St Mary’s Church, New Radnor

St Mary’s Church, New Radnor

At least three churches have existed in this vicinity. The first one was significant enough for Gerald of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury to begin their journey through Wales here in 1188.

The churchyard nestles on the hillside below the remains of the Norman castle. The first church was a chapel for the castle’s occupants and residents of the new borough. Church records from 1291 list the church as Ecclia de Radenore Nova.

A new parish church was built in the 14th century by William Bachefield and “Flory his wyfe”. It may have co-existed for centuries with the old church (as the castle’s chapel).

The present church was built in the 1840s. Little remains today of the earlier buildings. The communion rails include parts of a medieval screen. Inside are two medieval effigies which were found in the churchyard, hence their rather worn condition.

In March 1188 a group of Christian leaders made New Radnor the first stop on their journey around Wales to recruit men to the third crusade. They included Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury. His guide was Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), who kept a journal of the entire trip.

The group was accompanied on its first leg, from Hereford to New Radnor, by Ranulph de Glanville, a member of the King’s Privy Council. At New Radnor the group was joined by nobles including Rhys ap Gruffydd (Lord Rhys), who ruled South Wales and captured New Radnor Castle in 1196.

Baldwin gave a sermon on “taking the Cross” (signing up to the crusade), then Gerald threw himself at the Archbishop’s feet and took the sign of the cross. (A cross symbol would later have been stitched to his clothes.) Peter de Leia, Bishop of St Davids, did the same, as did some of the nobles. The group celebrated mass the next morning, before continuing to Crug Eryr Castle (now a grassy mound by the A44 road) and on to Hay-on-Wye.

Postcode: LD8 2SS    View Location Map

With thanks to Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust

Parish website