Conwy – church of St Mary and All Saints

History

The church of St. Mary and All Saints in Conwy was erected as a temple of Aberconwy Abbey, a Cistercian foundation from 1186-1197, formed on the initiative of Rhodri ab Owain Gwynedd, Lord of Arfon. He was the husband of the daughter of Prince Lord Rhys, the founder of the Strata Florida Abbey, from which monks had just arrived to Aberconwy. Later, the abbey church was the burial place of many Gwynedd princes, including Gruffydd ap Cynan, Llewelyn ap Maelgwyn, Llywelyn the Great (Llywelyn ab Iorwerth) and his sons. It became a parish church after the English conquest in 1283, when the abbey was moved to Maenan, 12 km south. The transfer was carried out by order of King Edward I, probably because of the close relationship of monks with the Welsh dynasty. There was no place for them in the new town of Conwy, the symbol of English domination over the Welsh.
   In the fourteenth century, due to the town’s development, the church was significantly expanded, and subsequent transformations took place also in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. As in most Welsh and English churches, a thorough renovation of the building was carried out in the nineteenth century.

Architecture

   From the end of the thirteenth century, the church consisted of a three-aisle nave, a shorter chancel ended with a straight wall from the east with buttresses, sacristy on the north side and a tower added on the western side of the temple. The central nave had a length of four bays, while the aisles were shorter. In the 14th century, the southern transept and the north and south porch were added. The room north of the tower then served as a charnel house (mortuary). In the fifteenth century, the tower was finally finished and beautiful rood screen, preserved to this day, was installed inside the temple. In the sixteenth century, the roofs of the side aisles were raised.

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bibliography:
Burton J., Stöber K., Abbeys and Priories of Medieval Wales, Chippenham 2015.

Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Mary and All Saints church Conwy, Formarly Aberconwy Abbey.