Hernández del Portillo continued with his description of the interior of the church, as follows: ‘Only the main chapel of the church has been completed, which is very sumptuous, and if construction were to be ongoing, it would indeed be a most magnificent temple, but no works have been undertaken for a number of years now, due to the manner that it has been carried out and a very beautiful devout altar screen is being constructed together with ornaments and other objects, To the sides of this main chapel there are two smaller ones, which are a place of burial for two knights, already mentioned, Andrés Suazo de Sanabria, in the Gospel side, with such a large and costly altar screen, that it could serve as the High Altar for a more populous city than Gibraltar. That of Francisco de Mendoza is on the Epistle side. Apart from these, another chapel was built in the cloister or Patio de los Naranjos, founded and paid for by a knight, Gonzalo de Piña, for his burial and that of the Piña lineage, these being one of the principal and most ancient noble families of this City.’
On 1st August 1704 (Gregorian calendar), during the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined English and Dutch Confederate fleet sailed into the harbour with the intention of capturing the fortress for King Charles III. Following the refusal by the City Council to cede the place, a massive bombardment was carried out on the City and its fortifications with its capitulation taking place a few days later, on 4th August.
Padre Juan Romero de Figueroa, the Vicar of the Church of St. Mary the Crowned, wrote about the event in the church registers as follows: ‘Fatality. On 1st August the English fleet arrived. Confusion and horror. On Saturday the 2nd, they discharged bombshells at midnight. Unspeakable weeping and lamentation, anguish and grief. Bombardment of cannon balls. On Saturday, 3rd August, a bombardment took place from 5 o’clock until one o’clock in the afternoon. 28,000 shots as well as bombshells were fired, and on this day the fortress capitulated and surrendered.’
Under the terms of the Articles of Capitulation, the inhabitants were given the choice of either to remain, with no alteration effected to their religion or tribunals, or to depart with their goods and chattels. However, the horror of the bombing and the many subsequent incidents of looting and rape by the invading forces, convinced the bulk of the inhabitants to move out of the Rock. To ensure the safe custody of the bulkier sacred images and large amounts of precious liturgical objects from the many churches and convents, these were mainly stored in the Church of St. Mary the Crowned under the responsibility of its parish priest, Padre Romero. Over the succeeding years, most of these items would be transferred to Spain surreptitiously and would end up in the similar named Church of St. Mary the Crowned, set up by the former Spanish inhabitants of the Rock in nearby San Roque.