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St Teilo's Church, Solva

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Map ReferenceSM82SW
Grid ReferenceSM8122024050
Unitary (Local) AuthorityPembrokeshire
Old CountyPembrokeshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH
The now destroyed St Teilo's Church (referred to as St Elvis? Church on first edition Ordnance Survey mapping) seems to have disappeared during the course of the present century. The church is thought to be early medieval in origin and its site is to the immediate south of St Elvis Farm. The farm and church site lie within a subcircular enclosure defined by field boundaries/routeways and measuring some 190m from south-west to north-east. Cropmarks, possibly representing an internal ditch and running concentrically within the enclosure boundary, have been noted on aerial photographic coverage and a Neolithic chambered tomb (NPRN 305328) lies on its southern boundary. The enclosure may be a prehistoric ritual enclosure in origin, reused as an ecclesiastical site. The church site is some 390m south-east of an Iron Age defended enclosure (NPRN 305327) which occupies a spur of land on the opposite side of the steep-sided stream valley to the north-west of the church. A curative well, Ffynnon Dogvael (some 600m north-east of the church site) lies further up the stream valley and discharges its waters into the stream. A spring some 30m west of the church site discharges its waters into the same stream. Modern Ordnance Survey mapping depicts the church site some 30m to the south-west of the site depicted on first edition Ordnance Survey mapping, which has been obscured by modern farm buildings. Aerial photographs suggest that the farm has expanded since 1946, any remaining foundations probably being buried beneath recent farm buildings. Frances Jones mentions a holy well at the ruined church, and first edition Ordnance Survey mapping depicts a well to the immediate east of the church site, some 17m north-east of a pond or pool. An early medieval carved stone, St Elvis 1 (NPRN 423604) was first noted on the track to St Elvis Farm, some 100m east of the church site. Internments (noted in 1921) discovered when laying the foundations of adjoining farm buildings suggest that the graveyard was to the north of the church, but the absence of an enclosed churchyard was noted by Lewis in 1833; the inhabitants reportedly preferring to be buried in the adjoining parishes of Whitchurch and Brawdy. A rectangular churchyard is depicted on the 1844 tithe map as a dotted line, meaning it may not have been a hard boundary.

The church was entered as Llanelvech in the Taxatio of 1291. It was the possession of a monastic house during the medieval period, but was in private patronage by around 1600. The church was referred to as `Llanaylevieive? in the Valor of 1536. In 1820 when a Canon of St Davids related how visiting the site he found the caretaker reluctant to admit him to the building. Eventually he forced his way in to discover that it was being used as a storehouse for grain. The last marriage was reportedly solemnised in 1822, but R.E. Kay suggests that this is confused in local tradition with a gypsy wedding which took place at the nearby cromlech. Warburton, however, suggests that this marriage took place between Joseph John servant in husbandry and Jane Mathias, both of the parish of St Elvis. The font from the ruins of the church is now situated in St Aidan's Church, Solva (NPRN 421039). The Pembrokeshire Archaeological Survey describes the church as measuring 35 feet by 17 feet with a porch on the south side (1897-1906,46/5&6). In 1925 the Pembrokeshire Inventory lists a "few bramble-grown foundations in the yard of St Elvies farm". In 1955 the footings of a 15 foot length of wall, a couple of courses high and 2' 9" high was noted in the paddock west of the farm. Traces of plaster remained and embodied in the wall was a very small stone with a roughly incised Latin cross (). By 1966 no indication of the church or graveyard could be discerned and likewise in 1986 no evidence of any buildings in the area could be found.

Sources include:
Cambria Archaeology, 2003, Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites Project, Pembrokeshire gazetteer
E P Dillon NT Report "solva"
Jones, F. 1992, The Holy Wells of Wales
R.E. Kay in N.M.R. files, SM82SW, Ecclesiastical
Warburton, 1944, 33

RCAHMW, 8 November 2018