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St Mary's Church has stood the tests of time.

Byline: Louise Day

ST MARY'S Church in Coity, near Bridgend, is steeped in as much tradition as it is in fact.

Built in or around 1325, the church has formed a pivotal part of the community for more than 650 years.

But it is believed that there was a place of worship on the site from as early as the 12th Century, possibly dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Architecturally, there is evidence in the present-day church to suggest that there had been a building, possible where the sanctuary and chancel now stand, before the 14th Century.

Some believe this would explain the unusual ground plan and reinforced eastern wall, especially if the current building was constructed against an existing structure.

However, much evidence has been eroded with time. It is believed the original statue of the Virgin Mary was stolen from the niche above the porch door by Lundy pirates and the original nave roof was probably damaged during the siege of Coity by Owain Glyndwr between 1403 and 1406.

Over the centuries the church has undergone a number of reconstructions, including a new roof in the 15th Century, a new window in the south side of the nave in the 16th Century and in the 19th Century the church floor was raised by around two feet.

But just as the church has withstood war, oppression and even the Black Death, so have a number of prize artefacts, such as the original 14th Century font carved from Sutton Stone and a late mediaeval oak chest, possibly dated from 1480.

There are also believed to have been burials in the church and there remain two effigies to Sir Payne de Turberville, who died in 1316, and his young son. But time has not solved one of the church's mysteries.

There is stone tablet fixed to the eastern arch that depicts the image of a monk with a round, clean-shaven face and a body clothed in a habit, but no one has ever found out who he represents.

CAPTION(S):

HISTORIC The stained glass window.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 27, 2002
Words:343
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