St Mary and
All Saints Church, Conwy was
founded in the 12th Century as the abbey church of the Cistercian
Abbey of Aberconwy. This was the burial place of many
of the Princes of Gwynedd, including Gruffydd
ap Cynan, Llewelyn ap Maelgwyn,
Llywelyn the Great (Llywelyn Fawr), and his
sons Dafydd and Gruffydd. After
King Edward 1's conquest of Wales in 1283
Edward chose to build Conwy Castle and it's fortified town on the
site and forced removal of the Abbey to Maenan in
the Conwy valley. Llywelyn
the Great's body, buried in 1240 AD was removed to Maenan
and then, on the dissolution of the monasteries, to Llanrwst Church,
where the coffin can still be seen.
Mary's became the Parish church for the new English town of Conway.
Parts of the walls, notably on
the north side, survive from the original 12th century Abbey church.
While the lower stages of the tower, the south transept and the porches,
were erected in the 14th century. In the 15th century the tower
was completed, and the
aisle roofs were raised in the 16th century. Parts of the interior
to note are the 15th Century rood screen, once probably the
finest in North Wales, and the medieval chancel stalls.
There are many interesting slate gravestones in the churchyard and one
tomb in particular containing seven brothers and sisters is marked "We
Are Seven." It is said to have inspired the poet William Wordsworth
to write his poem of the same name.
A Simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?
I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.
She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
Her beauty made me glad.
"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said
And wondering looked at me.
"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.
"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."
"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."
Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."
"You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."
"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.
"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.
"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.
"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.
"So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.
"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."
"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."
"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
Open Days: Saturday
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday before and after services.
Although the church is in Conwy town centre many visitors to
the town fail to see the church as the surrounding buildings including
those of High Street and Castle Street obstruct the view of the Church.
There are entrances
to the church from Church Lane, High Street, Castle Street and Rose Hill