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St John's Church Tower

St Johns Repair 1937

This is a great picture of repair work to St John's church tower taken in 1937. The white domed building in the background is the National Museum.

St John's is one of Cardiff's two original churchs, both established in the 12th century by the Normans. Sadly, the other church, St Mary's, was abandoned in the 17th century because of flood damage and river erosion. It stood on site of Wetherspoon's Prince of Wales pub, and all that is now left is the name in St Mary's Street.

Both churches were once controlled by Tewkesbury Abbey. This was in the days when Cardiff and Tewkesbury were owned by the Earl of Gloucester. Travel between the two towns would have been by boat along the river Severn.

St John's tower is the oldest part of the building and dates back to the late 15th century. The church was destroyed in 1404 when Owain Glyndwr's army attacked and burnt Cardiff. The main body of the church is late Victorian.

St John's is well worth a visit. I particularly like the Burma Star memorial window and the Herbert Chapel, and I usually call into the cafe for a cup of tea and a cake. If you are lucky, you can grab a seat next to a fine stained glass window.

Occasionally the tower is opened to the public and it is possible to climb the narrow winding stone staircase to the top. Not to be missed!

Cardiff on Foot's Essential Cardiff Walking Tours always finish at the foot of the tower so as to give customers the chance for a quick visit.

Thanks to Roy Thomas and St John's for the picture.