The church is built very prominently on the top of an outcrop of red standstone rock above the River Tern. The oldest part of the present stone Church is the Norman main doorway, dated 1150AD. There almost certainly was a wooden Saxon Church on the same site.
According to the Domesday Book (1086) there was "A Priest in Drayton".
The official name of the parish is "St Mary's Drayton-in-Hales." (Hales being a small village a few miles away and the original name of the general area.) The weekly market took place in the Churchyard after Sunday morning worship but in 1201 the Pope forbade the presence of markets on church property with the result that the market moved a few hundred yards northwards to its present site. Then in 1245 King Henry III granted a Charter for a weekly Wednesday market and the town has been called "Market Drayton" ever since but with the church retaining its ancient name! And the market is still held every Wednesday to this day.
There was major building work done in the church in the 1320's. The Georgian period saw galleries and box-pews added. Then a Victorian re-build in the 1880's removed the changes made in the Georgian period and returned the Church to its original style.
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Visitors to St Mary's now will notice the major work that is being undertaken to create new accessible toilet facilities, which are eagerly awaited!