The Church of St Mary Magdalene, Boveney
The Church of St Mary Magdalene, Boveney

The Friends of Friendless Churches

The Friends of Friendless Churches campaigns for and rescues redundant historic churches threatened by demolition and decay.


We now own over 40 former places of worship, half in England, half in Wales.


We preserve these buildings intact for the local community and visitors to enjoy. Without us, all of these buildings would no longer be here, or open to the public.


Maintaining and repairing our churches is a considerable financial challenge. We rely a great deal on the generosity of our members and on the willingness of groups of local 'Friends' to fundraise and to act as our eyes and ears.


If you are interested in rescuing redundant churches we urge you to join us or you can buy our book.


The Church today – from the Friends of Friendless Churches website:


St Mary's Boveney, nestling on the banks of the Thames, almost within sight of Eton College but a world away in a small remote hamlet, was saved by the Friends in June 1983.


The building is listed Grade I despite its low-key exterior. What tips it into that highest of all listing categories is the remarkable vernacular interior with 18th and 19th Century fittings, its romantic location adjacent to the Thames and its very early origins in the 12th Century. The church was built to serve the bargemen or bargees as they were called who plied their trade on the river, although the quay immediately adjacent is long lost. Outside you will notice the little slivers of flint pressed into the mortar coursing lines - this is a partly decorative, partly functional technique known as galletting.


St Mary's has proved to be the biggest single challenge the Friends have ever faced.  The church has just emerged from major building campaigns, grant-aided by English Heritage, especially to the tower and roof. Further works are planned which should be completed before the building is visited by the thousands who will attend the Rowing competition for the 2012 Olympics which will be held just a few hundred yards away.


We are very grateful to the local group of Friends who are helping us manage the church. 


The Repair Campaign at Boveney


We have completed a £200,000 contract to conserve the weather-boarded and timber-framed 15th century tower where the degree of instability had proved alarming.


English Heritage came up trumps with a 70% grant offer towards the £200,000 and others were noticeably helpful particularly Sir John Smith and the Francis Coales Charitable Foundation. Eton College, who historically held the living of the church, were immensely generous in dedicating the proceeds of their annual 'Concert for the Choir' to the repair campaign.  We would like to offer our sincere thanks to Eton College itself, to the boys of the choir and the orchestra for their wonderful performance - and to all the people who attended for their generosity and support. We are also very grateful for the sterling efforts of local people in publicising the concert on our behalf.


In 2010 we undertook a further round of repairs principally to the windows. 


Visit the Church

The Church is open daily.


We encourage those who are interested to take advantage of going inside the Church and enjoying the wonderful, quiet, peaceful place that it is.

St Mary Magdalene, Boveney as a Wedding Blessing, Concert, Literary or Riverside Picnic Venue

The Church is available as a venue for appropriate events.

Full details in the Venue section