St Mary's, Newtowncustom_image

Situated on the banks of the Severn, the old church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built of stone from the river bed and consisted of a double aisle surmounted by a wooden belfry at the North West angle, typical of Montgomeryshire churches.  It has been dated as 13th century.

During the next century a carved wooden rood screen was erected between chancel and nave, the work of craftsmen known as the "Newtown School of carvers". Other examples of their work exist at Llanwnog and Llananno.  custom_image(The screen is pictured below, in a photograph taken by Richard Wheeler in 2014.  Richard Weeler is author of "The Medieval Church Screens of the Southren Marhes", Logaston Press, 2006.

 

When the church was finally abandoned in 1856 the screen was removed to the Rectory and stored there until it was eventually used to construct the Lady Chapel in the new pcustom_imagearish church and dedicated by the Bishop of the Diocese in July 1938. The old font was also taken to the new building.

In the body of the church stands a mausoleum erected over the tomb of the Pryce family in 1900.

The church was subject to constant flooding from the nearby river which weakened the fabric and led to its decay and eventual abandonment; although mission services were held in the Tower during the summer months for about 10 years prior to the turn of the century.

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Alongside the South wall stands the Tomb of Robert Owen (1771-1858), the social reformer and educationist, a native of the town.  In 1902 the co-operative movement erected the railings and bronze plaques around the Tomb as a memorial to him. The churchyard gates were given by his son, Mr. Dale Owen.

By the 1930's the building had become very dilapidated, the roof had collapsed and the burial ground overgrown, but around 1938 the incumbent and a number of other public spirited townsfolk set up a committee to restore the Tower and lay out the grounds as a public garden using public subscriptions to finance the work.  On July 27th, 1978 the area was formally handed over to the Town Council on a 99 year lease who undertook to carry out regular maintenance to provide this quiet oasis in the town centre.

custom_imageTo the South East lies an area occupied till the late 1930's by a row of small black and white cottages and adjacent to them stood a large tannery. This was demolished in 1983 and the site used to develop a housing complex to be named St. Mary's Close. Architects : Mid Wales Development Corporation. Builders : Evans & Owen, Caersws.

 

 

 

(extracted from A brief history of the Buildings of the Church in the Parishes of Newtown & Llanlwlchaiarn by H.N. Oliver)

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