1158 – Roger de Clare may have founded the parish church as the secular church of Cardigan Priory.
1165 – Lord Rhys ap Gruffydd granted the church to Chertsey Abbey.
1175 – The Abbot of Gloucester made an unsuccessful attempt to claim the church. Reference was made to the presentation many years earlier of Cardigan Church to the Bishop of St. David’s by Roger de Clare. Three burgages in the town had been given to the same.
1411 – Ca. 21st February the Pope summoned the Abbot of Chertsey to Rome. The Vicar of St. Mary’s, Thomas Duy, complained that of the annual income of 100 marks (£66.13s.6d.) made by the church, largely from vast numbers of pilgrims, he received only about 7s. a year. The Pope considered allowing him a staggering third – £22.4s.6d. – an enormous sum for a Vicar.
1413 – Thomas Duy was still the Vicar.
1428 – With the disappearance of Holy Trinity Church, St. Mary’s Church formally became the Parish Church of Cardigan.
1497 – On 22nd May Richard Robyns became the Vicar.
1502 – Hugh Weythe replaced Richard Robyns as Vicar on 1st June.
1517 – Morgan Meredith succeeded John Frodshame as the Vicar.
1535 – Morgan Meredith received £10 per annum as Vicar of Cardigan.
1537 – The abolition of pilgrimages deprived a profitable income from the Shrine of Our Lady of Cardigan.
1538 – On 16th March Thomas Barlow, the infamous Bishop of St. David’s, visited what he called the“…shamefull detestacion called Our Ladyes taper of Cardigan…” in order to interrogate the Vicar of St. Mary’s and Prior of Cardigan regarding the shrine. The shrine consisted of a statue of the Virgin Mary with the Holy Child, which had once held a taper in her hand. Thomas Hore, was to be the last Prior. Barlow’s concern was with the taper, rather that the statue itself, as this had long been venerated as a relic. He also questioned the Vicar, Morgan Meredith. Barlow dismissed the taper as “…a pece of olde rottene tymber…” The taper was sent to Thomas Cromwell and the statue was burned in Chelsea, Londond, soon afterwards. Both the Prior and the Vicar were ordered to preach the folly of idolatry worship.
1546 – There were 400 houseling people or communicants. Philip ap Howell, priest, received 29s.4d. for saying the Mass of Our Lady.
1548 – It was noted that “…there is…one service, called Our Lady Service, and lands given to the yearly value of 45s. for a priest to sing Our Lady Masse in the parish church of Cardigan, sung at this time by Sir [i.e. Rev.] Philipe ap Hoell, a very aged man. There belongeth also one challis of silver, valued at 60s. – being laid to gage for 53s.4d. by the Stipendiarie Priest Wm. Morris, also lands for the benefit of the poor; Griffith Sporrier, Parish Clerke and Receiver wages 26s.6d…”
1553 – On 8th March Edward Powell leased “…Lands granted to maintain a priest or chantor to say the Mass of St. Mary in the parish church of Cardigan, 2 parcels of 10s.2d. and 6s.10d….” Griffin Williams was said to be the Vicar.
1555 – The Crown paid a pension of £2.0s.8d. to Philip ap Hoell for “…lately celebrating in the parish of Cardygane…”
1563 – Rev. Peregrine Daindle was the Vicar. Rev. Nicholas Harry was either his predecessor or successor.
1601 – Rev. Res Owen was probably the Vicar.
1607 – Until 1631 Rev. Jevan (or Ieuan) Griffiths was the Vicar. The church was mentioned in Camden’s “Brittania”.
1610 – The church was illustrated on John Speed’s map. Rev. Evan Griffiths’s son, Abel Griffiths, and grandson, Matthew Griffiths, became prominent figures in the town.
1618 – Rev. William Morris possibly became the Curate.
1639 – According to a plaque, a porch was added at the nave door – “Janson Lewis, Arthur Griffiths, Church Wardens Anno 1639”.
1644 – When the Civil War reached Cardigan, General Laugharne and his Puritan troops came to the church :-
“…Then we did enter the church of St. Mary and did find it deserted. Straight away my men did set to work to destroy the many Popish adornments of the church, and especially one sergeant, who was a pious man, and visited by the Almighty in dreams. I did endeavour to restrain him but the sergeant did call aloud “shall we not utterly destroy the ornaments of Baal, that are in the Lord’s house?” Nevertheless I did entreat them to spare the great window for its beauty sake, and I rejoice to think it is still unharmed, though it did portray divers idolatry figures and a representation of a priest all in red by an altar. My men did break much painted glass and heads of angels and other goodly matter for which I felt grieved, but God ordained that we should destroy them, indeed many did blame me, that I did spare the great east window. After the men had broken much in the church, we did sing psalms and pray unto God and then we left again by the porch…”
1647 – Until 1649 Rev. John Barnwell was the Vicar.
1660 – Rev. William Owen was the Vicar.
1662 – Rev. Charles Price was ejected from his living as Vicar of Cardigan by the Puritans and Rev. John Morgan became the Vicar.
1666 – Rev. Richard Harries became the Vicar.
1674 – The two smallest bells were recast by two travelling bell founders – Robert Ingle and John Stadler, who were paid £8 for their work by the Mayor and Corporation. They built their casting pits very close to the north side of the tower, perhaps weakening the foundations.
1684 – Rev. Daniel Gwynne was the Vicar or Curate.
1685 – Edward Lhuyd illustrated a monument here, since vanished. On it was carved the figure of a priest in a cassock and cowl, with a Latin inscription, meaning :- “Here Lies Thomas Albermarle, rector of the church of Cardigan. I beseech you, brothers, pray for me as I shall for you, in so far as I am able…”
1693 – On 2nd September Rev. David Jenkins, the Vicar, married Janet Hughes.
1703 – The nave was substantially rebuilt in 1702-03 according to a plaque in the porch: – “The body of this church was rebuilt in the years 1702 and 3. Hugh Thomas and Thomas Bevan, Church Wardens.” Much of the north side of the nave may date from this time, the south side being much older. A copy of the list of benefactors remains inside the church.
1705 – On 11th August the tower collapsed.
1710 – A brief under the Great Seal was obtained for rebuilding the tower, but only £400 was received – not enough to complete the job.
1711 – On 12th April the foundation stone of a new tower was laid, but the work was halted on 25th October when funds ran out with the tower at forty feet in height.
1714 – On 30th October Rev. Rice Griffith of Cardigan was the Vicar and remained so until 1717.
1717 – Rev. Thomas Richards became the Vicar until 1729.
1729 – On 5th May Rev. Thomas Richards died. His successor was Rev. James Phillips. In 1729-30 Rev. James Thomas was the Curate.
1731 – Rev. Rice Evans became the Vicar.
1737 – The new Vicar was Rev. Hugh Pugh, B. A., who was presented the position by the King, succeeding Rev. Rees Evans.
1739 – Rev. Morgan Gwynne may have been the Vicar.
1742 – Rev. David Jones was the Curate.
1743 – Rev. John Davies became the Vicar until at least June 1777. The poor-box was robbed.
1748 – The upper part of the church tower was finally completed. A plaque was unveiled commemorating all of the benefactors. The Vicar was Rev. William Powell and the churchwarden was John Morgan, who gave £10.10s towards the work himself. John Lloyd of Peterwell, M P for Cardiganshire, and John Symmons of Llanstinan, M. P. for Cardigan Borough, gave £100 and £20 respectively towards recasting and setting up the church bells.
1754 – A clock was installed in the new tower for the first time. John Warner & Sons of London re-cast at least one of the bells.
1759 – Andrew Brice called the church “…a goodly structure…”
1762 – Herbert Lloyd of Peterwell granted a clock to the church.
1778 – Rev. John Evans became the Vicar until 1784.
1783 – A new silver gilt service of Communion Plate was donated, together with a new altar piece – the gift of the late Lady Laetitia Cornwallis, who was buried in the churchyard.
1784 – Rev. William Nicholas became the Vicar.
1786 – On February 20th Elinor Nicholas, wife of Vicar Rev. William Nicholas, died aged 55.
1793 – The church appears in a painting made on 11th June by Sir Richard Colt-Hoare.
1800 – Rev. John Evans was the Vicar.
1803 – On 4th January Rev. Sampson Owen, the Vicar, married Sarah Hughes of St Mary’s parish.
1805 – The church bells were damaged through over-zealous pealing to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.
1808 – Samuel R Meyrick noted “…eight grotesque heads, support the rafters of the roof, and there were formerly six figures of men and women holding shields carved in wood, leaning by the wall of the chancel, originally, perhaps, supporting the roof…” Meyrick illustrated many of the features he described. He also referred to the fragments of Flemish glass in the East window and described the 1639 porch, since replaced.
1813 – On 2nd July Rev. Thomas Morgan, Curate here and also Rector of Bridell and Master of the Cardigan Free Grammar School, died aged 34. He was succeeded as Curate and Master of the school by Rev. George Griffith.
1819 – On 6th November Rev. James Bowen, Vicar of the church and Master of the Cardigan National School, died aged 32.
1821 – Early in the year Pryse Pryse, M P, gave “…a gallery of free sittings…” to the church at a cost of £200.
1824 – Rev. Griffith Thomas became the Vicar until 1876.
1827 – By 14th September Arthur Jones of Castle Green (Cardigan Castle), Sheriff of Cardiganshire, had presented a new organ to the church.
1829 – Abraham Thomas was the Sexton.
1830 – The Pryse family of Gogerddan presented the church with a barrel organ.
1831 – On 6th May Pryse Pryse, M. P., was about to donate a new clock to the church.
1832 – On February 20th Hannah Thomas, wife of Rev. Griffith Thomas, died aged 46. Two days later their child, Richard Griffith Thomas, died aged just five days.
1834 – The church was marked on J Wood’s map of Cardigan.
1844 – Rev. Evan Lewis became the Curate. On 6th September the Bishop preached at St. Mary’s Church – apparently the first to do so for centuries.
1847 – On 11th June a new nave window near the pulpit was being installed, considerably enlarged to the design of Mr. Waugh who also installed a larger pulpit and conducted other works. W Jenkins of Blaenbarthen, Llangoedmor, was the mason.
1848 – Rev. Richard Lee Lewis was the Curate and Master of the Cardigan Free Grammar School.
1851 – Rev. Thomas Harries became the Curate. There were 274 attendees and 200 scholars here every Sunday morning and 161 attendees and 50 scholars in the evening.
1854 – Rev. W Thomas became the Curate.
1855 – Rev. David R Davies became the Curate. On 17th October H Woodyer, architect, was carrying out alterations at a cost of £520, including new seating. David Morgan, St. Mary Street, was employed here as a builder.
1858 – New seats were beinginstalled on 23rd August.
1859 – The Cambrian Archaeological Association visited in August.
1861 – D Jenkins of Cilgerran and J Thomas of Llechryd built a new south porch.
1867 – Rev. W Rees was the Curate.
1868 – On 17th January Rev. John Rees became the Curate.
1870 – It was proposed that the nave be rebuilt in order to accommodate more seats, but the idea was quashed on the advice of William Woodward. He removed all of the old seats and provided new and longer ones to increase the capacity.
1871 – Rev. Thomas Jones was the Curate.
1875 – On 22nd October an appeal was made for a new church organ.
1876 – On 28th April John Thomas of Noyaddwilym, Llangoedmor, was the contractor for building a new organ chamber. Rev. Griffith Thomas, Vicar, died on 20th May, aged 87. Rev. William Cynog Davies, took the post on 24th November, remaining the Vicar until 1900.
1877 – In February an illuminated address was presented to Rev. Thomas Jones, Curate, upon his departure to Pembrock Dock. Rev. David Richards became the Curate. On 7th June the Bishop dedicated the new church organ by Foster & Andrews of Hull, which cost £440. Rev. William Cynog Davies married Miss Mary E Jenkins, eldest daughter of Jonathan Jenkins of Cilbronnau, Llangoedmor.
1880 – On 26th November the fourth bell was being repaired. It had been badly damaged after falling from its’ bearings whilst being over-enthusiastically pealed for a wedding. Until 1900 William Lewis of No. 6 Church Street was the Sexton.
1881 – Rev. T Williams became the Curate. The cemetery was closed on 2nd May.
1884 – A surprise religious census showed 139 attending morning service and 239 attending in the evening.
1887 – Rev. William Cynog Davies calculated average Sunday attendance as being 242 persons in the mornings and 347 in the afternoon.
1888 – On 22nd March Mary Elizabeth Davies, wife of Rev. William Cynog Davies, died aged 56.
1890 – Rev. Thomas Jones became the Curate.
1892 – On 29th July it was complained that the churchyard had become very overgrown.
1896 – On 20th March tenders were sought for conducting minor repairs and redecorating, which was carried out by William Charles Wilson & Sons, Pendre, to the specifications of Richard Thomas, architect.
1899 – In March the Curate, Rev. Thomas Jones, left. The new Curate was Rev. J Rowland Thomas.
1900 – The striking weights of the clock broke. On February 19th William Lewis, Sexton of the church for twenty years, died aged 68. On 29th November Rev. William Cynog Davies, Vicar since 1876, died aged 67.
1901 – On 28th March 1901 Rev. David J Evans was inducted as the new Vicar. On 9th April he married Miss Laura Dorothea Hughes Jones.
1904 – On 3rd June there were proposals to enlarge and beautify the church. Tenders were sought for redecoration, removal of the ceilings and enlargement of the nave. Lewis Lewis of Cardigan, architect, was the contractor and the work took place in 1904-06. H M Vaughan queried the tradition that Thomas Johnes of the Hafod had removed the Norman East window in the 1770’s. He said of the church, that “…the whole chancel has a bare and dreary aspect, thanks to the low dismal stucco ceiling which has replaced a fine old timber roof that was highly ornate with carving…”
1905 – In March Rev. D Bankes Evans succeeded Rev. T J Evans as the Curate, remaining until 1914.
1906 – Three new stained glass windows were installed in the chancel. Lewis Lewis’ renovations were completed at a cost of over £700 and the church re-opened on 7th November. David Miles and Thomas Evans had been the builders employed.
1910 – By 21st January installation of a Memorial Window to David Griffith Davies of Castle Green (Cardigan Castle) had been completed on the south side of the nave and on that date it was dedicated by the Bishop.
1912 – Rev. David J Evans left on 14th April. On 20th June there was a theft of money and items from the church, though the thief was apprehended soon afterwards. On 7th July Rev. David Timothy Alban became the Vicar.
1913 – In February a plaque was unveiled at the church in memory of Rev. William Cynog Davies.
1914 – On 27th February two cottages on Pontycleifion were acquired for demolition in order to improve the church entrance from the north. On 27th March Rev. George Thomas Walters was appointed Curate. By 15th May two more cottages had been purchased and later that year they were demolished and a dwarf wall and railings constructed.
1915 – An article entitled “Stained Glass at Cardigan Church” by Prof. E Tyrrell Green appeared in the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Magazine. On 19th November tenders were sought for building walls and railings at the north side of the churchyard. Some trees here were uprooted by a severe gale on 27th December.
1916 –Rev. G T Walters, Curate, left. Rev. Benjamin J Jones became the Curate in March. On 1st October Rev. D T Alban announced his forthcoming departure as Vicar.
1917 – Rev. David Morgan Jones of Aberporth was inducted as Vicar by the Bishop on 21st January and remained Vicar until 1931. On 2nd May the Curate, Rev. Benjamin J Jones, married Miss Margaret Frances Harris of Carmarthen.
1919 – In January Rev. Benjamin J James, Curate, left. Rev. Evan Glanrid Jones (b.1888) became the Curate in May.
1920 – On 23rd June a memorial tablet to Major R W Picton Evans was unveiled.
1923 – On 2nd November the Vicar, Rev. David Morgan Jones, proposed renovations to the church including a new East Window.
1924 – Renovations commenced including the removal of the C19 gallery and low stucco ceiling and the installation a memorial window inscribed: – “In grateful memory of the men and women of this parish who gave their lives for their country 1914-18”. Rev. E Glanrid Jones was succeeded as Curate by Rev. James Lewis Davies (b.1886).
1925 – A stained glass window was installed in memory of the late Arabella Ann Davies of Castle Green.
1926 – A new vestry was erected and a new pulpit and reredos installed. A new panelled ceiling was installed, with all of the restoration work by W D Caroe.
1927 – The church was re-opened and dedicated on 25th March.
1928 – Rev. David John Davies succeeded Rev. James Lewis Davies as Curate. A new oak pulpit was donated in memory of Mrs Mary Davies, Claremont, Cardigan, who died on 18th November 1927.
1930 – In July Rev. David John Davies, Curate, left.
1931 – Rev. J D Bartlett was the Curate. Rev. Canon David Morgan Jones moved to Llanelli and Rev. Edward Lee Hamer succeeded him as Vicar on 17th April, remaining Vicar until 1950. Alban Caroe and E A Hall designed a new lectern in Caroe’s style. Nathaniel Hitch carved the angels. New windows were by Walter Wilkinson.
1932 – On 25th February the Bishop visited the church.
1933 – On 5th January the North Memorial Gate was dedicated by the Bishop.
1934 – In August Rev. William John Davies became the new Curate.
1936 – Rev. Benjamin Alec Lewis of No. 22 St. Mary Street, became the Curate after Rev. William John Davies, the previous Curate, left for Tumble.
1939 – At Easter there were 391 communicants.
1940 – In August Rev. E Walter Evans became the Curate, succeeding Rev. Benjamin Alec Lewis.
1942 – In September Curate Rev E Walter Evans left and Rev. H G Beynon Hopkins became the Curate.
1944 – In November Rev. E Lee Hamer was appointed a Canon.
1945 – On 28th September Rev. H G Beynon Hopkims ceased to be the Curate and was succeeded by Rev. David Donald Roberts.
1946 – A new altar was donated in memory of Mrs Anne Llywelyn Peregrine of Oaklands, St. Mary Street, Cardigan, who died on 17th February. In August the Curate, Rev. D D Roberts, married Miss Annie Howells of Llandybie.
1947 – On 4th July an electric organ-blower was installed. On 10th September a memorial window to Pilot Desmond Thomas was unveiled.
1948 – On 26th March Curate Rev. David Donald Roberts left. At Easter Rev. Alun E Davies of Treharris became the Curate.
1949 – On 12th June Lizzie Hamer, wife of Rev. Canon E Lee Hamer, died aged 63.
1950 – Rev. Canon E Lee Hamer retired.
1951 – On 23rd January Rev. David Thomas Price was installed as the new Vicar.
1953 – The flagstaff was struck by lightening and destroyed on June 27th. The weather-cock was repaired that October and the flagpole replaced.
1954 – D J M Peregrine wrote a booklet about the church.
1955 – Rev. David Thomas Price died aged 56 on 26th September.
1956 – The Bishop of St. David’s installed Rev. Canon T E Jenkins as the new Vicar on 25th January. On 14th September the Archbishop of Canterbury visited the church.
1957 – Rev. James Ernest Jones became the Vicar – inducted in April and remaining Vicar until 1974. The Curate, Rev. D L B Evans left Cardigan.
1958 – On 6th June the Bishop dedicated new doors in memory of Dr W T Havard. In December Rev. John Carew Thomas became the new Curate.
1959 – On 19th June a new west door (in memory of Miss M Gwladys R Peregrine of Claverley, North Road) and floodlights were donated to the church and were dedicated on 15th December. By 21st August volunteers had begun tidying up the churchyard.
1960 – By 21st October the bells were undergoing repair.
1961 – On 9th September the Bishop dedicated the restored bells. The church was made a listed building.
1969 – On 27th April H R H Prince Charles made a surprise appearance at a Sunday morning service. The headstones were removed from parts of the churchyard, and placed around the cemetery walls. Rev. J Parsons was the Curate.
1974 – On 31st January Rev. Alfred Joseph Davies was inducted as the new Vicar and remained until 1987.
1977 – In January the organ was re-built.
1979 – Until 1982 Rev. T E Jenkins was the Curate.
1984 – Until 1986 Rev. D J Clarke was the Curate.
1988 – In December Rev. Canon William Hughes Richards became the Vicar until 2001.
1992 – Some stained glass at the church was smashed by vandals In September Rev. Philip Johnes became the Curate until 1994.
1996 – Rev. Peter A Lewis was the Curate.
1999 – Rev. Gerald A Sykes was the Curate.
2001 – In October Rev. Canon William H Richards retired.
2002 – Rev. John Powell became the Vicar of St Mary’s and was inducted in December. He was the Vicar in 2002-10.
2010 – Rev. John Powell left in September.
© Glen K Johnson 2012