Haverfordwest – St Martin’s Church


   St. Martin parish church is considered the oldest temple in Haverfordwest, founded around 1120 in connection with the construction of the nearby castle, ten years after the town was founded. It was mentioned in written sources in 1256. In the fourteenth century it was thoroughly rebuilt, and additionally enlarged in the fifteenth century by a tower and at the beginning of the sixteenth century by a side aisle.
    Like many other medieval churches in the nineteenth century, it was in poor condition. Victorian renovations were carried out in the years 1839-1840, when, unfortunately, the original capitals of the chancel arch were destroyed. Further works were carried out in 1862-1865. At that time, the roofs, inter-nave arcades, window jambs were replaced and a northern aisle was added at the chancel. In 1869-1870 the spire on the church tower was rebuilt.


   The original church, orientated towards the cardinal sides of the world, consisted of a rectangular nave of dimensions 22.9 x 8.2 meters, slightly narrower and lower, also a rectangular chancel on the eastern side, of dimensions 13.7 x 5.5 meters, and the southern porch.
   Since the 15th century on the west facade of the nave there was a four-sided tower with sides of 5.3 meters, typical Pembrokeshire construction, with facades pierced only by small slit holes, topped with a parapet on protruding corbels and a high spire. At the beginning of the 16th century, the church was enlarged by an oblong southern aisle (14.6 x 4.6 meters), located asymmetrically by the nave and chancel.
   Inside, the church was decorated with many 14th-century architectural details: niches with crowns of  trefoil and ogee arches in the porch, sedillia topped with ogee arches mounted on six-sided shafts with cylindrical bases, piscine with decoration in Gothic crockets and a tall, pointed shaped chancel arcade separating the main nave from the chancel.

Current state

   The church underwent several modernization works in the early modern period, which partially changed its medieval form. First of all, an annex was added to the northern wall of the chancel, roofs and a roof truss, inter-nave arcades and window frames were replaced. The spire of the tower also had to be rebuilt. On the other hand, a chancel arcade has survived, but without damaged capitals, Gothic recesses in the porch, three-part sedilia and piscina in the chancel.

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Salter M., The old parish churches of South-West Wales, Wolverhampton 2003.
The Royal Commission on The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions in Wales and Monmouthshire. An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, VII County of Pembroke, London 1925.

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of Saint Martin of Tours A Grade II* Listed Building in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
Website haverfordwestcivicsociety.org.uk, St. Martin’s Church.