St Mary

Tucked in beside the great Cistercian abbey, with the grave of Wales’s greatest love poet.

About this church

The church of St Mary was built out of stone from the abbey ruins. It still has its west end gallery, where the choir and possibly the parish band would have sat in the 18th century.

The churchyard is a site perhaps more visited even than the abbey monument itself. We know of its existence from as early as about 1535, when it was visited by John Leland, Henry VIII's official antiquary. He noted that 'the cemetery wherein the country about doth bury is very large and meanly walled with stone. In it be 39 great yew trees'. It is exceptional that a large and important Cistercian Abbey such as Strata Florida would have a secular cemetery right next to its church. This is one of the hints that the 12th century foundation may actually have been on an earlier site.

In the churchyard is the reputed grave of Dafydd ap Gwilym (c1315-c1350), who wrote some of the most famous love poetry in Welsh, some of it shockingly explicit! Also in the graveyard is a memorial where the leg of a local man, Henry Hughes, a cooper, was buried in 1756. Hughes subsequently emigrated to America and the rest of his body is buried there.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

Help support ExploreChurches by becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust