St Mary's Church - Serving Tenby for over 800 years
The majority of the remaining building dates from the 15th century with some features retained from the 13th century. There is believed to have been a church on the site since Norman times, and Gerald of Wales is counted as the earliest Rector of Tenby.
The 13th Century chancel has a 'wagon' roof and the panelled ceiling has 75 bosses carved in a variety of designs including foliage, grotesques, fishes, a mermaid, and a green man, as well as the figure of Jesus surrounded by the four Apostles. St. Thomas' Chapel was added in the mid-15th Century, and the St. Nicholas Chapel was added c. 1485. The spire is also a 15th-century addition. Inside the church is a 15th-century font and a 15th-century bell, cast with the letters 'Sancta Anna'.
The tower is positioned to one side of the chancel and dates from the late 13th century. The first floor served as a chapel, and still has a stone altar and piscina in place. The church has two fonts, one dating from the 15th century and another late Gothic example from the 19th century.
The church contains several memorials, including the tombs of Thomas and John White, both Mayors of Tenby in the fifteenth century. Thomas White was famous for hiding a young Henry Tudor from King Richard III. There is also a wall tablet in memory of Robert Recorde, an Elizabethan scholar, who introduced the equals sign ( = ) to mathematical calculation.
The church was Grade I listed in 1951, being of exceptional architectural and historical interest. In the churchyard, 20 metres west of the church, are the remains of what is believed to be a late 15th-century choir school or college. The wall includes a pointed arched doorway. These remains are Grade II* listed.
The figure of Christus Rex was given to St Alban’s Church, Llanelli, by Canon D.T. Davies. “Canon DT”, as he was affectionately known, had retired to Llanelli from his last parish in Holyhead, and he commissioned the Christus Rex when his wife Lena died in 1972 and presented it to St Alban’s Church in her loving memory.
The Sculptor of this fine piece was Jonah Jones, 1919-2004, who, although originally from Co. Durham (now Tyne and Wear) and attended school in Jarrow, spent most of his working life in Wales and became known as “The Welsh Sculptor”. In 2004 Jones he was awarded posthumously the Honorary Membership of the Royal Society of Architects, Wales. His other works include Madonna & Child in Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire, a stained glass window in Ratcliffe College Chapel, Leicestershire, and other works in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Newport; the National Museum, Cardiff; Coleg Harlech, Gwynedd; and Mold Crown Court, Flintshire.
Caldey Local Ministry Area News
St Mary’s Tenby - The Soupermen 10 years on
In 2008, as Harvest Thanksgiving approached, I had the idea to call together a group of men to put on a Harvest Supper at St Mary’s.
I advertised for men in the Pew Leaflet, fixed a date for a meeting, and waited. I was delighted that about a dozen enthusiastic men turned up for the meeting, and the ensuing Harvest Supper was a great success, the men feeding nearly 100 guests with a three-course meal.
But once Harvest was over we realised that we had something special here - we had hit on a rich seam of talent and enthusiasm, and there was immediately a sense of belonging. In church life we tend to have more practical happenings for women, but here was a group of men who had found a niche and a role with exciting possibilities and implications.
Archbishop Rowan in 2010 with some of the Soupermen:
Andrew Griffiths, Terry Evans, Bradley Davies, and Denis Chiffi
So the men just couldn’t leave it there. That Harvest Supper was not going to be a one-off. Regular meetings began to be arranged, because of their excellent soup they were named The Soupermen, and there have followed over the years a series of food-based events - banquets, Easter and Christmas dinners, barbecues, film nights (with food!), Alpha course, Lent lunches, etc. And all their proceeds go to local charities.
The Soupermen have grown in numbers and have become an integral part of our church life, with their own strong visionary leaders and social life. Their annual outing this year was to Ireland (almost adding even more complications to the Brexit negotiations!). And they have provided not just wonderful dinners and events but have encouraged and enabled our large congregation to get to know each other and to develop our fellowship and outreach, to such an extent that, for example, the recent Easter Dinner felt like a happy family gathering, and our guests could see that Church is extremely enjoyable!
In 2010 our guest preacher at St Mary’s 800th Anniversary Service was the then Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams. The Soupermen provided refreshments on the church lawn, and that day Archbishop Rowan became an Honorary Souperman! – marking the high-point of his career!
As we celebrate the Soupermen’s 10th anniversary this year,
Archbishop Rowan is coming back to celebrate and preach
again - this time for the anniversary not of St Mary’s but of
the Soupermen. All are most welcome to join us for this
Sung Eucharist in St Mary’s at 10 a.m. on 26th August. This
service is to be a gathering of all the churches in the Caldey
Ministry Area, so St Mary’s looks forward to welcoming that
morning the churches of New Hedges, Gumfreston, Penally,
St Julian’s, St Florence, and St James’ Manorbier.
All are welcome!
Canon Andrew Grace, Rector of Tenby, Caldey LMA Leader
St Mary's Charitable Giving
Each year the Parochial Church Council of St. Mary’s Church, Tenby, supports a variety of charities, local, national and international. As a Christian community we also continue to remain committed to maintain and enhance the beautiful church buildings within our care.
On Sunday, 27th May, Trinity Sunday, representatives of some of these charities joined the Eucharist congregation and were presented with generous cheques by the Rector, Canon Andrew Grace. The administration of the charitable giving project requires considerable effort and dedication and, with the support of treasurer, David Morgan, this is undertaken each year by Rector’s Warden, Nicole Evans.
Some of the charities in receipt of donations this year, representatives of which are pictured with Rector Andrew are : Tenby Scout and Guide Hall, Friends of the Community, Paul Sartori Foundation, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, The Salvation Army, Unique – a charity dealing with rare chromosome disorders, Pembrokeshire Voluntary Transport, H.O.P.E. Sea Cadets, Air Cadets, Welsh Air Ambulance, Huntington’s Disease Association and The Donkey Sanctuary.
Funds are being presented at a later date to several other very worthy causes, including Malaria No More, Pembrokeshire MIND, Alzheimer’s UK and Tenby Church in Wales Primary School. The church continues to support Christian Aid as well as caravan holidays for needy families. We feel that this is an essential part of our mission, and we are grateful that the revenue from the Rectory car-park enables us to help so many worthwhile causes.
Donations from this year’s Memorial Posy Festival, in its 20 th year, being held between June 28 th and July 1 st , will be made to Diabetes UK and SNAP Cymru.
Black Snow by Malcom Stacey - available now!
Be the first in your street to read it. Be the first in your street to talk about it…
Black Snow by Malcolm Stacey is a very unusual book. Though it’s a horror/ghost/crime blockbuster, it is very much about Tenby. St Mary’s Church is one of its main settings.
Though the novel is chiefly in the present day, that fabulous story of the future Henry VII hiding out in Tenby cellars from the vengeful men-at-arms of the future Richard III is brought to life.
There are also many facts and legends about Tenby and surrounding areas included in the thrilling plot.
Making the novel really unusual is the inclusion of nearly 50 real-life Tenby people, most of whom are named. Though of course their thoughts and actions are purely fictitious.
It’s an intelligent book with no graphic violence. But it is frightening.
A great souvenir of Tenby, but don’t read it at night!
The established author is a member of this church and secretary of Tenby Christian Aid. Profits from sales in this church will go to that worthwhile charity.
If you’d like a copy of Black Snow for £10, you should find the book on sale in St Mary’s.
Alternatively, please email Malcolm at email@example.com (for profits to go to Christian Aid)
Or order through Amazon (in the normal way), where there is also a Kindle version at £1.99.
Palm Sunday and Barney the Donkey
Here are some pictures from our Palm Sunday procession through Tenby, on Sunday 25th March 2018.
Welcome baby Tirzah!
We are very pleased to hear that Joel and Eleri have given birth to Tirzah, 6 lbs 6 oz, and very pleased too to hear that mother and daughter (and father!) are doing very well. Tirzah was born yesterday at about 5 p.m. Eliana has gone off with Daddy this morning to meet her new sister!
As Tenby Benefice and Friends of St Mary's and friends in the wider Caldey Ministry Area, we congratulate and send our love and best wishes to Eleri, Joel, Eliana and Tirzah at this wonderful and beautiful time for them, and we look forward to seeing them all before too long.
Lunch Out to Feed the World’s Hungry.
There’s a chance for Tenby and surrounding villages to support starving children and their parents on every Wednesday during Lent - and have a delicious snack as well.
A trio of Tenby churches - St John’s, the Salvation Army and St Mary’s - are holding their annual Lent lunches in the six week run up to Easter.
The lunch is a frugal one to highlight Lent’s traditional themes of preparation for Easter and denial. On offer is home-made soup, a roll and a cuppa.
The suggested price is £5. But if you can give more, it will go directly to help starving families everywhere.
Malcolm Stacey, Tenby secretary of Christian Aid, said ‘Our lunches have the twin benefits of dining with old friends and new, while helping all those who are struggling just to live.
‘All money raised will go to a our charity which has a good reputation for sending money directly to those who really need it. Some are enduring famine, others are trying to cope with bombs falling all around them.'
The first lunch, beginning at noon until 2pm, is in Church House at St Mary's on Wednesday February 21, The second and third lunches are at the Salvation Army Hall on Wednesday February 28th and March 7th.
The fourth and fifth lunches are at St John’s Church Hall on March 14th and 21st. And the final lent meal is at St Mary’s Church House on March 28th.
Anyone who hasn’t time to eat, is invited to leave money at the door. Or with the Christian Aid secretary at 9 Crackwell Street. Tenby.
Advent Sunday Confirmation Celebration
From left to right - William Cahill, Ellie Davies, Nan Dowell, The Bishop of St. Davids The Right Reverend Joanna Penberthy,
Joshua Geertman, Curate Joel Barder, Melanie Paassen and Ellie Pearson.
“God has called you by name and made you His own”. These inspirational words express the meaning, truth and significance of Sunday’s Confirmation celebration at the first Sunday of Advent benefice service at St. Mary’s Church. Five candidates were in attendance to receive confirmation of their decision to formally enter membership of the church and were presented to The Bishop of St. Davids, The Right Reverend Joanna Penberthy during the Holy Eucharist. The candidates this year were William Cahill, Ellie Davies, Joshua Geertman, Melanie Paassen and Ellie Pearson. The young people were prepared for Confirmation by our Sunday Club leader, Nan Dowell, assisted by Curate Joel Barder. This was a truly joyous and uplifting event for Advent Sunday, at which time we prepare for the wonders of the birth of Jesus, a king born in a humble stable over two thousand years ago. Bishop Joanna spoke with great enthusiasm about the significance of Confirmation, it being the beginning of adult life within the church. She explained to us all, and particularly the candidates, about the meaning and relevance of God’s Holy Spirit being freely given to us all in our individual lives.
Children all over Pembrokeshire and, of course, all over the world, are already anticipating 25th December with growing excitement, with the prospect of the gifts they hope to receive. The enormous generosity of our community was again demonstrated on Sunday, when a mountain of beautiful gifts for children were on display in church. PATCH is a local charity, supporting families throughout the county who are suffering hardship and deprivation in its many forms. Its annual Toy Appeal was launched at the end of October and it was decided that this truly worthy cause would again be supported by the benefice. PATCH representatives, Tracy and Jan, attended the service on Sunday to receive the gifts and expressed their delight and amazement at the quantity of toys which had been donated.
The music for the service was arranged by Dr. John Harrison and Mark Thompson, with the organist being Clive Raymond in Dr. John’s forced absence, due to illness. We all send our good wishes to him, with prayers for a speedy recovery and return to St. Mary’s. The entire service was enhanced by the splendid renditions offered by the choir, particularly the motet, Come Down, O Love Divine. Following the service special celebratory cakes were served to the candidates, their friends and families and benefice members, bringing to a close a most enjoyable and important occasion.
Details of all events and services throughout Advent may be viewed on the notice board outside church and can also be found on the weekly pew leaflet and the church website.
St. Mary’s MU Support Plant Dewi Baby Bundle Project
At a recent meeting of St. Mary’s Mothers’ Union Samantha Duggan, the area representative of Plant Dewi, was warmly welcomed by all of our members. Sam is the brains behind the excellent Baby Bundle scheme, a project to support vulnerable families within the diocese of St. Davids. After a first class presentation concerning the work of Plant Dewi, Samantha was delighted to accept the tremendous quantity of clothes and equipment which had been collected in order to support this essential scheme. Our leader, Ellen, along with the committee members, would like to sincerely thank members of MU, parishioners at St. Mary’s and friends in the wider community for their generosity and kindness shown in providing so many items for new babies whose families need a helping hand at a very expensive time.
Samantha Duggan is seen at the centre of the group of MU members, displaying some of the beautiful clothing donated.
The New Bishop of St David's visits St Mary's
Sunday 3rd September a special day at St Mary`s Church Tenby. The first visit of Bishop Joanna, Bishop of St Davids many visitors joined our church family for our Patronal festival and to celebrate the work of The Friends of St Mary`s. During the service representatives of Dementia UK and Tenby Talking books accepted cheques for £1800 each towards the wonderful work they do. This money was from donations given during our Posy Festival held earlier in the summer.
Samantha Duggan is seen at the centre of the group of MU members, displaying some of the beautiful clothing donated.
Joel Barder's Ordination
Here are some photographs to celebrate Joel Barder's ordination at the Cathedral, and his first Holy Eucharist in St Mary's Church on 25th June 2017. We all wish you many congratulations Joel!