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St Mary's Church, Bury Port

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Map ReferenceSN40SE
Grid ReferenceSN4532001043
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCarmarthenshire
Old CountyCarmarthenshire
CommunityCefn Sidan
Type Of SiteCHURCH
Period19th Century
St Mary's church is prominently situated, within a large churchyard in an elevated position on the north-east side of Burry Port. Its tower is a landmark and can easily be seen from the gower peninsula. The church was erected in 1875-1877 (to a plan of 1860), to the designs of Wilson, Willcox and Wilson, Bath. Its benefactor was George Richards Elkington (1801-1865), co-founder of the Pembrey Copperworks Company (situated alongside Burry Port harbour) in 1849. He found that many of his English speaking Anglican employees had no English place of worship, so he decided to build the church as a gift to the town. Three landoweners, Mr Mansel Rees, Cilymanllwyd, Mrs J.K Hand, Glyn Ivor and Mr T.V. Colby, Rhosygilwen, Haverfordwest donated land at the point where the three parcels of land met. Although the church is now in a built up area, historic (1880) Ordnance Survey mapping depicts the church surrounded by fields. The process of building began after George Elkington's death in 1865. His will provided a generous sum for the upkeep of the church and requested his five sons, Frederick, James, Alfred, Howard and Hyla to oversee the building work. A brass plaque on the church's interior west wall commemorates this. Mrs Howard Elkington laid the foundation stone on 6 July 1875, with a coin of the realm and a parchment with the story of the foundation placed inside. The church was opened on 9 December 1877 by Basil Jones, Bishop of St Davids. In his sermon he suggested that the church be named St Mary's after Mary Elkington, George's wife. The church was consecrated in 1903, and was a chapel of ease to Pembrey until 31 July 1959 when it became parish church of the new parish of Burry Port with Pwll.

The church is a Grade II listed building, constructed of local rock-faced brown stone with Bath stone dressings. It consists of four-bayed nave with lower chancel, south porch and south-east tower with spire. The tower has five bells, reportedly given in thanksgiving for the five Elkington brothers who built the church. The tenor bell weighs 7cwt and the bells are in the key of B flat. The nave has two-light aisle windows, three-light clerestorey windows between shallow full-height buttresses, and a higher three-light window with head stops. The aisles have similar two-light west windows. The south porch has a two-centred arch with head stops and double wooden gates leading to a triple-chamfered south doorway and double boarded doors with strap hinges. The chancel has angle buttresses a three-light east window with head stops. Below the apex is an empty niche on a corbelled grotesque. Steps on the chancel's north side lead to a basement boiler room. The vestry has a pyramidal roof on a moulded cornice, and a tall chimney stack above the east wall, the upper portion of which is ashlar. It has a two-pointed east window and a two-light square-headed north window. On the north of the chancel is the organ (built by Halmshaw, Birmingham), donated by Howard Elkington and wife.The reredoes was designed by Mowbray to mark the church's fiftieth anniversay in 1927. Badly affected by woodworm, it was restored in 2000, to celebrate the millenium. Stained glass windows date to 1877 (by Hardman), 1949 (by Powell), 1958 (by Celtic Studios), 1978 (by Celtic Studios) and 2000 (by Janet Hardy).

Sources include:
Cadw, Listed Buildings Database
Lloyd, T, Orbach, J and Scourfield, R, 2006, The Buildings of Wales: Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion
Ordnance Survey, 1880, first edition 25in

N Vousden, RCAHMW, 12 March 2013