The construction of the parish church of Montgomery, a grade 1 listed building at the heart of the historic town of Montgomery, was started between 1223 and 1227; it is dedicated to St Nicholas – St Nicholas of Myra or Bari was a favourite saint of the Normans and 400 English churches are dedicated to him but only a few in Wales.
The North and South transepts were most likely added around 50 years later as chapels or chancels – it is possible that the church was also lengthened at the same time and that the east wall once ended where the Rood Screen now stands.
The tower had to be rebuilt, as by the end of the 18th century it had become unsafe so it was demolished and rebuilt in 1816, at a cost of £1700, paid for by the Rt. Hon. Edward Herbert, Viscount Clive (later 3rd Earl of Powys).
St Nicholas’s church originally had three entrances as well as the one in the tower – a small doorway in the east wall of the south transept, one directly opposite the current main south door, together with the present south doorway.
There was once a closed porch in front of this doorway with a vestry or schoolroom over it, which used to be quite common; the room was entered by a flight of steps on the west side but this was removed c.1868 when the present porch was built.
The size, splendour and central position of the church means that it has always been at the heart of the community’s cultural as well as spiritual life; its heritage is rich, resonant and culturally significant, to both visitors and the community alike
A prominent feature of the church is the double rood screen, of which that on the chancel side is a splendid mediaeval carved screen brought from Chirbury Abbey at the time of the dissolution.
Behind the chancel altar is an exceptional reredos erected in 1892 to the memory of Mrs David Lloyd, of mosaic framed in Caen stone and representing St David and St Margaret, the name saints of the couple, the four evangelists and four major prophets, four archangels, six seraphim and the pelican in her piety as well as alabaster figures by Thomas Earp.
Situated in the historic county town, the church has always served a role for the whole county of Montgomeryshire. On the East wall of the South transept is the County Book of Remembrance recording the names of the fallen from the County of Montgomery, from both world wars.