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St Nicholas And St Teilo's Church, Penally

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Map ReferenceSS19NW
Grid ReferenceSS1176999185
Unitary (Local) AuthorityPembrokeshire
Old CountyPembrokeshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval
St Nicholas and St Teilo's Church is situated within a large, rectilinear churchyard, some 200m west of The Burrows dune system and 2km south-south-west of Tenby, where there is thought to have been a llys site mentioned in a 9th- to 10th- century poem. The church faces Caldey Island. The church is thought to be early medieval in origin and was first mentioned in the Llandaff charters (from around AD675), which includes reference to a `cleric? ? indicating that the church may have been an early medieval 'clas' church run by a community of canons. It is mentioned again a number of times in pre-Conquest charters. The Teilo dedication suggests that it may have been the mother church of Cantref Penfro, with subordinate churches at Amroth, Crinow, Crunwere, Ludchurch, Stackpole and St Issells. There was at least one dependent chapelry in the parish. The church lies some 980m south-east of Longbury Bank (NPRN 305459), an important 6-7th century secular site with which it is likely to have been associated. The church is some 1.7km east-southeast of Eccluis guiniau (NPRN 423466), an early medieval ecclesiastical site mentioned in the llandaff Charters. The church is within 2km of Tenby, where there is thought to have been a llys site mentioned in a 9th- to 10th- century poem. The church has four early medieval carved stones (NPRNs 276028, 423463, 423464, 423465), all thought to be in situ. The church was a parish church during the post-Conquest perod, belonging to the Deanery of Pembroke. In 1301 the advowson was granted to the prioress and convent of Aconbury, Herefordshire, by John de Barri, Lord of the Manor of Manorbier and Penally. At the dissolution the advowson fell to the Crown and in 1541 a lease of the rectory was granted to Rice ap Morgan and Richard Merdon of Cranebroke.

The church is a Grade 2* listed building (LB 5992), considered a good example of a mediaeval church with vaulted interiors, fine tower and important richly carved crosses. The building is constructed of limestone and Old Red Sandstone rubble and consists of 3-bayed nave, 2-bayed chancel, north transept and south transept (both with skew passages), south porch and 3-storeyed west tower. The font is thought to date from the 12th century. It consists of a square, scalloped bowl on cylindrical stem with a square base. The nave may be 13th- to 14th- century. The chancel and transepts are thought to be later, possibly 14th-century. The tower may have been added in the later 14th century, and the porch s 15th-century in style. Just before 1833 a gallery was added, containing 66 additional seats. The church was restored in 1850-1851, to the designs of David Brandon, Bloomsbury. It was refenestrated, refloored, replastered and probably reseated. The chancel arch was rebuilt and wall paintings were noted in an unspecified location. The vestry was added in 1844. In 1891 the church was reportedly the first church in Pembrokeshire to have electric lighting installed. Documentary sources refer to paintings: (i) figures near chancel arch (ii) traces of inscriptions throughout church and (iii) stencilled stars.

Sources include:
Cadw, Listed Buildings Database
Cambria Archaeology, 2000, Pembrokeshire Churches, gazetteer, 48
Cambria Archaeology, 2003, Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites Project, Pembrokeshire gazetteer

N Vousden, 23 October 2018