St Mary’s church is the Church of England parish church of Thatcham. There has been a church in Thatcham for over 1,000 years and each generation of church has played a central role in the community.
The first church was a Saxon Minster that was thought to have been made of wood. The Normans replaced this with the first stone church around 1140. In 1220 a chancel was built and in 1344 a lower tower was added in memory of Sir William de Montacute.
In 1480 a north aisle was built and a short south aisle as added later. In 1500 the upper part of the tower was added and four bells were installed. It would be over 300 years later before further noticeable alterations were made six bells were added in 1624.
In 1845 the first organ was installed and in 1857 the church was completely renovated. The Norman doorway, a part of the original church in the twelfth century, was moved from the nave to the south porch where it still spans the entrance today.
Apart from the removal of the pinnacles in the 1970 tower renovations, the exterior of the church remains unchanged. Gas lighting was installed in September 1867; sixty years later it was replaced by electricity. A new hot water radiator system provided heating in 1919; radiant gas heaters replaced it in 1982. The organ was completely rebuilt in 1956, with further extensive work in 1982 and 1994. The tower bells were augmented to eight in 1927 and to ten in 1969.
Meeting rooms were installed in 1979 and this lead the church to becoming a venue for more social events and are now used by a wide range of community members. It has become more than just a place of worship.
Floodlights were installed in 2000 and the heating system replaced in 2001.
It is a beautiful church and well worth a visit.