St Mary’s Church is a lovely building right in the centre of Conwy, steps away from the castle and the B&B where I was staying. Before the castle existed the site of the church was the Cistercian Aberconwy Abbey dating from 1172 (Llywelyn the Great mentioned earlier was buried there in 1240). Henry III’s army would go on to ransack the abbey in 1245 and in 1283 Edward I would conquer the town and build his castle. The abbey site would become St Mary’s Church in 1284.
As is usual with church buildings of this date, bits have been added and subtracted throughout the years. The porches and parts of the tower are 14th century and the stone font and completion of the tower dates from the 15th century. In 1872 Sir Gilbert Scott (responsible for the Albert Memorial and the Foreign and Commonwealth offices among others) restored the interior and added new windows.
Regular readers will know how much I love stained glass windows and St Mary’s has some beautiful examples, including this lovely lady that was made in the workshop of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones.
And this pair that depicts William Morgan and William Salesbury who first translated the Bible into Welsh.
One notable grave inside the church belongs to Nicholas Hookes. The photo isn’t very clear I’m afraid but it declares that he was the 41st child of his father and went on to father 27 children of his own!
One other tomb of note in the church belongs to Robert Wynne, the builder of Plas Mawr.
Outside the cemetery is well kept and acts as a short cut through the town as it has multiple entrances. One of the most famous gravestones is this one linked to William Wordsworth’s poem “We Are Seven”. Wordsworth wrote this poem after a visit to Conwy in 1798. People being what they are souvenir hunters broke off pieces of the tombstone that inspired his work, hence the iron cage which was added in the early 20th century to protect what was left.
It’s a lovely church and very welcoming – I was immediately greeted and handed a free guide (I did leave a donation on my way out). You can find more photos here.
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