St David's Church, Newtown
Copyright Richard Wheeler
This carved Medieval rood screen was removed from St Mary's Church when it closed (see details on St Mary's Church page).
By 1840 Newtown had become the centre of the Mid-Wales woollen industry which brought a rapid growth in population.
The rector at that time, Rev. G. Foxton, must have felt a pressing need for a new building, necessitated by a shortage of seating and frequent flooding of an old badly sited church.
The site for the new church on what was to become the New Road, was given by Mr. David Pugh of Llanerchyddol, Welshpool, M.P. for Montgomery Boroughs for many years and a prominent landowner. The foundation stone was laid by the Countess of Powys on 27th October, 1843. The architect was Thomas Penson (1790-1859) who was County Surveyor of Montgomeryshire from 1818 and of Denbighshire from 1819 in succession to his father also Thomas Penson (1760- 1824). Penson chose the buff Ruabon bricks to build the church which were manufactured at the Trefynant works of J. C. Edwards. The style is Victorian Gothic.
The building, which cost about £4,600, consisted of a nave and aisles, a small apse at the East end, and a Western Tower, with entrance on the North side. Galleries ran around the three sides, the Western one occupied by the organ.
Four years later, on 13th September, 1847, the Bishop, Dr. T. V. Short, consecrated the new church - but somewhat unusually without a dedication. This strange omission was to be the cause of much confusion and discussion in later years. Many parishioners referred to the building as St. Mary's, no doubt taking the name from the old building and as recently as 1924 the new incumbent, the Rev. J. E. Morgan was inducted to "St. Mary's". However, in 1940 the matter was formally raised in a P.C.C. meeting. Eventually after much diligent work, Mr. F. B. Lloyd a church warden, proved that at the laying of the foundation stone, the words used were : "I lay this stone as the foundation of a church to be consecrated to Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in the name of St. David."
As a result, the Bishop, Dr. W. T. Havard, issued a decree in 1943 stating "that the church was to be known henceforth as the Church of St. David".
By the early 1870's the building was being described as "most inconvenient" and structural faults had appeared and as a result a faculty was granted in 1873 for major alterations. This entailed the removal of the galleries and the construction of a chancel with organ chamber and vestry, the removal of the reredos, which had been erected using the screen from the old church, and the replacement of the old box-pews by oak pews free to all. A new font and pulpit were also added.
The cost of this renovation was £3,000. The architect was Mr. David Walker of Liverpool, and the builder, E. Williams of Newtown.
The service of re-dedication took place in August 1874 conducted by the Bishop of Hereford.
Further alterations were made in 1909 when parts of the rood-screen were used to line the sanctuary, then in 1938 came the erection of the Lady Chapel, again parts of the old screen were used, and the re-decoration of the interior. The architect for this latter operation was H. L. North of Llanfairfechan.
Further major repairs and re-decoration were carried out from 1961-4 at a cost of £10,000.
(extracted from A brief history of the Buildings of the Church in the Parishes of Newtown & Llanlwlchaiarn by H.N. Oliver)
Sadly, because of insurmountable infrastructure problems, the church had to close in June 2006 and the Parish of Newtown merged with the Parish of Llanllwchaiarn. The Medieval rood screen is pictured at the top of the page in its third home - it is now on the gallery in the church of St Llwchaiarn, Llanllwchaiarn.