St Marys Church

St Marys, Tenby, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, SA70 7HN, Wales

The church has plain and stained glass windows. All the woodwork (pews, chancel screen, choir stalls, etc.) were stripped and lime-waxed in the 1960s, giving St. Mary’s a unique feeling of space and light.

One of the glories of the church is the “wagon roof” over the Chancel. Bosses (circa 1470) depicting the four Evangelists, the Passion, grotesque beasts and faces, fish and a mermaid holding a mirror, decorate this roof.

The octagonal spire built on the top of the older tower also belongs to this period. The spire rises to 152 feet surmounted by a weathercock and is a landmark for local shipping. Clock faces adorn the four sides of the tower. The present chiming clock was installed in 1899 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

The tower houses a peal of eight bells with the heaviest, the tenor, weighing twelve-and-a-
half hundredweight.

The High Altar in the Chancel of St. Mary’s is dramatically set at the head of ten sanctuary steps. The unusually wide south aisle leads to the High Altar and was formed in the late 1400s. Flanking the Chancel are two Chapels. To the north is the St. Nicholas Chapel, built in 1475, dedicated to St. Nicholas in 1899 and refurbished in 1966.

South of the High Altar is St. Thomas’ Chapel, built in the middle of the 15th century. On the east wall is a monument to William Risam, allegedly used for target practice by Cromwellian troops. In the corner stands the former ‘curfew’ bell cast around 1500 and inscribed ‘Sancta Anna’. In this Chapel is the more modern memorial to Robert Recorde (d. 1510) - the mathematician who invented the = (equals) sign.

The pulpit bears the date 1634. The large organ was given to the church in 1869 and extended in 2009. There are two fonts. The old disused one in St. Thomas’ Chapel dates back to the 15th century, and the large new font set to the right of the north door dates from 1886.

For some years St. Mary’s has held a Flower Festival in early July at which various organisations and churches from around the town contribute displays. The Festival raises money for a number of charities and attracts a large number of visitors each year.