St Mary’s Church, Caernarfon

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St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Caernarfon

This church was built in the early 14th century to provide a chapel for soldiers garrisoned in the recently built walled town. It was a chapel of ease to the parish church of Llanbeblig, well outside the walled town. It was designed by Henry de Ellerton, deputy master mason for the construction works at Caernarfon. His work is still to be seen inside the church, since the outside appearance is largely the result of rebuilding from c.1811.

The church nestles into a corner of the town walls, which form the church’s north and west walls. Just outside the walled town, beyond the Church Street arch, you can look back at the unusual sight of three arched church windows in a medieval defensive wall. The tower just beyond the windows, protecting the corner where two sections of the town walls meet, houses the church’s vestry. This is known as the Bell Tower.

The church blocks the postern gate, a small opening in the town walls which originally provided a route between the town and the adjacent quay.

In the south wall is a Jesse window, which depicts Jesus Christ’s ancestral connection to Jesse, a figure in the Old Testament. The window was created in 1910 by the Westlake studio of London in memory of a recently deceased member of the Coed Helen family, whose coat of arms features in the window. The Coed Helen estate mostly lay on the opposite side of the Seiont river from the castle.

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