The church of St. Mary in Carew was erected in the first half of the 14th century and it was originally dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. From this period (around 1340) the chancel and perhaps the northern transept come from. The nave was added in the middle of the fifteenth century. The side aisles, the porch and the tower were added at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries on the initiative of Rhys ap Thomas, the landholder at the castle of Carew. Probably also at that time a burial chapel was erected next to the church. The sacristy was added around the 17th and 18th centuries. The church was restored in 1852, according to designs of George Gilbert Scott and again in 1890.
The church consists of a 15th-century rectangular nave and a slightly shorter chancel from the 14th-century, also on the rectangular plan. A side aisle from the 15th century adjoins the southern wall of the nave, covered with a separate gable roof. Also on the northern side, an aisle with a separate gable roof was added. However, it is shorter, because from the north-eastern corner of the nave protrudes, formed earlier, rectangular transept.
On the west side, at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, a tower was added, giving the church a style closer to English Gothic than other nearby Welsh churches. It has a corner buttresses, north-east turret with a staircase and it is topped with battlement. Along with the construction of the tower, the southern entrance to the aisle was preceded by a late-medieval porch.
Next to the church there is a free-standing mortuary, also known as a chapel ot the oratory. This small building was erected on a rectangular plan with walls 1.2 meters thick. It has a vaulted undercroft and a floor topped with a timber roof truss with collar beams.
Despite the Victorian renovation and the addition of an early modern sacristy, the church has retained its medieval form with a rich layout, resulting from multiple enlargements of the building. Inside the church, you can see the effigie of Nicholas de Carew from the fourteenth century, the owner and one of the initiators of the expansion of the nearby castle, the effigie of an unknown priest from the fourteenth century and a triple sedilia in the presbytery.
Salter M., The old parish churches of South-West Wales, Wolverhampton 2003.
Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Old Mortuary Chapel A Grade I Listed Building in Carew, Pembrokeshire.
Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church Of St. Mary A Grade I Listed Building in Carew, Pembrokeshire.
Website stmaryscarew.com, The Beginnings.