Carmarthen – St Peter’s Church

History

   The first information about the church in Carmarthen comes from the beginning of the 12th century, when it was given to the Battle Abbey in England. This original church was significantly rebuilt and enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries, and then in the 15th and early 16th centuries. During the dissolution of monasteries in the 16th century, the church became the property of the Crown. The Consistory Courts of the Chancellor of the Diocese of St Davids took place there, and bishop Robert Ferrar was also tried in it in 1555. Accused of heresy, he was then burnt on the market. In the 18th century, the church received a new sacristy, some interiors were also transformed and a decorative battlement on the tower was built. In 1816, the church was under the patronage of St David’s College in Lampeter until in the early 1900s it came under the bishops of St Davids. In the meantime, in the 19th century, a thorough renovation was carried out, during which most of the windows were replaced.

Architecture

   The church at the end of the Middle Ages, as a result of several construction works, achieved the form of a stately building with a rich architectural layout. It then consists of a long, five-bay rectangular nave, a narrower but quite elongated three-bay chancel on the eastern side, a four-sided tower on the west side and the northern arm of the transept (these parts were built in the 13th and 14th centuries).
   On the south side there was a side aisle, the western part of which could use fragments of the old church from the 12th century. In the eastern part it was extended in the 15th century, so that it almost reached the eastern end of the chancel. This eastern end was used as a chapel, while most of the south aisle was opened onto the nave with five pointed arcades based on polygonal pillars.
   At the end of the Middle Ages, the walls of the nave and chancel were also raised to be level with the new aisle, and a southern porch was erected. Ultimately, the internal length of the church from the western part of the nave to the eastern end of the chancel reached 52 meters, making the church one of the longest temples in Wales. The width of both nave and aisle was 15 meters.

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bibliography:
Salter M., The old parish churches of South-West Wales, Malvern 2003.

Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Peter’s church, Carmarthen.
Website wikipedia.org, St Peter’s church, Carmarthen.