By: Blonde One

Philip Larkin wrote his poem ‘Church Going’ about the fact that our churches are falling into disuse and are becoming more like curiosities that we visit when out doing something else: in his case cycling. He cruelly suggests that the church of his poem “was not worth shopping for”.

The Old Church in St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly is a long way removed from Larkin’s sentiment and is a fascinating place that seems to be full of interesting things inside and out. Here’s a few of them:

Our old Prime Minister (twice) Harold Wilson is buried here.

The graveyard is a site for Commonwealth War Graves. There are graves (very well maintained) from World War 1 and 2, including two from WW2 of unknown sailors from the Royal Navy.


There is a large (for Scilly) memorial obelisk to 23 year old Louise Holzmaister who perished in the 1875 sinking of SS Schiller. The memorial was placed there by her husband. One of the church windows was given to the island by the people of Germany after the disaster.

There is also a mass grave for other victims of the SS Schiller wreck.

Abraham Leggett was buried upright in the graveyard in 1809. This unusual request came as he wanted to be able to see across the bay! The top of his stone coffin (containing his head) can be seen just above the wall of the church boundary.

The church was originally built during the 12th century and restored some time after if fell derelict.


So Philip Larkin, this church is definitely worth shopping for!