St Mary’s Church, Welshpool

PWMP logoSt Mary’s Church, Welshpool

This oldest parts of this church date from the 13th century, when a simple rectangular building with a tower was erected on the hillside. The body of the church and the tower were extended over later centuries.

Some of the rebuilding works were in response to damage, including after a fire which affected much of Welshpool in 1665. Earlier that century the church organ was wrecked by Puritans. The current organ was built by the great Victorian organ builder Henry “Father” Willis.

In the 18th century there were complaints that “the very common sort of people” went to the gallery at the east end of the church on the pretext of singing psalms but caused commotions there, with some people spitting on the heads of worshippers below!

In the early 15th century the priest here was Adam of Usk. His chronicles are an important historical source, providing information about Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion, among other things.

Another literary figure associated with the church is William Morgan, who completed the first Welsh translation of the Bible in 1588. He was vicar here from 1575 to 1578. There’s a memorial to him in the church.

The oldest object inside is a 1597 memorial to Sir Edward Herbert, a nephew of King Henry VIII. He was the first of the Herberts to live at Powis Castle. A later member of the family, Edward James Herbert (1818-1891), is commemorated by a chest tomb with an alabaster effigy depicting him in academic costume. He was high steward of Cambridge University and Bangor University’s first president.

Another memorial honours members of the Montgomeryshire Yemonary who died in the First World War. A brass plaque commemorates Captain Andrew Gordon Reed, who was killed in action in 1915 at Gallipoli, during the Allies’ futile attempt to invade Turkey. His father Samuel was rector of Llangynyw. His brother, the Rev J Bennett Reed, was an army chaplain in the war.

The town’s main war memorial is in the churchyard, commemorating men from across the district who died in both world wars. There are five First World War graves in the churchyard, and two Second World War graves – see below for details.

With thanks to Roger Brown and Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust

Postcode: SY21 7DP    View Location Map

Parish website

More about the church on CPAT’s website


First World War graves in churchyard

Baines, A Ernest, Serjeant 355037. Died 15/08/1917 aged 36. Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Son of Pryce Baines, of Welshpool; husband of Fanny Maria Baines, of 2 Drinkwater Street, Mountfields, Shrewsbury. Lived at Powis Arms Yard. Died from the effects of exposure following the sinking of the troop transport ship Ivernia (a Cunard liner) in January 1917.

Jones, Robert Harold, Sapper WR/44075. Died 02/06/1919 aged 19. Royal Engineers. Son of Thomas William and Annie Jones, of 18 Queens Cottage, Horton, Wellington, and the late Thomas William Jones. Born in Welshpool.

Matthews, G, Gunner 35599. Died 10/12/1918 aged 28. Royal Garrison Artillery. Son of Richard and Jane Matthews, of Glyn Golfa, Welshpool; husband of Hilda Matthews.

Morris, Alfred, Private 9046. Died 19/04/1916 aged 29. Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Son of Richard and Elizabeth Morris.

Roberts, TD, Private 1919. Died 24/08/1921. Montgomeryshire Yeomanry.

Second World War graves in churchyard

Cerrone, Albert Edward, Private 4531766. Died 02/06/1945. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own). Husband of DM Cerrone, of Welshpool.

Jones, Noel George, Leading Aircraftman 614337. Died 06/11/1940 aged 27. Royal Air Force. Son of Alfred and Agnes Jane Jones, of Welshpool.