St Mary's Church, Tenby, Pembrokeshire
Dedication: St Mary
Built: 13th century (tower)
Enlarged: 15th & 19th centuries
1. This is the largest medieval parish church in Wales, and a testimony to the prosperity of Tenby in the late medieval period. The south doorway and lower parts of the tower are 13th century, and the south-east vestry and north porch are Victorian. The remainder is circa 1450-1510. A cruciform two-storey west porch built in the 1490s was removed in 1831. The nave has very wide aisles with arcades of five bays. A probable 13th century south aisle was widened circa 1500 when the chancel arch was removed and coved wagon-roofs provided over the nave, chancel and north chapel. On the south side stands the tower with a later spire rising to 45 metres.
[Adapted from The Old Parish Churches of South-West Wales by Mike Salter, published 1994, Folly Publications, Malvern; ISBN1-871731-19-4]
2. The tower was built about 700 years ago and is older than most other parts of the church, and older than most other church towers in Pembrokeshire. When first built it provided a belfry and a chapel, and could also serve as a lookout point and a place of refuge in troubled times. The spire was added about 200 years later, and its height (152ft.) makes it a notable landmark for travellers by land or sea.
There was a clock in the tower in 1650 but it may not have had a dial and simply struck the hours. It was replaced in 1726 by a clock with one dial, and in 1813 two other dials were added. A new clock was provided in 1861 but the fourth dial was not added until the present clock replaced that one. The mechanism of the present clock was installed in 1888 and until recently the three sets of weights had to be wound up by hand everyday; this is now done automatically by electric motors.
[Extracted from the Virtual Tenby website, where further details are available]
Photography: John Ball
Dates: 29 April 2007 (exterior shots); 6 May 2005 (interior shots)
Cameras: Nikon D50 digital SLR (exterior); Fuji FinePix S602 Zoom digital (interior)