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Carmarthen Cameos-3 (St Peter’s Church)

Every day, as I go to work by bus, I pass St John’s Church which stands exactly at the A666 roundabout. When I first visited Manchester in 2002, St John’s amazed me with the bright slogans displayed on the gate facing the traffic. In the years since then I’ve seen a plenty of these, and the most remarkable one was around Christmas time, saying something like “It’s Christ’s Birthday!” I remember it struck me as a very lay slogan.

The secularisation of the Church continues, as far as the use of the WWW space is concerned. Churches across England have more or less readily embraced the Internet. Manchester Cathedral has a website, as does St Mary’s The Hidden Gem. St Peter’s Church in Carmarthen, which stands at the junction of King St, Spilman St and Priory St, has got its own website at http://www.stpeterscarmarthen.org.

But first, a few pictures of the streets that lead to St Peters. You can approach it from Spilman St (left), but this, I dare say, is not the most picturesque passage. You’d better go to the church via the “profane” King St. If you stand at the junction of King St and Queens St, facing The Spread Eagle restaurant, on your right you see the entrance into Nott Sq, where the Carmarthen Castle is located (right).

Since we’re going to St Peter’s, we’ll turn our backs to Nott Sq for now and walk up King St. On our way we’ll see houses of different colours (left), Myrddin Bakery, a few charity and retailers’ shops, a post office and a dispensing chemist (right), soon after which you’ll virtually stumble into St Peter’s. Those who have been to Tallinn may compare this stumbling-in to the one that occurs when you discover Oleviste (St Olaf’s Church) between Pikk St and Lai St.

As we read on St Peter’s website, the present building’s main three parts belong to the 14th, 15th, and 16th c. Priory St where the church stands used to be the main road of the Roman town of Moridunum. The first written record of St Peter’s belongs to the very beginning of the 12th c.

Until the 19th c. St Peter’s was the parish church for the whole of Carmarthen, and the tombs also highlight its prominence in the history of the town. The oldest monument in the church is the 13th c. tomb slab, which suggests that St Peter’s was rebuilt, possibly on the same site, by the 14th c., to which one of the present parts dates back. Although I haven’t been inside the church, it seems that it hadn’t suffered much during the Reformation.

The plaque with a short history of Moridunum stands on the corner across the road opposite St Peter’s, next to Carmarthen’s library. The church garden seems to be a popular lunch place for citizens and dogs alike, and the trees provide a good shade on a hot summer afternoon for those who’re waiting for a bus. Exactly opposite the church is Oriel Myrddin Gallery. The ground floor display offers a fresh look at modern arts and crafts, including unconventional bags and multicolour notepads.

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