The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Haverfordwest.
The history of this magnificent Grade One listed Church is closely linked with the history of the town of Haverfordwest and the county of Pembroke. There are just three Grade One places in the town, the remains of the Castle, the remains of the Priory, and St Mary’s Church.
St Mary’s Church is a large and very fine Early English church with later perpendicular additions, which is generally agreed to be one of the best medieval parish churches in Wales. It played a key role in the development of the thriving, fortified medieval town and port which is Haverfordwest. The fine organ, dating from 1737, is probably the oldest still in use in Wales. The medieval stone carving is amongst the best in the principality. The town clock in the tower and the fine peal of bells mark time for the town.
St Mary’s Church is a fine example of the Decorated style of architecture but its foundations are much older and the remains of a Norman church are incorporated in the massively thick south wall. The north aisle was added during the c13. The arches between the nave and the north aisle are fine examples of Early English stonework. Entry to the church is through the north porch which, with the tower and the south porch, was also added during the c13. Most of the windows in the church are Perpendicular although the glass is modern.
The oldest church brass in the county, an epitaph to John Davids, Mayor of Haverfordwest in 1642, and his wife Sage, can be seen on the south wall of the chancel. The inscriptions on the many marble tablets make interesting reading for visitors with time to inspect them. The fine oak panelled roof dates from the c16 and the Tudor rose is frequently seen in the carving. Its corbels are representations of men’s heads on the south side and women’s heads on the north side. The church has the oldest church registers in Pembrokeshire dating from 1590. These are deposited in the County Records Office in Haverfordwest. The organ is the largest in the county except for that in St David’s Cathedral.
The church is described in:-
- the Pevsner Architectural Guide, The Buildings of Wales series, Pembrokeshire, published in 2004 by Yale University Press.
- Wales’s Best One Hundred Churches by TJ Hughes, published in 2006 by Seren Books.
- WALES, Churches, Houses and Castles by Simon Jenkins, published in 2008 by Allen Lane.
We hope you will visit this special church and enjoy its peace and tranquility for a while. We would be pleased if you would help us with a donation towards the continuing work of maintaining it.