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St Marys and St Nicholas Church Beaumaris

is to be found in the heart of the medieval tSt Mary's and St Nicholas Church Beaumarisown of Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey North Wales. Built during the 14th century soon after the construction of Beaumaris Castle, its main purpose was to serve the burgesses of the walled town. Parts of the church were built at different times: the nave, west tower and north and south aisles were built in the 14th century, whilst the chancel was rebuilt circa 1500.
 
The stone tomb of Princess Joan of Wales (Siwan in Welsh) is a fascinating monument situated in the south aisle of the church. Joan was the legitimate daughter of King John, king of England during the late 12th century, and was married to Llywelyn the Great, then Prince of Wales, at the age of twelve. Joan died in February 1237 and originally Llywelyn had her buried in a Franciscan Friary he founded in Llanfaes, just north of Beaumaris and which he could see from his palace in Abergwyngregyn. However, when he died in 1240, Llywelyn was not buried with his wife, but at Aberconwy Abbey, where he had retired to during the last few years of his life. Tragically, the Friary was destroyed in 1537 by Henry VIII’s clergymen as part of the dissolution of the monasteries, and for years Joan’s tomb was used by horses as a water trough. Thankfully, today it has been moved to the church, where it can be visited and admired by many who come to see it and commemorate the life of Joan.

It is not only Joan’s tomb that lies in the church. In the west end of the north aisle lies an alabaster tomb of Alabaster carved tomb of Bulkeleys in Beaumaris ChurchWilliam Bulkeley, who died circa 1490 and his wife Elin, the daughter of Gwilym ap Gruffydd of Penrhyn. Although they don’t carry as much of a story as Joan’s tomb, the tomb is very impressive, with the alabaster ‘bodies’ of William and Elin lying side by side creating an aura of romance within the church.

The church is adorned with amazing carvings on the misericords, all carrying a moral message. The faces of the carvings are extremely detailed and while it is unknown who made them, it is likely that they were skilled craftsmen working for Edward I following his conquest on Wales in 1282. The carvings include, amongst many others, a bearded pope, a woman balancing two pints on her head, a woman wearing a large crown, hood and wimple, a woman with a crown of roses on her head and another of two working women.


Directions:    [ Map of St Marys and St Nicholas Church Beaumaris location  ]

On entering Beaumaris from the west turn left up Church Street and the church is on your left.

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Please - click on the pictures - for enlarged pictures of St Marys Church Beaumaris, Beaumaris © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings

Beaumaris church south aisle and porch external view Coffin of Princess Joan, Siwan, wife of Llwellyn the Great
Beaumaris church south aisle and porch external view  
Coffin of Princess Joan, Siwan, wife of Welsh Prince Llywellyn the Great
Interior of Beaumaris Church looking down the nave toward the Chancel   View of Beaumaris church tower from the seafront
Interior of Beaumaris Church looking down the Nave toward the Chancel  
View of Beaumaris church tower from the seafront
 

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