An early Christian inscribed stone stands here. The church may have been established by St. Llawddog between 568 and 600 A. D.. On 20th May 1283 Adam de Cardigan was the Rector of the parish Church of St. Llawddog. The church was valued in 1291 at £4 per annum, Thomas David being the Rector at that time. On 3rd December 1325 the advowson of the church, of the value of 6 marks per annum, passed to Thomas le Blount and his wife, Juliana. She was lately the wife of John de Hastings, tenant-in-chief, deceased. The property was hers as dower from her late husband. On 26th July 1387 John Hyggendon of Kidwelly exchanged his living of Manordeifi to become Rector of Cilgerran. His predecessor had been Thomas ap Gwilym, who had received the post from Richard II by reason of his custody of the son and heir of John de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke. On 2nd May 1394 Clement Charles became the Rector after John Hyggendon resigned.
On 9th October 1495 David ap Thomas became the Rector, following the resignation of his predecessor, Thomas Lloyd. Jasper Tudor presented the position. In 1513 and 1517 the church was exempted from payment of the King’s Tithes. On 29th January 1524 Henry VIII presented William Vaughan the position of Rector. In 1535 the church was valued together with that of Bridell, at £9 per annum. The Queen, acting as Marchioness of Pembroke, presented the church to Thomas David, Rector the same year.
On 18th January 1549 Griffith Williams described himself in his will as of “…Cilgerran, clerk…”, probably as he was the Rector. On 16th September 1567 Einon David may have been the Rector. Reference was made on 26th September 1577 to “… David ap William Pris, parson of Cilgerran, yeoman…” William Pris was a Cilgerran tailor. In 1580 Rice Powell was the Rector. In 1618 Thomas Panton, Rector, was bequeathed some sheep by Ellen Garnons, widow of John Garnons. He was still Rector in 1620. On 26th January 1622 Edward Provand was presented the Church by the King. He is referred to as leasing the King’s Weir at Cilgerran in 1625. By 28th June 1633 lands in Bridell parish were in his tenure.
On 20th September 1669 John Jones became the Rector, following the death of his predecessor. On 31st December 1671 David Davies, Curate of Bridell Church, became the Curate here also. He wrote his will on 6th August 1686 and probate was made on 14th July 1687. In April 1686 John Harries may have been the Curate, as may Methuselah Davies in 1693. On 25th March 1700 Rev. Philip Phillips was presented the church by the King. On 13th April 1706 Rev. Humphrey Brynton was presented the position of Rector by the Queen, succeeding Rev. Philip Phillips. In 1708-11 John Thomas of Forest was the Churchwarden. Rev. Humphrey Breynton died and was buried here in July 1727. On 22nd July 1727 it was stated that Rev. Sutton Morgan had become the Rector of Cilgerran. On 30th April 1730 Rev. Sutton Morgan, M. A., succeeded Rev. Humphrey Brynton, who had died in 1727, and was presented the position by King George II. On 9th January 1736 King George II presented Rev. Rees Evans with the position of Rector after his predecessor, Rev. William Laugharne, was instituted to Newport, Monmouthshire.
On 28th March 1758 King George II, following the death of Rev. Rees Evans who was interred in the cemetery here on 17th January 1758, presented Rev. William Cleaveland with the Rectorship. On 8th January 1778 Rev. Thomas Price became the Rector after Cleaveland was instituted to Haverfordwest. King George III presented the position. On 19th August 1805 Rev. Thomas Price wrote his will, referring to his wife, Anne Price, and children – including Rev. John Price. On 16th September 1806 Rev. David Jones Jnr. became the Rector following the death of Rev. Thomas Price in July 1806 at the age of 56. The position was, again, presented by the King. In 1806-44 Rev. David Jones was the Rector. Rev. Thomas Price was buried in the chancel on 17th July 1806, but his memorial was destroyed during a later rebuild. In 1809 the yearly value of the church from glebe lands and tithes was estimated at £140. In 1811 Richard Fenton visited Cilgerran described the church as:
‘…a very interesting subject for the pencil; but there is nothing in the structure within or without worthy of particular observation…‘
Within the church, however, was “…a beautiful fragment of the rood loft yet remaining…” This fragment of carved oak rood screen was a rare survivor of the Reformation in Pembrokeshire.
In 1825 Thomas Lloyd of Coedmore, Llechryd, challenged Daid Powell Lucas of Cardigan to a 30-mile race across the Preseli hills and won. Enthusiastic supporters smashed the bells to pieces with their wild pealing. Abel A. Gower of Glandovan paid to have them repaired. John Rudhall supplied the new bells the following year. New gates and piers were erected at the churchyard in 1833 at the expense of Abel A. Gower of Glandovan. The church at that time was a double church with two west entrances, the southerly of which had a rude porch. The charnel house stood at that time – a four-walled enclosure with no roof. The windows were mainly narrow single lancets. The E. fenestella to the chancel was a plain, square-headed sash. The E aisle window was a 3-light, with mullions dividing the lights. A stained glass figure head was depicted here. A fragment of the rood loft survived at that time, and the roof was constructed of massive oak rafters. According to Samuel Lewis, writing in 1833:
“…The church, dedicated to St. Llawddog, is an ancient structure, in the early style of English architecture, and in tolerably good repair, with a square tower at the western end; in the churchyard there is a rude stone, bearing an inscription now illegible, but evidently a Roman monumental stone…”
It was resolved at a vestry meeting early in 1836 that a rate should be assessed for restoring the church. The nave and aisle were demolished and, unfortunately, many memorial stones were destroyed. The chancel was left standing. A rood-loft and a charnel-house were destroyed. The architect Daniel Evans was employed on the building. The cost was £312.8s.4d. The nave and aisle were rebuilt using wooden pillars of white deal to support a ceiled roof with rafters of the same material. The nave and aisle had square-headed windows, but the old East window remained. In 1838 the tithes amounted to £191.
On 14th February 1844, following the death of Rev. David Jones, the Lord Chancellor presented Rev. David Evans with the position of Rector. In 1844-71 Rev. David Evans was the Rector. In 1851 Rev. David Evans had a congregation of 150 on Sunday mornings, plus 80 scholars, and 110 attendees in the evenings. By 1853 the inferior deal timbers used in the nave and aisle had decayed to an extent that the building was considered unsafe. In 1853 the church was:
‘…levelled to the ground…for reasons of safety…‘
From 1853-55 the church was rebuilt, save for the C14 tower, to designs by Benjamin Ferrey of London at a cost of £700. In 1854 the stained glass east window was begun by Wailes, and the south aisle east window by O’Connor. On 19th May 1855 the following appeared in the ‘Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian‘:
“…THE CHURCH. KILGERRAN CHURCH, CARDIGANSHIRE.— This elegant edifice having been finished in a very superior manner by the contractors for the rebuilding of it—Mr. John Davies of Kilgerran, and Mr. John Thomas, Llecbryd – was opened again for Divine worship on the 9th inst…”
Between 1855 and 1860, J. G. Howe designed two chancel windows. On 18th August 1859 the Cambrian Archaeological Association visited. After a brief examination of the church, the Ogham stone was described. The Latin inscription upon it read “TRENEGVSSI FILI MACVTRENI HIC IACIT”. A temporary exhibition that year displayed thirteen pennies of King Henry III and a Scotch penny of the same date, found near a stone coffin in the churchyard. About the year 1860 Ballantine installed three windows in the north wall of the nave. About 1865 a vestry and organ-chamber were added in identical style. In 1866 it was noted that the vestry occupied the site of the old charnel-house. Rev. David Evans died aged 67 on 19th June 1871, and was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Charles, who took up the post on 18th July that year and was Rector until 1880.
On 5th October 1877 a faculty was granted for the erection of a reredos. The reredos was indeed erected in 1877 in memory of Louisa Charlotte Stewart, and the chancel was re-floored, both tasks undertaken by Benjamin Ferrey.On 27th March 1879 a faculty was granted for the installation of a plain oak re-table.On 14th August 1880 the following item appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…DEATH OF THE VICAR OF CILGERRAN.—On Sunday evening last, about half-past eight, the Rev. Thomas Charles, Vicar of Cilgerran, expired suddenly through the rupture of a blood vessel. It appears that the rev. gentleman had been conducting Divine service at the church in the evening, and had gone to his house, sat down, feeling as usual, when all at once blood forced itself from his mouth, and in a very short time he expired before medical assistance could be procured. It appears the rev. gentleman had taken occasion on account of the sad accident which befell the coachman of Coedmore the previous Thursday, to preach that evening from the words, “Be ye also ready, for in the hour ye know not the Son of Man cometh.” Deceased was a hale man, and his death has cast a gloom over the neighbourhood. The funeral took place on Thursday last, and was very largely attended…”
On 30th October 1880 the Lord Chancellor made Rev. Thomas Jones the Rector, following the death of Rev. Thomas Charles on 8th August 1880, at the age of 55. On 7th September 1888 Rev. Thomas Jones accepted another posting, at Penbryn. On 29th November 1888 Rev. Thomas Parry became the Rector. On 31st December 1907 Rev. Thomas Parry resigned as Rector, due to his failing eyesight.
On 20th March 1908 Rev. David Jenkins, B. A., was inducted as the new Rector. The Lord Chancellor presented the position to him. On 10th September 1909 an extension of the graveyard was consecrated, with the new wall by William Joshua. The church had been renovated by Messrs. D. Jenkins and J. Morgan, and the interior redecorated by James Williams, contractor. On 9th January 1914 Rev. David Jenkins was instituted to Penboyr, and his successor here, from 13th May 1914, was Rev. John Jenkin Jones. On 28th February 1915 a new organ was dedicated. The organ of 1855 was extended by Messrs. Blackett & Howden of Newcastle-On-Tyne. On 11th June 1926 the Bishop dedicated a World War I memorial tablet and new electric lights. The church was described that year:
‘…The Church of St Llawddog, a building of stone in the Decorated style, consisting of chancel, nave, west porch and a western tower containing 3 bells, was entirely re-erected in 1855, except the tower, which is very ancient: the church has a cruciform appearance due to an extended organ reception and vestry room on the east side: there are marble monuments to Abel Anthony Gower esq. late of Glandovan, d. 1 Oct. 1837; Sir Erasmus Gower knt. Admiral of the White, d. 21 June, 1814; and his sister, Letitia Bowen, late of Glandovan; to John Lloyd esq. of Kilrhiwe, d. 11 July, 1657; James Lloyd esq., his brother, d. 1707; Griffith Griffith, surgeon, who perished with all on board HMS Confiance, in a gale off the coast of Ireland, 21 April, 1822; Mrs Margaret Owen, Rhusayson, d. 23 Feb. 1716; and to Abel Gower Esq. of Glandovan, d. 26 March, 1783; all the windows except two on the south side are stained, and there is a memorial window to Captain Colby, 98th Regiment, of Ffynone, Rhosygilwen, killed by a tiger at Rawul Pindi, India, 27 March, 1852, and to his sister, Mrs. Eliza Bearcroft, of Meer Hall, Worcestershire, given by their mother, Mrs. Colby, of Rhosygilwen: there are 350 sittings: in the churchyard on the south side of the church is a monument 8 feet high, 1 ½ feet wide and about the same in thickness, formed of the hard grey stone of the neighbouring Preseley Hills and inscribed:- “Trengussi Filii Macutreni Hic Iacit” – (the body of) Trengussus the son of Macutrenus lies here. The register dates from the year 1708. The living is a rectory, net yearly value £325, and residence, in the gift of the Bishop of St David’s and the Board of Patronage, and held since 1914 by the Rev. John Jenkin Jones, of Durham University…’
On 24th June 1927 tenders were being sought for repairs to the roof. On 22nd January 1928 Rev. John Jenkin Jones announced his forthcoming retirement. On 23rd August 1928 Rev. Henry Howell was inducted by the Bishop as the new Rector. In 1930 a large heating chamber was installed. Rev. Henry Howell died on 1st October 1933 aged 49. On 17th November 1933 Rev. David Lewis Daniel, formerly Vicar of Llangeler, was appointed as the new Rector, and took up his post on 15th January 1934. In 1936 Rev. David Lewis Daniel wrote “Esboniad ar yr Epngyl yn ol Sante Marc” for the S. P. C. K.. Lightening struck the church on 7th November 1936, destroying the electrics. At Easter 1939 there were 147 communicants. On 9th November 1941 the Archdeacon of Cardigan dedicated a new organ. On 3rd January 1943 the Bishop dedicated a new memorial altar dedicated to the memory of G. M. Thomas (1895-1941) of Tymawr, Cilgerran, and donated by his widow and son. On 16th January 1952 the church became a listed building.
On 29th January 1954 Rev. David Lewis Daniel (d.19/08/1955) retired, having announced his retirement on 12th July 1953. On 6th February 1954 Rev. David Jones Lloyd became the Rector until 1980. In about 1958 a new oak lectern was donated in memory of Captain E. W. Gower, Captain E. F. Gower and Pilot Officer D. Gower. In 1958 the organ was renovated and converted to electricity at a cost of £1400 by Osmonds. By 20th June 1970 two new stained glass windows had been dedicated. In 1976 Canon Rev. David Jones Lloyd was still the Vicar. In August 1979 it was proposed to remove and re-align some of the headstones in the churchyard. Rev. Canon David Jones Lloyd ceased to be the rector on 30th June 1980. Rev. M. H. John was the rector in 1982. On 15th August 1982 a new font cover was dedicated, having been made by Mr. Paynter of St. Dogmaels, and dedicated to the memory of Brinley James Lewis. In January 1983 Mrs. A. Owens retired after many years service as caretaker of the church. In 1984 Rev. Euros L. Thomas became the Rector and remained so until 2012. The Gower and Logan Memorial and the entrance were listed in 1998. In May 2003 Rev. Euros L. Thomas became a Canon. He retired due to ill health in autumn 2012 and died soon afterwards.
The building was described by CADW in 1998:
“…EXTERIOR – W tower, nave, S aisle and chancel. N vestry and S organ chamber added c.1865. Cilgerran stone, slate roofs, coped gables and stone cross finials. Tracery in Bath stone and some moulded slate. Plain W tower with cornice, single cusped C14 bell-openings, two with small carved face in apex. Plain chamfered openings below. C20 W doorway. 1853-5 work is in Decorated Gothic style with unusually finely detailed tracery. Hoodmoulds and bicoloured voussoirs to windows. 2-light windows, 3 to nave N, one to vestry N presumably reset from S aisle, one to chancel N and S, two to S aisle. Elaborate 3-light chancel E window with intersecting ogee arches, typical of Lincolnshire. S aisle has equally elaborate 3-light E window, copied from NW window of Castle Ashby Church, Northants. Organ chamber has small traceried rose window. Windowless W end.
INTERIOR – Vaulted tower, plastered walls, open rafter roofs. Stone 3-bay arcade with octagonal piers, chancel arch without capitals, and window reveals. Much 1850’s stained glass, among the best in Dyfed, E window by Wailes c.1854-5, the S aisle E by O’Connor c.1854-5, three nave N windows c.1860 by Ballantine and the two chancel windows by J. G. Howe c.1855-60. S aisle two of c.1970 by Celtic Studios. Ornate Bath stone octagonal font said to by copied from St. Mary Magdelen, Oxford. Bath stone pulpit carved by J. E. Thomas with marble shafting. Encaustic tiles in chancel and reredos of 1877 by E B Ferrey. N door moulded and shafted externally.
MONUMENTS – At W end John Lloyd of Cilrhue (d.1657) with columns and broken pediment; Griffith Griffith (d.1822) oval slate with marble shield and sarcophagus by Daniel Mainwaring of Carmarthen; Abel A. Gower of Glandovan (d.1837) by T. Marsh of London, Gothic white marble; On N wall, J R Phillips (d.1887), author of the History of Cilgerran; C20 memorial to Thomas Phaer of Fforest (d.1560). In S aisle W end, Abel Gower of Glandovan (d.1788) white marble, curved front; Margaret Owen of Rhiwsaison (1730’s) with fluted columns and triglyph cornice, by William Palmer; Sir Erasmus Gower (d.1814) oval with urn and leaves. On S wall, Abel A Gower (d.1857) heavy neo-Grec.
In the churchyard to S, C5 to C6 standing stone inscribed ‘TRENEGUSSI FILI MACUTRENI HIC IACIT’ – a Scheduled Ancient Monument. There are also faint traces of a former Ogam script.
GOWER AND LOGAN MEMORIAL IN CHURCHYARD – Later C19 memorial in grey granite, comprising a raised pedestal with moulded cap some 3m long on which stands, centrally, a slim granite cross with pedestal, octagonal shaft, cap and foliated head. From each side extends a low broad granite platform with moulded plinth and three ridge-backed and hipped-ended granite slabs, each with an inscription on the S sloping side and an incised encircled star on the end slope. The pedestal has an incised trefoil on each end. The inscriptions commemorate on the W side: Hart Logan (d.1873); Sir William Logan (d.1871); and Abel Lewes Gower of Castle Malgwyn (d.1849). On the E side the first is uninscribed; then Louisa Stewart of Rhosygilwen (d.1877); and Elizabeth Gower, nee Logan (d.1876). On the pedestal end is an added plaque of 1975 commemorating Sir William Logan’s work on the Geological Survey of Canada 1847-69.
Low outer granite plinth with ornate low iron rails.
CHURCHYARD GATES AND PIERS – 1833 gates and piers. The piers are rusticated Cilgerran stone with plinth and pyramid capstone. Below the capstone, fluted panel and horizontally reeded angles. The right hand pier is inscribed ‘1833 the gift of A A Gower Esq of Glandovan’. Short length of square rubble stone wall with slate coping each side. In the wall to the left is a plaque reading ‘1833 these pillars, iron gates, grating and adjoining wall together with the wall to enlarge the approach to the entrance gates and stone hedge to the glebe land were done at the expense of A A Gower Esq of Glandovan out of reverend respect to the mother church and for the accommodation of the Rector, parishioners and those frequenting it’.
Pair of broad wrought iron gates with down-curved top-rails, spearhead dog-bars and scroll work to dog bars and hanging stiles…”
ADDITIONAL – Altar consecrated 03/01/1943 has carved tracery to front. Pulpit by Mr. Thomas of London.
NLW Cornwall MS P6
Pembrokeshire Record Office: Abstracts of Wills 1805
An Historical Tour Through Pembrokeshire, Richard Fenton 1811
Pigot’s Directory of South Wales 1830
The Religious Census of 1851
Archaeologia Cambrensis III Vol. V, 1860
The History of Cilgerran, John Roland Phillips 1867
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1868; 1870-71; 1880; 1888; 1898; 1905; 1907-09
1914-15; 1926-28; 1933-34; 1941; 1943; 1952-54; 1956; 1958; 1970; 1976; 1979-80;
1983; 1994; 2000; 2003
A Guide to Cardigan & District, William Edward Yerward James 1899
Historical Society of West Wales Transactions Vol. I, 1911
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1926
Episcopal Register of St. David’s
Notice – Proposed re-alignment of headstones – St Llawddog’s Church 18/08/1979
Pembrokeshire County History Vol. III ed. Brian Howells 1987
Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest – Cilgerran’, Julian Orbach, CADW
© Glen K Johnson 29/06/2013