Our heritage 

Help us to preserve it

The Friends of St. Mary’s is a Registered Charity whose members are dedicated to the preservation of the magnificent Grade 1 listed buildings that have dominated the life of Higham Ferrers for 800 years: 

• St Marys Church

• Chantry Chapel

• Bede House.

The Friends are a secular organisation; you do not have to belong to any church or denomination to become a member of ‘the Friends’. You just need to share our desire to preserve this wonderful heritage.

All funds raised through membership and any other fund raising activity, are for the specific purpose of supporting the exterior preservation, repair, maintenance and restoration of these buildings, and the churchyard in which they are situated. 

What's new?

Spring is just around the corner!

The Friends of St. Mary's welcome you to their annual Spring Flower Coffee Morning in the Bede House. Not only coffee and cakes to enjoy but also lots of stalls, plants, and pots of miniature daffodils plus music.

Saturday 16 March 9am until noon in the Bede House

Come and enjoy the churchyard as it colourfully and joyfully heralds spring and help support the Bede House restoration.


The Wandering Minstrels
 Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, Morcea Walker MBE

The Bede House was packed to the rafters for an evening of celebration to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Friends of St. Mary’s, generously sponsored by Wilson Browne Solicitors. In the presence of our special guest, the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, Morcea Walker MBE, the audience were treated to an evening of the biting wit and enchanting music of Gilbert and Sullivan by The Wandering Minstrels.

Decked out in period costume and with an array of props, the five singers, their pianist and lighting manager presented a programme from Gilbert and Sullivan’s famed comic operas. With words by W. S. Gilbert and music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, the programme featured songs from The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Yeoman of the Guard, Iolanthe, The Sorcerer and The Gondoliers.

It is the first time that The Wandering Minstrels have visited the town and it won’t be the last, given the obvious enjoyment of both the audience and the entertainers. Tim Hurst-Brown, the artistic director, commented that “everything went splendidly and I think the audience enjoyed themselves too, so a good time was had by all!”

Profits from this event go towards the restoration of the Bede House roof and our next exciting project, to restore the charming bell cot above the Bede House entrance and return the bell to working order. 

"A Gilbert and Sullivan Extravaganza" and it certainly was! Thank you to the Friends who staged a most wonderful evening presented by The Wandering Minstrels who were so entertaining. Hard not to join in the singing as my school days came rushing back to me but my feet were definitely tapping! Well done to everyone for putting together such a well-attended and joyful evening.”

Morcea Walker MBE, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire Heritage Awards 2023

Best Project by a Group or Society: Winner

The Friends of St. Mary’s, Higham Ferrers

Gateway to the 600-year history of the Bede House

The Friends of St Mary’s (FoSM) is a volunteer organisation, dedicated to supporting the preservation, restoration, improvement and ornamentation of the three medieval buildings. The gate project was organised from concept to completion by the volunteers, and involved fund raising, and liaison with the church authorities, the carpenter and stone masons.

This was an ambitious and complex project for a Friends group to accomplish. Whilst many professionals were involved, there is no doubt that the vision, persistence and energy of the Friends were instrumental in bringing this project to a very successful completion. It was clearly a great learning experience for them, and they raised over ten thousand pounds with every member being involved in some way.

To quote their entry, ‘the gates through the ancient site are more than a convenience, they offer a journey into the town’s fascinating past. Reaching to a wider audience leads to more stories being told to more people.’

The judges were impressed by both the ambition and the impact of this group.

The gateway to God … the Bede House … and beyond

Our ambitious project to open an off-limit entrance to The Bede House and St Mary’s churchyard  ─ and beyond ─ has been completed. 

Marian Knott, the town’s Bedeswoman, officially cut the ribbon and declared the new oak gate open, giving access from Midland Road.

See our Christmas newsletter for full details >>

First impressions ...

We are delighted to announce that the new church noticeboard, kindly funded by the Friends, is finally in place. 

The design was chosen to leave more space for communicating details of services and events as well as news from the Friends of St. Mary's.

Unique tapestry unveiled in Higham Ferrers

A unique tapestry which traces the life of one of Northamptonshire’s most famous historic figures, was unveiled in Higham Ferrers on Thursday 24 February 2022.

The tapestry honours the Higham Ferrers-born Henry Chichele who became one of the longest serving Archbishops of Canterbury, appointed by his close friend Henry V in the early fifteenth century just before the Battle of Agincourt. It shows scenes from his remarkable life of almost 80 years and celebrates his heritage in Higham.

The tapestry was the brainchild of retired art and design teacher Fay Caddick, who was the driving force behind two big projects.

See the full story here ...

Rewilding Project

We are delighted to announce that we have been given a Silver Award for our Rewilding Project by the Wildlife Trust in the Northamptonshire Churchyard Conservation Award Scheme.