Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 02, 2017
Webpage updated: February 27, 2020




The Anglican Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is situated in Old Laira Road, Plymouth.

An early photograph of St Mary's Church at Laira, Plymouth.

Originally the village of Laira Green was in the Parish of Eggbuckland and there was only the mission chapel at Crabtree to look after the religious needs of the district.  In the 1890s more houses were built at Laira and it was felt that a more permanent structure was needed. 

In 1906 the Lady of the Manor (i.e Efford Manor), Mrs Lucy Clark, conveyed 884 square yards of land to the church and Mr T R Kitsell, an architect of Portland Square, Plymouth, and a member of the congregation of Eggbuckland Church, was asked to design the building.  It would be a chapel-of-ease until the Church was given a parish of its own.

There was only 3,700 in hand towards the building costs, which were estimated at 10,000, so the first part to be built was planned to consist of the chancel, vestries, the tower chapel, one bay of the nave, and the all-important heating chamber.  This work would cost about 5,000 and accommodate about 300 people.  When fully completed the building would seat 700.

Mrs Clark laid the foundation stone on Saturday September 16th 1911.  However, the cost of erecting the Church was way over the available funds so the Three Towns' Church Extension Committee were asked to contribute, which they did to the tune of 5,000.  This did not solve the problem, however, and it was with some difficulty that work proceeded to enable the consecration by the Bishop of Exeter to take place on Thursday July 2nd 1914.

On the day of the ceremony it was said that a half of the nave and the upper stages of the tower were yet to be completed but it was felt that the barrel roof and clerestory of the nave already gave it a spacious appearance.   The altar was made of oak, as was the pulpit, which was dedicated to the memory of the late vicar, the Reverend Turner, and had been brought here from Crabtree Mission Chapel.  The other sculptures adorning the interior of the Church had been made by Mr J B Hunt, of Sutton Road, Plymouth.

The Church is built of granite in the modern Gothic style.  The interior is of Bath stone.

The ecclesiastical parish was not formed until December 18th 1931, when it was separated from Eggbuckland.