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St Mary's Church, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Denomination: Anglican

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)

  St Mary's Church, Tenby

St Mary's Church, Tenby
Above: North wall and porch.

St Mary's Church, Tenby
Above: West front.

St Mary's Church, TenbySt Mary's Church, Tenby
Above: Memorial to mathematician Robert Recorde, inventor of [ = ], the equals sign.

St Mary's Church, Tenby
Above: 17th century copper memorial
plaque inscribed:

Here Lyeth The Body
Of John Sayes Of This
Towne, Alderman
Who Departed This
Life ye 22 Day Of
Sep: 1693 Aged 70
St Mary's Church, Tenby
Above: The kneeling figure commemorates William Risam, a wealthy merchant and Mayor of Tenby, who died in 1633. The effigy and background have traces of their original colouring but have been mutilated. A local tradition attributes this damage to a Cromwellian trooper's musket aimed at what seemed to be a living target.

Below: Effigy of a decomposing corpse.
Such figures were termed cadavers and were commonly effected by ecclesiastical dignitaries as reminders of man's mortality. This is a late 15th century tomb of an unknown cleric, perhaps John Hunden, former Bishop of Llandaff (1461-1475) who accepted the Rectory of Tenby in 1475.

St Mary's Church, Tenby

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