VILLAGERS flocked to St Mary’s Church in Twyford for a performance by Oregon country soul band The Delines last week, in the second of a series of music events that are set to transform the life of the ancient building.

Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of the Natural History Museum in London, the building (first built in Saxon Times, with the current building dating back to 1878) is tucked away down a country lane on the banks of the Itchen. This didn’t stop the event being sold out, with music lovers visiting from as far away as Wales and Devon.

Faced with the reality of dwindling congregations, the church authorities wants to encourage more visitors to secular events and set the church on a course to become a village hub and arts venue, so more people can benefit from its appeal.

Churchwarden Juliet Hawkes approached Twyford music promoter Oliver Gray with a view to putting on music events.

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“I was immediately attracted to the idea,” said Oliver. “The building is absolutely beautiful and the kind of folk and Americana music we put on is ideally suited. The events are not at all stuffy, with high quality acoustics and a fully licensed bar among the attractions.”

As temperatures hit record highs on Monday of last week, the audience was nicely cool in the stone building and The Delines received an standing ovation.

Further shows lined up include Nashville country singer Diana Jones on September 7, award-winning folk duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman (September 30), atmospheric Irish songwriter John Blek (October 14), and a major scoop in the form of Grammy-nominated US singer Mary Gauthier on November 20.

Tickets are available from

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