Newport – St Woolos Cathedral


Church of St. Woolos in Newport was erected in the 11th century on the site of a chapel from around the 5th-6th century. According to tradition, prince Gwynllyw (whose name was later distorted to Woolos) built his penitential cell on Stow Hill, and when he died at the beginning of the sixth century, a timber church was built near his grave, which became a place of pilgrimage. When the church was burnt, it was rebuilt in Anglo-Saxon times as a stone building. Around 1080, the Norman conquerors erected a new nave with the chapel of St. Mary, who absorbed the previous building. In 1405, the church of St. Woolos was destroyed during the Welsh uprising of Owain Glyndŵr. During the repair of the destructions, the temple was considerably expanded. In the years 1818-1819, the building was restored, and in 1853, the medieval porch was demolished and a new one was erected. Also the presbytery was rebuilt at that time. In 1913, the architect William Davies built the sacristy, while in 1960-1962 the presbytery was pulled down and rebuilt.


The church has an atypical layout, since the 11th-century rectangular five-span nave is connected to the western tower through the chapel of St. Mary. This chapel was erected in the 11th century, but it has relics of walls from the pre-Norman period. Around 1200, its walls were raised. The quadrilateral west tower, called the Jasper Tower, together with the corner communication turret was built in the fifteenth century. Also at that time, the north and south aisles and a two-level south porch were added. The eastern part of the church ends with a chancel, the present form of which is the result of the 19th-century rebuilding. Also, all the windows of the naves and presbytery were transformed in the Victorian and early twentieth century. Inside, the 15th century piscina and the late medieval roof truss in the central nave and aisles are worth attention. The biggest treasure of the church, however, is the romanesque portal from the 11th century, separating the nave from the chapel of St. Mary. Roman columns and capitals from nearby Caerleon are incorporated into it.

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