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St Mary Church at Tenby, Pembrokeshire

St Mary's Church interior The parish church of St Mary was begun in the 13th century as a rebuilding of an earlier church. However, most of what we see today dates from the 15th century. During medieval times Tenby was a busy port, and money was available to transform the church. Tenby was a popular seaside resort during Victorian times, and the 1850s saw the influence of that in the church where many changes were made.

The large south porch of the church was constructed around 1500 as a main entrance from St George street. The sundial and parapet were restored in 1726, and the inner doorway in the same century. A small 13th century window is above the door. The tower dates from the late 13th century. On the first floor is a stone altar and piscina. The parapet is 83 feet high, and the 15th century spire is 152 feet high.

The west door was once the inner doorway of a two-storey porch that was destroyed in 1831. There are inscriptions around the head. The wall west of the church is ruinous. It has two decorative arched doorways and window-heads. This was once a two-storey building for priests and perhaps a school.

The chancel dates from the 13th century and the tower is incorporated into the south side. It was enlarged around 1470 with the addition of the steps on the east side and the raising of the walls for the wagon roof. The chancelís panelled ceiling was restored in 1961-62. Look for the 75 original bosses carved into designs that include a mermaid. The choir stalls were built in 1903.

St Thomasís chapel was added to the church in the mid 15th century. In it are memorials that include two tombs of 15th century mayors. A west porch was demolished. St Nicholasís chapel was added 1475-80. There are memorials here as well.

The north aisle of the church was added in the early 15th century, with the arches inserted in the north wall of the older nave. There are no capitals on the arches. In the north aisle are two tomb recesses with effigies. The large south aisle is a 15th century amalgamation of a narrow aisle with chapel and small porch. The west window dates from the 15th century and is the only surviving one not touched by the Victorians.

There is a ring of eight bells. The plate of the church includes an Elizabethan cup and a cover-paten dated 1599, a 1698 silver flagon, 18th century salvers and patens, and a chalice and paten of 1874.

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