Churchyard & Grounds

The Churchyard and grounds extend to over 3 acres. The present Gateway was built in 1967-69, replacing the older iron railings and gates. The stumps of a number of large trees can be seen on the grassed banks; cedars and other varieties which nearly hid the church from the road at one lime. On the wall opposite the Porch can be seen a small plaque recording that Mr. Jacob Andrews of 6 Picton Terrace gave a corner of his garden there to the church, in 1912. This straightened the line of the wall as it was in those days, and enabled the Porch to be made visible from the Gateway (the corner of the garden, and the trees, apparently obscured the view). It should be borne in mind that the original church of 1837 lay directly north of the Tower. This explains why many older graves face north, rather than the more traditional eastward direction. There was therefore an empty piece of land between the old church and a boundary wall to the west. Penson’s new Nave of 1855 filled up this space completely: the old wall was so close to the west end that the restorers of 1912-13 would have needed the neighboring landowners’ permission to erect scaffolding before tackling the West Window. However, the Misses Hancocke donated a piece of ground in 1912 to give a right-of-way round the west end, and after Mr. Andrews’ gift a new boundary wall was constructed in 1913. When the Hancocke’s sold in 1917 a further half acre, this new wall was demolished and the present churchyard wall constructed in 1919-20, much further to the west, next to the lane (Picton Court). The line of the old wall is preserved by the pathway running behind the church up to the gate in St.Non’s Avenue. The present wall was repaired in 1989 and the gateway created then.

The Churchyard was consecrated on 3 February 1841, and the first burial (Margaret Davies, aged 22) took place two days later in what was then the north-west corner (now by the gate). On Christmas Day 1842 Ann Williams of Steam Mill was buried at the ripe old age of 115years. ln the 160 years between 1841 and 3 February 2001, 6,326 persons are recorded as having been interred here. Many never had gravestones; others have been damaged or destroyed. In 1854 the Privy Council ordered that no more than 80 burials were to take place here annually: this may reflect concerns arising of overcrowding after the closure of St. Peter’s Churchyard, and before the Borough Cemetery was opened in 1856. ln 1978 many stones were moved for safety to the boundary walls, but a plan of all known gravesites was made beforehand for reference. Most burials after its consecration in 1920 have taken place in the newer extension to the west, which was used for gardens before 1917. It may be noticed that there are few burials behind the north-east corner of the church, because the remains of the old north end of the 1837 church, though demolished below ground level in 1937, lie in this part. The burials here include four of the past Vicars, especially Archdeacon David Archard Williams (first Vicar and founder of St David’s Church 1842-79) who is buried with others of his family by the path behind the church – please see photographs below of his memorial taken before  and after restoration. This was a momentous task and one of the first memorials the charity restored. He was a local man, who was ordained in 1820 and became Headmaster of the Free Grammar School 1824-56, Editor of the Carmarthen Journal , Surrogate of the Bishop’s Consistory Court. Here too are the Revd. Thomas Rees Walters (Vicar 1880-1912), who is buried with his wife just by the east end; the Revd. Evan Alban Jones (Vicar 1931-48); and the Revd. T.Harries Williams (Vicar 1948-62), who are buried with their wives close to the west end.