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St John The Baptist's Church, Slebech

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Map ReferenceSN01NW
Grid ReferenceSN0254615576
Unitary (Local) AuthorityPembrokeshire
Old CountyPembrokeshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH
Period19th Century

St John The Baptist's Church, Slebech, is situated on the south side of the A40, east of Haverfordwest, in a rectangular churchyard partly used as a cemetery, and is positioned on a slight bend making the church a prominent landscape feature when approached from either direction. It was built to replace an earlier church located on the Cleddau estuary about one mile to the south-east (NPRN 300431). The present church was built in 1838-40 (though not consecrated until 1848), but closed in 1990 due to subsidence.

The church was built in a free Early English style, with tall lancet windows throughout, to designs of J.H.Good Jr., for Baron Rutzen of Slebech Park. It is constructed of grey limestone ashlar, generally with a pecked finish and some chiselling, slate roofs with large ogee gutters over a corbelled cornice, and two-stage buttresses with those at the corners capped with lumpish pinnacles.

The church is built on a conventional cruciform plan but is aligned north-east by south-west, the liturgical east being on the north-east. It consists of four-bay nave and short chancel, two transepts, north-east vestry, and west (SW) tower. The tower, which affords entry to the church through its west side, is of three storeys defined by string courses, rising to a parapet with octagonal spirelets at the corners, and with an octagonal spire. The barn-like interior is plastered and is now very plain, with most fittings removed. The interior was fitted up, probably very decoratively, by Mr Fairs of Hanover Square, London, and William Owen (who probably did the woodwork). What partly survives is an impressive tiled floor, of red and yellow encaustic tiles, by Chamberlain of Worcester, incorporating large de Rutzen coats of arms. A major decorative scheme of 1893, by G.E.G. Grey of Cambridge, has been largely obliterated by dampness though some work survives on the boarded chancel ceiling. There is also a nineteenth century Royal Arms on boards. Monuments brought from the old church are now in the county museum.

Sources include:
Extracts from Cadw Listing description.
T.Lloyd, J.Orbach & R.Scourfield, Buildings of Wales: Pembrokeshire (2004), p.451.
Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800, (RCAHMW 2021).