrons, the de Greeley and de la Warre families.

During the reformation, many of the stained glass windows and ornate features of the Church were lost, however there is still some remaining to give clues as to the past of the Church. During the reformation the ancient altars in the Church were removed, one was destroyed but the other was buried in the floor of the Church. In 1869 the late Canon Joseph Holmes found the alter stone in the floor of the Church and had it restored to its original glory. This alter can be seen today in Lady Chapel at the southeast corner of the nave.

Another feature of the original building is Rood screen, dividing the Nave from the Chancel, dating back to the 15th century, just before the reformation. 

Like many buildings of this age, St Mary’s has been restored throughout its life. In 1847 the chancel was rebuilt and the roof was repaired at a cost of £2000. More work took place in 1868, this time in the nave, which was lowered by 14 inches to its original level and three blocks of new oak seating were installed. The floor was re-laid using Ancaster stone, the plaster and paint was removed from the walls and many of the windows re-glazed. This is when the original alter slab was found by Canon Joseph Holmes.

St Mary’s Church is now entering a new stage of its life, where it is once again being restored, unfortunately in today, one needs to add a lot more ‘0s’ to the sum spent in 1847. This restoration will allow the church to continue to be the pillar for the community of Swineshead and indeed the surrounding villages.