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ST DEINIOL'S CHURCH, PEMBROKE

Site Details



NPRN 308942

Map Reference SM90SE

Grid Reference SM9821100476

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Pembroke

Type of Site CHURCH

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Early Medieval, Post Medieval, Medieval

Site Description St Daniel’s Church is situated within a curvilinear churchyard which occupies a prominent hilltop. Its subcircular churchyard and Celtic dedication indicate that the site may have early medieval origins. The church was a donative free chapel in 1291, of St Mary’s Church, Pembroke (NPRN 400435), and belonging to the Deanery of Pembroke. It was annexed to the Benedictine Priory of St Nicholas at Monkton and was transferred, along with priory possessions seized in 1414, to St Albans. In 1484 the church was granted by Richard III to the Mayor and Burgesses of Tenby. In 1534 it was listed as a free chapel. The church was leased by the Crown to William warren in 1551, and the patronage remained in private hands.

The church is a Grade 1 listed building (LB 6453), as a good example of a medieval church with masonry vaults to both nave and chancel, and also retaining one of the unusual Pembrokeshire thin stone spires. It is also considered of historical significance for its connection with John Wesley. The building is constructed of limestone rubble and consists of 3-bayed nave, 2-bayed chancel and 3-storeyed west tower with spire. The nave is thought to pre-date the chancel and tower, which butt against the nave end walls. The tower is thought to be late 14th- to early 15th-century in date, and the spire belongs to a similar period but is secondary. The church was described as neglected in 1721, with services held rarely. In 1733 it was reportedly ruinous. It was restored around 1745, and used by an early Methodist congregation established by the Rev Howell Davies, 'the apostle of Pembrokeshire'. According to his diaries, John Wesley preached here eight times between 1767 and 1789, the church becaming a settled place for his preachers in the Pembrokeshire circuit formed around 1771. Wesley's preferment to the perpetual curacy of St. Daniel's was listed in January 1772. In 1780 it was noted that the church had been in disrepair, but that Trinity House – responsible for the upkeep of the tower and spire as a sea-mark – had accepted a private offer to repair it for the use of John Wesley: but that after the repairs had been carried out the offer changed and the church was leased to another leading nonconformist figure, George Whitfield, for £20 a year. In 1831 the building was reportedly leased to Baptists, and in 1839 it church was offered for sale, leased to a 'dissenting body'. In 1849 the church was sold by W. Bowling to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and a chapel of ease erected (presumably the existing building was repaired), for use as a mortuary chapel. The church was re[aired in 1893, and the spire was repaired in 1896 following a lightning strike. A plaque within the church records that around 1909 the old choir stalls from St Mary's church were moved here and the chancel was renovated.

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, 12 October 2018

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