Description: Church of Saint Mary in Liberty
Date Listed: 19 March 1951
Cadw Building ID: 6177
OS Grid Coordinates: 213424, 200447
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6713, -4.6985
In a prominent position on the SW side of the High Street just NW of Tudor Square.
Anglican parish church, mostly C15, but recorded from c1210. The early C13 church was probably a nave and chancel with narrow S aisle. In late C13 the tower on the S side of the chancel was added, the S aisle rebuilt and also the chancel. There were transeptal chapels to the N and S at about this time. Little remains visible of the C13: a lancet over the S porch, originally lighting the transeptal chapel whose gable was embedded in the wider C15 aisle, and a reset piscina in the S chancel aisle. Major rebuilding in the C15 began with the N arcade and N aisle, then a transeptal chapel W of the tower and a SE chapel alongside the chancel with 2-bay arcade. About 1450 the nave S arcade was replaced similar to the SE chapel arcade and a SW chapel built parallel with the S aisle. The chancel was rebuilt with higher walls and extended E with a sanctuary raised over an undercroft. The chancel had a loft chapel at the W end, lit by clerestorey windows, as shown from blocked beam holes and the lower part of an upper door visible in the S aisle. This explains the height of the chancel and the lowness of the later N chancel aisle. The chancel roof is dated to c1470. This was followed by the re-roofing of the nave, the removal of the chancel arch, and the enlargement of the S aisle such that a new S wall encompassed the 3 added S chapels. The NE chapel was added c1480 with 3 arches to the chancel and one to the N aisle. At the end of the C15 the broach spire was added and also the S porch and a W porch (removed in 1831). A datestone of 1496 in the SE chapel probably comes from the W porch. and also refers to the college, the ruin of a chantry in the churchyard, that must be of similar date as the details match the W door. Post Reformation features include the pulpit dated 1634 and some rebuilding of the S porch parapet in the C18 with sundial dated 1726. Some earlier C19 work, including re-roofing of N aisle in 1846-8 and restoring of 2 S windows.
Major restoration 1855-69 by David Brandon, begun in 1855-6 with chancel roof repairs, new E window with glass by Wailes, and fittings including rails and reredos (since removed). The S aisle windows were replaced in 1859 and the SE chapel restored with new windows in 1860. Window over the S door 1861. In 1862-3 the N porch was added and the N aisle windows replaced. From 1863-5 dates the restoration of the nave roof, further windows and new pews. In 1866-7 the churchyard was railed. In 1869 the organ was moved from the W gallery to under the tower, to allow for a new W window with glass by Clayton & Bell.
In 1882-4 under J P Seddon the SE vestry with sacristy below was rebuilt with new E gable and the NE chapel E end remodelled to match. In 1887 three W end galleries were removed, and a new font by F A Walters given. In 1888 the bells were restored and the tower clock installed. In 1892 an oak choir screen by A P Dawson was installed (moved to NE chapel 1908). In 1894 the NE chapel E window by W G Taylor was inserted and in 1899 a new altar below it (since removed). In 1903 choir stalls by E H Lingen Barker were installed, the 5 clerestorey windows reopened, and a brass rail and oak steps added to the 1897 brass lectern. In 1904 houses obscuring the E end were removed. In 1905 the rood loft stair was found in the tower, and a small window was reopened over the S door. In 1906 the old font was replaced in the SE chapel. In 1907 new altar rails (? now in NE chapel), in 1909 the chancel N window reopened, by J D Coleridge, with glass by Karl Parsons. Further altar steps and rails given in 1912 (also since gone). 1920 SW window war memorial stained glass by Kempe & Co. and c1920 fine N aisle window by Karl Parsons. In the 1960s much work by Alban Caroe including the rebuilding of the spire top, liming of the previously stained oak fittings, the replacement of matchboard panels in the chancel roof, gilding and decoration of the roofs.
Whitewashed plastered walls with ashlar dressings. Fine C15 panelled roofs with moulded ribs and carved diagonally-set square bosses. Nave has roof of 17 x 6 panels with carved bosses and towards E end C15 painted carved figure of Christ surrounded by 4 angels. Minimal ashlar chancel arch, pointed with continuous mouldings cut into the soffit, dying into walls. Earlier C15 N arcade of 5 bays with continuous mouldings, deep hollow with ogee each side. The first arch from E is wider, perhaps replaced. S arcade of slightly later C15 date has column shafts with hollows between, leaf capitals and ovolo-moulded arches with hoodmoulds and crude carved head stops. More ornate oak-leaf capitals on 2nd arch from E. First arch from E is C19, taller and wider.
Chancel is in 2 parts, W end possibly C13 raised and reroofed c1470 when chancel was lengthened with new sanctuary reached by impressive flight of 10 broad stone steps, raised over an undercroft. Later C15 roof of 15 x 6 panels on 16 painted timber angel supporters with shields, each side, on stone 5-sided corbels. Thick moulded ribs and finely carved bosses, some near E end with name of Archdeacon John Smith, rector 1461-75, and 5 replaced, one dated 1856. W half of chancel has 5 plain clerestorey 2-light stone-mullion windows with leaded glazing, 3 to N and 2 to S, that lit a removed first floor chantry. S side has plastered pointed arch opening into tower to left and C15 2-bay arcade, pointed, with column shafts, hollow-moulded diagonal faces, moulded round capitals with crude leaf carving. Arches are ovolo-hollow-ovolo moulded. 3-bay N arcade to NE chapel with column shafts and 5-sided capitals, similar to NE chapel W arch. Segmental-pointed low arches of ogee/hollow/ovolo section. Sanctuary reached up 10 steps has Tudor-arched S door to SE vestry, roll-and-hollow mould with diagonal stop. Blocked S window to left.
N aisle has C19 roof of 13 bays with arch-braced collar trusses. Fine recess with C15 crocketted canopy and finials to left of door, containing tomb chest with Gothic panels and effigy of cadaver of a priest. To right of door, a cruder ogee cusped C15 tomb recess and much damaged fine effigy of a lady, apparently C14. E arch is column shafted like N chancel arcade, with 5-sided capitals and hollow-mould between shafts. Pointed arch of ogee-hollow-ovolo section.
NE chapel of St Nicholas has C19 painted panelled roof, 10 x 6 panels.
S aisle has broad C15 roof of 17 moulded arch-braced collar trusses. Mark of an arched head to left of W window. S wall is battered to right, then stepped back, presumably rebuilt. Deep splayed reveal to lancet over S door, which has cambered head. Shelf recess under 3rd window. E gable is stepped below eaves level. Pointed plastered arch to tower with splayed right jamb within wider pointed arch also with splayed jamb. Similar arch on tower N side. Small arch-headed recess, the round arch possibly reused. Blank panel marks entry to rood-loft stair blocked in C15. Tower base has high octagonal plastered vault and blocked SW door.
SE St Thomas Chapel has C19 3-sided panelled ceiling with diagonal boarding. Small opening on corbels under eaves on N wall is lower half of access to removed chancel loft chapel (the medieval roof was higher). Trefoil-headed medieval piscina on S wall. C19 moulded doorcase on E wall with blind tracery over. Fragment of carved stone in tower arch with date 1496 in Arabic numerals, from demolished W porch.
SE sacristy has trilobe roof and moulded fireplace on left wall.
Fittings: Altar: medieval altar slab restored to use 1889. Fonts: in SE chapel big plain octagonal C15 font, restored to the church in 1906 from churchyard; in N aisle ornate ashlar octagonal font by F A Walters, 1887, late Gothic with carved panels, the Evangelist symbols and 4 scenes. Octagonal spired font cover in oak with lucarnes and dove finial. Screen: NE chapel has screen moved from chancel, 1892, by A P Dawson, made by Hems of Exeter: Perp-style, 5 bays with thickly traceried heads. Reredos: NE chapel early to mid C20 carved wood reredos with some gilding, and late medieval style figures of the Annunciation. Rails to NE chapel, Gothic, timber 1908. Pulpit: 1634, timber, 7 sides each with rusticated arches under shields, one with angel and date, C19 base. Lectern: 1897 brass eagle with oak steps and brass rail. Pews:1850s to 1860s, stripped and limed in 1960s. Stalls: ornate oak stalls of 1903 with poppy-head finials, traceried panels, and with curved-back seats at W ends. Organ: 1869 by Vowles of Bristol. C19 boards with 10 Commandments in SE chapel. Much woodwork in limed oak of the 1960s and later, by Alban Caroe: sanctuary rails and panelling in chancel and in NE chapel, inner S and N porches, wall panelling at W end, and screen to W tower arch.
Monuments: In NE chapel. The Scotsborough monument to Margaret wife of Thomas ap Rees of Scotsborough (d 1610). fine C17 memorial with recumbent figure of wife below kneeling figure of husband at prie-dieu, in armour, in Corinthian columned frame with panelled cornice and strapwork-framed coat of arms above. Tomb chest has small figures of 7 children. The Bishop Tully monument: ashlar tomb chest to Bishop Robert Tully of St Davids (d 1482) with marks of lost brass effigy and canopy. In SE chapel: White monuments: Two chest tombs with effigies to Thomas White (d 1482) and his son John (d c1507), finely carved figures in contemporary dress. Alabaster chests each with 4 canopied panels of kneeling figures, shields in end panels. William Risam (d 1633) kneeling figure at prie-dieu, damaged, in frame of paired columns each with single Ionic capital. Rodolphus Mercer (d 1613), tomb chest with 2-panel front and strapwork ornament, rear wall plaque with fragmentary framing. Eroded C15 female effigy on floor. Medieval tomb slab on W wall with relief portrait head, the inscription to Isabella Perrot, 1463, possibly added.
Memorials: Nave: W end plaques to Lt Col E Voyle (d 1834) by Williams of St Florence; Lt Col L E Bruce earlier C19 neo-Grec, by Rowland of Tenby; William Jones of Croft Terrace (d 1850), simple neo-classical, by J Rogers of Tenby. E wall to C Tuder (d 1840) simple neo-classical by Lewis of Cheltenham. N aisle: W end plaque to Peggy Davies, bathing woman, died in the water, 1809, still working aged 82. N wall: J Ackland of Amroth Castle (d 1820) neo-Grec; John Moore of Moorehayes, Devon (d 1639) ornate little alabaster-framed memorial with scroll pediment. To right of porch: G Day (d 1823) by D Mainwaring; Bessie Henderson (d 1919) fine tile panel (opus sectile) Faith flanked by angels, probably by Powell of Whitefriars; Elizabeth Briggs (d 1857) Gothic, by Rogers of Tenby. NE chapel: Harry Morgan c1840 by Williams; Thomas Sleeman JP (d 1855) neo-Grec by Rogers. C20 plaque below to Col James Sleeman (d 1889) Chief Superintendent for the Suppression of Thuggee. S aisle: from right: John Bennett (d 1824); beaten copper plaque to Dr D. Reid (d 1924); Col Charles Ferrior (d 1863), military uniform draped on pedestal, by Burke of London. In W tower arch fine Corinthian column memorial of 1737 to Thomas Rogers (d 1693), and in aisle E end: Capt J Griffiths (d 1826), black marble with white urn; Morgan Williams, Chief in Ganjam and Senior in council at Madras, (d 1790), pillars and open pediment; Anne Mallory (d 1822), neo-Grec, by Tyley of Bristol. SE chapel: E end Capt Bird Allen (d 1841) mourning african with Union Jack, by E Physick; fine memorial of 1778 to Major R Lort killed at Fontenoy, urn on grey marble pedestal, by James Gheys; Elizabeth Philipps (d 1709) marble with floral panels to piers, cherub heads and skulls; T and C Cosby (dd 1807 and 1808) draped sarcophagus on armorial pedestal, by Tyley of Bristol. S wall Elizabeth Johnes (d 1730) Baroque stone and slate, with drapes, cornice with standing cherubs. Fine large ashlar memorial to John Philipps (d 1733) and Edward Phillips (d 1740) with scroll pediment, ornamented frieze, pilasters with scroll supports and shield below. W wall Rees Price (d 1729) ashlar pilastered frame with skulls and hour-glass. The 2 C18 carved portrait roundels above are presumably detached from a monument. Catherine & Grace Hickman (dd 1828 and 1832) neo-Grec with 2 urns and weeping figure at tomb, by Tyley. Brass with crude skull to John Sayes (d 1693). Peter Price (d 1809) plaque with urn by Philipps of Haverfordwest. Memorial to Robert Recorde C16 mathematician, with portrait relief, 1910, by Owen Thomas. Ellen Peel (d 1836) pedimented neo-Grec plaque by Rogers of Tenby.
Stained glass: W window of 1870 by Clayton & Bell, fine Resurrection with 5 scenes below, given by Mrs Howells of Croft Cottage. N aisle: W window clear glass of 1963; N side first, mid C20 glass by Hardman to Reed family, Annunciation; 2nd, exceptional Arts and Crafts glass of c1920 by Karl Parsons, to Lt-Col H M Henderson, (killed 1917), Christ and soldier, flanked by warrior angel and female figure; 3rd, four shields, 1985, by Baker of Weston-S-Mare. NE chapel: 3rd, c1920 to Helen Knowling (d 1916) by Kempe & Co, St Mary; E: 1894 by W G Taylor, of St Nicholas, to Morgan family of Greenhill. Chancel: N:1908, Arts and Crafts style, 3 lights with Virgin & Child in centre, by Karl Parsons, to Rev G Huntingdon; E: fine 5-light window, 1856, by Wailes, to Rev W Tuder, with 10 New and Old Testament scenes on blue grounds, Crucifixion on red. S aisle: W: by Kempe & Co, 1921, World War memorial, crucified Christ triumphant and 4 tiers of figures of angels, saints and virtues; S side: tiny first window with 3 female saints, c1922.
Anglican parish church, rubble stone with much C19 ashlar tracery, slate roofs with coped gables. Nave and chancel, with parallel-roofed N and S aisles with N and S porches, fine tower at E end of S aisle with broach spire and parallel-roofed NE and SE chapels.
W end has 3 gables with C19 coping and finals. NE gable shows line of older gable below and also traces of original C15 segmental-pointed window removed for large C19 5-light window with intersecting tracery, replaced in 1963. Straight joint to nave which also shows line of head and sill of a lost segmental-pointed W window, replaced by ornately traceried 5-light pointed window of 1869. Odd late C15 W door with flattened mouldings and ogee head (similar to door on 'chantry' ruin in churchyard) Eroded Latin inscription recorded as Blessed be God in his gifts. The SW gable has a cambered arch with stone voussoirs to left of restored late C15 5-light pointed window with hoodmould. A straight joint to right of centre shows line of earlier narrower S aisle. Chamfered SW angle.
S aisle has large squared grey stones in lower third of wall to left of porch, up to straight joint under 4-light window. Tiny C15 window to left with leaf-carved spandrels, blocked square window below, then big C19 4-light pointed window with jamb and head of original 4-centred arched window to left. Storeyed C15 S porch has embattled parapet, and thin C19 ashlar cornice. Large pointed S door and small pointed E and W doors with thin flat mouldings like those of nave W door and ruined chantry. Sundial in battlements to S, restored 1903. Rough stone vault within and S door with C18 boarded panelled doors and stone voussoirs to flat head. Blocked lancet above breaking into vault. Two similar C19 3-light aisle windows to right, C19 walling and corbelled eaves, traces of old window line above 2nd window. Rectangular blocked opening to left with eroded hood. Coped E gable, lean-to against recessed tower.
Tower is of coursed brown stone, battered walls. SW stair tower in angle with plain pointed door and 6 loops. Blocked chamfered pointed S door with stone voussoirs, C19 3-light pointed window over, small pointed lancet at mid height, and single long narrow louvred bell-opening each face to top stage, with clock above and corbelled embattled parapet. Tall recessed Bath stone octagonal spire broached at base.
SE chapel has straight joint to tower, C19 squared grey limestone walls, ashlar windows and eaves corbels. A small 2-light under eaves to left and 2 large pointed 3-light windows. Tiny blocked rectangular opening to extreme left.
SE vestry is all of 1882-4 and has steeper pitched roof with moulded coped gables and lower eaves. Straight joint, door to left in flat-headed surround, with ornate hinges. SE angle chamfered at ground floor.
E end has 3 coped gables, E and SE in line, NE set back. 1882-4 SE gable to left with tall pointed 3-light Perp style window, and low flat-headed 3-light with hoodmould below. Straight joint to right except at ground level. Chancel E gable has shoulder to right but not to left, a medieval relieving arch in gable over big 1856 Perp-style 5-light window, set high. Triangular vent in gable apex. N side has crude medieval chamfered flat-headed basement window with crude stone voussoirs above, similar stones to wall right may indicate a lost opening. Shelf or lintel projecting above and to left of window. Step in wall indicates earlier wall head, raised in earlier C15, 3-light flat-headed window of 1908 inserted. NE chapel has gable coping and 3-light E window of 1882-4 to match vestry gable. Straight joint to right shows where N wall is rebuilt. Line of original gable visible. NE chapel has 3 C19 N windows, and N nave aisle has 3 similar 4-light windows and N porch, all of 1862-3. Previously the N door was blocked and there were flat-headed C15 4-light windows. C19 corbelled eaves. Porch has coped gable, angle buttresses and pointed ashlar arch with column shafts. Inner N door has pointed arch and inscription to Frances Tuder (d 1860). A big buttresses at aisle NE corner is pierced by a chamfered pointed arch with some medieval stones in jambs.
Reason for Listing
Graded I as an outstanding late medieval church with exceptional roofs and monuments.
W Gwyn Thomas, St Mary's Parish Church, 9th ed., 2000;
W Gwyn Thomas, in Archaeologia Cambrensis, 115, 1966;
B Cripps, Tenby postcards of yesteryear, 1995, p 94;
Tenby Museum collection.
In a prominent position on the SW side of the High Street just NW of Tudor Square.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.