St Mary's church is believed to have been founded by Harold Godwinson, later the last Saxon King of England. If so, his motives appear more tactical than spiritual; part of his attempt to extend his influence into the territory of the Welsh princes.
There is evidence, however, that there may have been an earlier church on the site, possibly dedicated to St David. The churchyard is almost round, an indication it may have been founded by the Celtic church.
As use of the Welsh language gradually declined, the parish was one of the first in Radnorshire to stop using the Welsh prayer book and bible around 1700.
Later, the village also had two thriving chapels – the Wesleyan built in 1838 and the Baptist opened in 1842. both now private homes. Today Gladestry is a thriving agricultural community, nestled at the tip of the western edge of Hergest Ridge. It is blessed with great walks and enviable landscapes.
St Mary's today is Grade 1 listed and retains several original features despite a restoration in 1910. These include an outstanding pyramidal tower, a 16th century oak roof and a 13th century priests door in the south wall. We endeavor to maintain the historic building so that all may benefit.
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.