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Church of Saint Mary

A Grade I Listed Building in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire

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Latitude: 51.7368 / 51°44'12"N

Longitude: -4.3064 / 4°18'22"W

OS Eastings: 240842

OS Northings: 206750

OS Grid: SN408067

Mapcode National: GBR GP.TL56

Mapcode Global: VH3M2.9LRX

Entry Name: Church of Saint Mary

Listing Date: 12 May 1963

Last Amended: 28 July 1998

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 11878

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: Situated in centre of Kidwelly in large walled churchyard.

County: Carmarthenshire

Town: Kidwelly

Community: Kidwelly (Cydweli)

Community: Kidwelly

Locality: Kidwelly/Cydweli

Built-Up Area: Kidwelly

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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Benedictine priory church mostly early C14. Founded c1114, burnt 1223, C13 plan and piers of crossing, but mostly of c1320, including tall tower and broach spire. Spire damaged by lightning 1481, 1681, 1854 and 1884. After 1481 the W end of the nave was shortened. Minor alterations of 1712, 1725 and 1767. 1854 report by Sir G.G. Scott. Nave side windows replaced in 1873. Main restoration by Middleton & Prothero of Cheltenham 1885-9: new nave roof, font, E and W windows.


Rubble stone with dressings of red and brown sandstone, and white limestone tracery. Bath stone C19 tracery. Slate roofs and coped gables. Nave, transepts, chancel, N chantry chapel, SW porch opposite NW porch tower and spire. Tower is tall, massive and plain with battered base and near full-height clasping buttresses of some 8 steps. SW 3-sided stair tower, N pointed door, small single lancets, small 2-light W window and large 2-light louvred bell-lights with Y-tracery. Low plain parapet (shown as battlemented in late C17 drawing) and very tall recessed octagonal stone broach spire with SW spirelet over stair turret. Nave is aisleless, broad, roughly buttressed at rebuilt W end. 5-light Perp style W window, c1885, replacing one of c1480-1520. 2 1873 2-light windows each side, original buttresses between. Large gabled S porch with pointed entry, the jambs narrower than the arch. Collar roof trusses, one dated 1712. Finely moulded segmental pointed C14 S door with pointed niche above and pointed piscina to right. S transept has flat-headed 2-light C15 W window, tracery renewed. C19 3-light pointed S window and blocked pointed E window. N transept has pointed N window, with original hoodmould and C19 timber tracery. Blocked high W window. Chancel has 3-window S side with stepped buttresses and moulded plinths. Round stair tower in angle to S transept. Later C19 2-light cusped Y-tracery to first window. Exceptionally fine Dec C14 tracery to second and third, in white limestone. One 2-light with ogee tracery, and large 3-light with radiating mouchettes in head. Pointed low door to left of 2nd window. Clasping E buttresses. Large 5-light E window, later C19 Y-tracery. Chancel N has 2 blocked original windows with hoods, chantry projects between, originally 2-storey, altered as vestry 1725. Timber windows E and W.


Rubble stone walls formerly plastered. Fine 1885 open wagon roof of 7 bays. Deep splayed segmental-pointed window reveals. Projecting corbels along W wall. Segmental-pointed tomb recess each side of nave. Three mural stairs suggesting two screens, each side of transept arches: one stair in S wall entered from pointed doorway, one opposite, entered from N transept, and one in E wall behind pulpit, with pointed doorway. Niche and piscina also behind pulpit. Font of 1887 by Middleton, made by H. Hems. Oak inner S porch, 1964, probably by A.D.R. Caroe. Hexagonal oak pulpit, 1910, by W.D. Caroe. Segmental pointed N doorway to tower, 1713 oak door inscribed `Haec est domus dei porta coeli''. Outer N doorway is finely moulded with hoodmould and tower basement has deep pointed arches each side and quadripartite ribbed vault. Winding stair to tall 2-storey ringing chamber and then bell-loft, open right up to top of spire, the spire carried on 8 pointed arches.
Transepts and chancel arch have matching big triple rounded shafts to jambs, rising from large chamfered bases. These appear to be C12 or early C13 but segmental-pointed broad arches are early C14, exceptionally low and broad to chancel. S transept, now Lady Chapel, was Mansel of Muddlescombe chapel in C18. Collar-truss roof, possibly of 1767, as Rev John Mansel plaque in NE corner records a rebuilding then. Ashlar Gothic screen of c1960, altar 1963. S wall has 2 tomb recesses with carved tomb-slabs: to left with low-relief face of a lady, to right with incised foliate cross. Moulded piscina to left. Fine carved male effigy on tomb slab to right of altar. N transept, now organ chamber and vestry, was the Llechdwnni chapel in the C18. Exceptional carved organ-case by Thomas Warne, 1762, brought from St Mary, Swansea, 1907. High chancel roof with 8 arch-braced collar trusses, possibly C17. Windows have deep splayed reveals and moulded segmental-pointed rear arches. Moulded stepped sill-courses below. Tomb recess each side. Tracery of one blocked C14 N window visible, 2-light cusped Y-tracery, the other plastered over. Centre pointed N doorway to chantry with 2 delicate C14 stone lamp brackets. Late C17 bolection-moulded plaster panel above, and traceried small roundel light from chantry set high. N chantry chapel was 2-storey, became vestry in 1725, restored 1975. Squint, piscina and fine corbelled mural stair in S wall, jamb of medieval window in E wall. C18 collar-truss roof. Chancel S has very fine triple sedilia and piscina, earlier C14. Sedilia with octagonal piers threaded through stone bench and triangular heads with cusped spandrels. Piscina has cusped ogee tracery, triangular hood and small lamp bracket. E wall ashlar arcading of c1960, fine C15 alabaster carving of Virgin and Child on corbel to right. Later C20 oak stalls and reading desks. Slate floor.
Stained glass: W 5-light, 1960, by Celtic Studios, E 5-light 1939 and S transept S window, 1930s, both by C.C. Powell.
Memorials: Nave N: Rev. C.W. Bowen (d1835) by D. Mainwaring; nave S: Thomas Pardo (1730s), Baroque. N transept: T. Evans, 1858, by Joseph Edwards. Chancel N: J. Clement (d1831) by Tyley; daughters of Thomas Kymer, builder of first canal in Wales 1766-8, c1830. Chancel S: Catherine Thomas (d1809) by D. Mainwaring.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as the largest parish church in S.W. Wales, exceptional for the broach spire and fine Dec Gothic detail.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Wall along S side of churchyard
    Situated on N side of Lady Street, between Parish Room and track to No 17 Lady Street.
  • II Kidwelly Town Hall
    Situated in centre of Kidwelly on corner of Lady Street and Causeway Street.
  • II Castle Mill
    Situated on N bank of Gwendraeth Fach, some 100m E of Kidwelly Bridge, reached by lane running S from medieval town gatehouse.
  • II Morfa House
    Situated in terraced row on main road (A 484) some 40m S of Kidwelly Bridge.
  • II Capel Sul
    Situated on W side of main road (A 484) prominently overlooking Kidwelly Bridge.
  • II Kidwelly Bridge/Pont Cydweli
    Situated on main road (A 484) crossing Gwendraeth Fach, between Bridge Street and New Street.
  • II Ruined Warehouse By Kidwelly Bridge
    Situated on E side of main road (A 484) overlooking NE end of Kidwelly Bridge.
  • II* The Town Gate
    Situated at SW end of Castle Street, some 130m WSW of Kidwelly Castle.

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