Would you like to help preserve St Mary’s for the future?
Why not join The Friends of St Mary’s Church? The Friends exists to help preserve the fabric of the building and engage in the mission of the church to the community. Membership can be paid for life, or annually, and we accept Standing Orders for monthly annual subscriptions.
Send a message to the Secretary of the Friends.
The church of St Mary the Virgin began its life as small country place of worship in the 12th Century, served by the monks of Margam.
Records show that by 1199 the church had its own Chaplain, named Wrgan, and the 13th Century Norwich taxation records the church as having dependent chapels in at least Baglan and Cwmavon. The idea of the church being a centre, serving other communities and reaching out to the people is one that was to persist in different forms into the twentieth century, with the establishing of the churches of St Teilo and St Paul’s (now closed) and the building of Holy Trinity Church ( later to be a parish in its own right, now part of the Benefice once more.)
In 1385 St Mary’s was impropriated by Margam Abbey. The value of the property in those days was estimated at 40 marks. Descriptions of the building suggest it consisted of a nave and chancel only, with a tower at its west end, and it is widely believed that at some time in the 15th century it was largely reconstructed. This was the building that was to last until the 18th Century.
St Mary’s 2011
Written accounts of the life of the parish tell us that by 1765 the church was in a shocking state and in a dangerous condition. Parishioners were given authority to collect money to undertake repairs - the first of many occasions that have continued to the present day in the life of all of our churches.
Three years later, in 1768, severe damage was caused by the flooding of the river Afan, and the subsequent years saw much work being carried out to try and save the building. It was all to no avail, and by the middle of the 19th Century it was clear that the church would have to be demolished and rebuilt. Between 1857 and 1859 parishioners worshipped at Baglan.
A wedding took place in October 1859, following the dedication of the new church on 15th October that year. Within forty years the population had grown, and so had the congregation, so more building work brought the church to its present design, with the addition of a north aisle.
As the twenty first century unfolds plans are in hand to restore, refurbish and renovate the church to modern standards to meet the changing needs of those who worship and those who visit this 900 year old Christian foundation.