A number of early Christian stones can be found here. The site was probably first occupied after the dissolution of the Abbey in 1536 and replaced the old St. Thomas’ Church. In 1535 Rev. David Howell had been made Vicar by the Abbot of St. Dogmaels. In 1601-11 Rev. Nicholas David of Parcypratt was the Vicar. The Slebech deeds for 1612 refer to:
“…the church of St. Thomas within the vill of St. Dogmael alias Llanlleere…”
In 1614-17 Rev. Thomas Price was the Vicar. In 1615 he appeared at the Great Sessions:
“…for keeping at St Dogmells without a license a common tippling house and for selling ale and beer…”
On 3rd January 1624 Rev. Edward Provand was the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood – perhaps the first to hold all three parishes. In June 1626 Rev. William Lloyd may have been the Curate or Vicar. By February 1640 Rev. John Vaughan was the Vicar. In November 1662 the Vicar of the three aforementioned parishes, Rev. John Vaughan, was ejected from his post for being a Nonconformist, and the churches sequestrated. In September 1663 Rev. David Morgan may have been the Vicar or Curate. On 26th August 1671 a petition was sent from the inhabitants of the parish to the Bishop, urging that Rev. Thomas Howells, who had become Curate on the suspension of Rev. Luke Garnons, the Vicar, should be admitted incumbent of the parish. In 1672 Rev. Stephen Hughes was the Vicar. In August 1675-December 1678 Rev. Thomas Howell was Vicar or Curate here. On 5th May 1680 complaints were made that the fishermen of St. Dogmaels were storing their oars and nets in the church. In 1681-87 Rev. Owen Evans was the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood. In 1684 Richard Rees and John Bowen, churchwardens, wrote:
“…Our parish church is at present in very good repair, and is commonly kept in such cleanliness, decency and order as becomes God’s House, except our bells which want casting anew, and our chancell to be rebuilt. Neither bells, lead etc., belonging to our Church or chancel hath been sold at any time, or embezzled by any body to our knowledge. We have a font standing in a convenient place, but there is no cover to it. There is in our chancel a decent Communion Table, with two carpets, one of fine cloth, another of fine linen to spread theron at ye administration of ye Lord’s Supper. We have also a good silver chalice, with a cover of ye same, and one pewter flagon, belonging to ye service….We have in our church a convenient seat for our minister to read Divine service in, and a pulpit with a cloth and cushion for ye same. We have also a Welsh and English Bible of ye last translation, in a large volume. We have two large Common Prayer Books, one in English and another in Welsh. We have a comely surplice. We want a book of parchment therin to register ye names of ye persons marry’d, xten’d and buried within our parish. But ye names are yearly (as we suppose) brought to ye Bishop’s Registry…”
They added that:
“…there is no mansion house and there never was any (to our knowledge) belonging to ye minister of our parish…”
The clerk, not chosen by the Vicar, had once left the church door open:
“…so that a horse grazing in ye churchyard lately ran into ye church in ye heat of ye day…to ye great offence of ye parishioners…”
Rev. Owen Evans was the Vicar. Members of the Poulton and ap John families of the parish were excommunicated for non-attendance and refusing to take the sacrament.
On 3rd May 1687 Rev. Owen Evans was succeeded as Vicar by Rev. John Evans. In 1691 there was a dispute relating to the claiming of rectoral tithes in the parish. In 1699 David James John and Evan Hugh were the wardens. In 1699-1719 Rev. David Evans was the Vicar of the parish. On 24th July 1728-37 Rev. David Lloyd was the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood. He was dead by 2nd August 1737. On 8th June 1738 at a vestry meeting presided over by the Vicar, Rev. Morgan Gwynne, £5 was given for repairs to the church. In 1738-46 the Vicar of the three churches was Rev. Morgan Gwynne. In 1740 the building was visible in an illustration by Samuel & Nathaniel Buck. In 1748-67 Rev. John Davies was the Curate. On 28th February 1748 £3. 10s was allocated at a church vestry meeting for repairs to the church:
“…Ordered that the Churchwardens should forthwith get the South Window lying near the pulpit Repared at a reasonable rate at the expense of the parish…Ordered that the Wall round the churchyard and the gates be repaired at the expense of the parish…”
On 29th November 1749 a vestry meeting agreed that:
“…ye Churchyard’s wall and ye windows to be mended upon the Account of ye parishioners…”
On 14th January 1754 the Vestry meeting elected to sell a broken church bell to the parishioners of Cardigan at a cost of ten pence per lb. On 18th August 1756 Rev. William Harries became the Vicar until at least 1760. On 19th June 1759 at a vestry meeting it was:
“…also agreed with James James of Cardigan for Glazing Two windows…It was agreed with David Richard of Sgyborhen to make a new shutter upon Two of the church windows…”
In 1768 Rev. Lewis Walters was the Curate and became the Vicar in 1769. On 30th March 1776 until 31st October 1825 Rev. William Jones was the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Llantood and Monington. In June 1776 repairs to the roof were proposed. On 11th September 1776 it was agreed to repair:
“…the two large windows that’s opposite one another by the font which are at present without glass…”
On 8th October 1776 a vestry meeting resolved:
“…to rebuild the West Pine end of the aforesaid Church, the Rate to be agreed…”
On 18th October 1776 it was:
“…Agreed…with David Richard, mason, to rebuild the West pine End of the aforesaid Church for Two shillings and Three pence…to be finished in six weeks time, the aforesaid mason to be at the whole expence, which is three lighter loads of stone from Kilgerran, six bushel of lime by Cardigan measure and other stone if wanted…”
On June 13th 1777 a vestry meeting agreed to fine any person found playing ball or gaming within the churchyard the sum of one shilling for each offence, the money so raised to go to the church funds. On 2nd August 1779 Rev. William Jones married Margaret Makeig of Llandygwydd. Former Vicar Rev. William Harries died before March 1786.
At a vestry meeting held on June 4th 1787 it was agreed that Thomas Griffiths, James Nicholas and Benjamin Thomas, masons, would be employed:
“…for making the Floor of the Church Even, Flagging from Door to Door and from there to the Chancel three yards wide…”
This work would be done with flagstones at a cost of £6. 16s. 6d. The work was to be completed before the Visitation to Cardigan. Morris Morris was employed to:
“…complete the rails and table according to agreement made…”
In 1789 Rev. William Jones wrote an item in the parish register describing a fishing tragedy, which cost the lives of no less than 27 fishermen from the village. An illustration of 1791 shows a gable with a bellcote at the church. On 11th March 1794 a vestry meeting agreed:
“…to convert the South side Window in the Church into a door to enter therin with the consent of Arthur Jones Esq, agent to J W Deedes, impropriator, which he has granted on condition to preserve the same in sufficient repair…”
Part of the church appeared in an illustration in 1796 by J. C. Varrall. On 21st July 1802 a vestry meeting agreed to repair or renew “…the Church Yard gates and Styles….” They also elected to repair or replace:
“…the Windows and Shutters requisite for the Church…and likewise the Coffer and Pulpit seat of the said Church, which are out of repair…”
On 27th October 1802 the vestry minutes elaborated on the matter of the windows, stating that they wished to make the windows of the nave:
“…uniform with that opposite the Old Bell and…have agreed with Owen Rowland, mason, to make the masonry of the windows…”
The work by Owen Rowland was to be completed for £2. 4s. 6d. Benjamin James, carpenter, was employed:
“…for making the windows and shutters to every Window of the Nave of the Church for the sum of One Pound, Seven Shillings. The said windows to be Sash Windows and the Top to be Gothic, uniform with the Window by the Bell…”
In 1803 Malkin observed, after describing the abbey ruins:
“…There is a church or chapel within the precincts, seemingly built from the dilapidations of the ancient fabric, but I shall not think it my duty to give an account of all the filthy and disgraceful churches in these villages…”
A vestry held on 8th December 1803 agreed that John Daniel John should be paid £1. 13s for repairing the windows and shutters in the pine end of the church. In 1809 the chancel was re-roofed, though using rather inferior quality materials. At that time a small bell, which had stood in a frame on the floor on the north side of the nave, was placed in a small bell turret. In 1811 Richard Fenton described the church as being:
“…of mean appearance, but very long, and evidently raised from the ruins of the abbey, as the windows of the chancel, though now without glass, exhibit remains of workmanship that could never have been meant originally to furnish such an edifice…”
In 1811 the Methodists separated from the established church and had to leave the chapel built for them by Rev. William Jones. This must have been a difficult time for the Vicar, as he had long been a keen Methodist supporter. On May 4th 1825 Margaret Jones, wife of Rev. William Jones, died aged 73. Rev. William Jones died on 31st October 1825 aged 77, having been Vicar of St. Dogmaels for about fifty years. He left sons Thomas Morgan Jones; William Jones; Rev. John Jones; Daniel Jones and Rev. James Jones, and a daughter named Margaretta Catherine Jones.
On 1st August 1826 Rev. Henry James Vincent became the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood until 1865. On Whitsunday 1827 the new Vicar ended the practice of ball games taking place in the churchyard annually on that feast day, by positioning two constables at each entrance to the site. On 28th January 1828 Rev. Henry James Vincent was granted a license to marry Margaretta Catherine Jones, daughter of the previous Vicar. On September 17th 1829 Thomas Morgan Jones, surgeon, son of the late Rev. William Jones, was buried at St. Dogmaels having died aged 47. On the occasion of the 1831 election, drunken villagers climbed the bell turret and cracked the bell using a sledge hammer. On 18th July 1831 Margaretta Catherine Vincent, wife of Rev. Henry James Vincent of Penstar was buried at St. Dogmaels having died aged 48. In 1833 the chancel was re-roofed and ceiled, and parts of the external walls were repaired/rebuilt when they were discovered to be in very poor repair. Rev. Henry J Vincent, writing in about 1864, said the following of the Lay Improprietor of the tithes, Mr Deedes:
“…About A. D. 1809 he new roofed the chancel of the Church of St. Dogmells, and in 1833, when it was proposed to to ceil and paint the chancel, application was made to him to ceil the chancel, to which he acceded. The roof of the Chancel, although little more than twenty years old, was subsequently condemned – the scantiness of the timber being so slight and insubstantial, the materials so bad and the work altogether so slovenly performed, although it is probable that the cost was not small. On a second application he consented to roof the chancel again. When the roof was taken down, the walls were found to be unsound. The writer really felt a sense of shame in applying to Mr. Deedes the third time. He did so, however, and was successful…”
In 1835 the bells were sent to Gloucester to be recast or sold and the present (as at 1865) bell was acquired. The church is indicated on the 1838 Tithe Map. In 1847 plans were made for a new parish church, which was estimated to cost £600. On 21st April 1848 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…ST. DOGMELLS NEW CHURCH.—In consequence of the tenders sent in exceeding the sum of money in the hands of the committee, some alterations are about to be made in the plans, in order to bring it near the original estimate of the architect, before the tenders are decided and the. building commenced. We understand there are several tenders in for the building, and it its expected the decision will be given in a short time…”
The following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘ on 31st March 1848:
“…ST. DOGMELLS.—A new church is about to be erected upon the old site, from the designs of Mr. Ashpital, architect, Threadneedle-street, London. The plans and specifications are left with Mr. Daniel Evans, the superintendent of the works of the new national school and church, and the tenders are to be delivered to the committee for building the same on the 1st of April next, when the most eligible estimate will be accepted. The expense of erecting the church will be defrayed by subscription,
and with the aid of the Society for Building New Churches…”
On 5th May 1848 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…SAINT DOGMELLS,— A vestry was held in the parish church of Saint Dogmells, on Monday, the 24th ult., for the purpose of appointing churchwardens for the ensuing year, when Mr. Jacob Hughes, at Clawddcam, and Captain George Bowen, of Saint Dogmells, were proposed and elected. The gallant captain being proposed, and seconded, by the Vicar alone, we very much doubt the validity of the election, although Captain Bowen is a respectable householder, and a man of considerable property. But taking the sense of the law as laid down by Prideaux.” he is not a fit and proper person”, to take upon himself the duties attached to his office. That is, he does not reside in the parish one month out of the twelve in the year. Farther the duties imposed on church-wardens require that they must be members of the Established Church; that they must be inhabitants and residents in the parish; and that they are obliged to be present at the parish church, for which they are chosen, on all Sundays, Holidays, &c., &c. which Captain Bowen is incapable of duly performing when his situation in life calls him to be traversing the wild ocean. And as the office of church wardens requires personal attendance, we are at a loss to find how Captain Bowen can conveniently serve in that office at all.— Communicated…”
On 30th June 1848 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…ST. DOGMELL’S CHURCH. SIR, —Having observed a letter signed “A Churchman,” to the Pembrokeshire Herald of the 23rd instant, relative Saint Dogmells Church, I beg to state that the writer for reasons best known to himself, dares not affix his name to it, but rather chooses to vent his spleen under the name of A Churchman, which in reality there is reason to believe he is not, in the proper acceptation of the word, entitled to, appears to be actuated by motives not creditable to himself in thus publishing a wilful misstatement. I should not have deemed it necessary to notice the letter referred to, had it not been preceded by two or three paragraphs published of late in your paper relative to the parish of Sajnt Dogmells, which, I have no doubt, emanated from the same source. I now think it right that the public should be made acquainted with the real state of the facts, as has been so directly appealed to by your correspondent. It is true that about two years and a half ago, a church rate was made, amounting to about £ 180, for new roofing the present church in Saint Dogmells, about £ 100 of which was collected, and is safely deposited at Messrs. Morris and Sons of Carmarthen. After making the said church rate, it was deemed advisable that the church should be rebuilt, the present fabric having been carefully inspected by art architect. A neat but plain plan was, accordingly, prepared,, by competent architect, with extensive church accommodation for the parish, which contains a population of nearly 3,000 persons, at an estimated expense of less than £ 1,000, which plan has been approved of by the Bishop of the diocese and the Church Building Society. For that purpose subscriptions were entered into by the principal part of the landowner connected with the parish, and others. It also affords me great satisfaction to state that the Queen Dowager, the Bishop of Saint David’s, and the Church Budding Society, have severally contributed towards the same object. The reason why the rebuilding of the church has not been commenced is, because sufficient funds have not been raised for that purpose. I should also observe that it was at a vestry held in Saint Dogmaels Church, specially tor that purpose, “That the rate be made before for new roofing the, church, should be applied towards the rebuilding thereof,” As regards the concluding portion of your correspondent’s letter, I unhesitatingly declare that I believe the same to be totally unfounded, and challenge him to prove the assertion made therein, “That certain directors are depriving the inhabitants and the public, from year to year, of their worship, and forcing many respectable families to abandon principles they have been reared in, from their Infancy, to become members of Dissenting chapels” If such an assertion were intended by him to bear reference to the Church at Saint Dogmaels, I believe there are few, if any, country churches in the Diocese of Saint David’s better attended than the parish church of Saint Dogmells, and I am sure it grieves every right thinking person, that anyone, assuming the name of “Churchman,” should be so void of principle as to publish a misrepresentation of facts, for no other purpose than an attempt to annoy the much respected Vicar and friends of the church in that parish. I remain, sir, Your Obedient servant, RICHARD D. JENKINS, Cardigan, June 29, 1848…”
On 7th July 1848 the following reply appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…SAINT DOGMELLS CHURCH. SIR,—With surprise I have read a letter, signed by R. D. Jenkins, of Cardigan, in the Pembrokeshire Herald, of the 30th of June, in answer to my letter, which appeared on the 23rd ult., in which I am described as guilty of publishing a wilfull mis-statement, and that I dare not fix my name to it. To say that I do not merely assume the name of a “Churchman,” but that I actually am a member, a supporter, a friend to the Established Church, and a much older Member than my respected friend R. D. Jenkins and that the only motive I had, and have as yet, in view is to expose certain transactions respecting the business of the parish of St. Dogmells,—not only to those individuals concerned therein, but to the public at large, in order that certain abuses, if possible, be rectified. I declare that the whole of my former letter is founded on facts that my worthy friend, R. D. J., cannot, nor dare not, deny,—he has endeavoured to do so, but, in truth, he has failed. Why, in one part of his letter, he says it is all true and that the public ought to be made acquainted with the state of the facts: honestly 1 say so they ought, and so they shall be:—1st.—A vestry was held in the parish church at St. Dogmells for the purpose of making a church-rate for repairs to the fabric, and also the walls of the churchyard. On or about the 7th of February, 1846. It was then unanimously agreed to that such rate should be assessed for, which amounted to the sum of £ 183.7s. 4d., or thereabouts, for the very express purpose, as described by the worthy Mayor of Cardigan, of defraying the expenses of repairing the parish church. The arrears, about £ 80, still remain uncollected The moiety collected, I understand, was a little time back deposited in the Messrs. Wilkins’s Bank, at Cardigan, and interest received for the same, and honestly accounted for. Now, I ask my honest friend, R. D. J., the money having been withdrawn from Wilkins’s Bank and deposited at Morris and Sons, Carmarthen. 2ndly I ask do Morris’ and Sons pay interest thereon? 3rdly Then in whos name is the money deposited at Carmarthen? Is it in the name of R. D. Jenkins? If so, be it known to the Public that it is the property of the poor rate-payers of the Parish of St. Dogmells, extracted from their quota with tears in their eyes (barely being 7s. 6d. a bushel at the time); and now, in the middle of the year 1848, they are told by Mr. R. D. Jenkins that their money is safety deposited with Morris and Sons, at Carmarthen. What a consolation to the hard-working inhabitants of the parish of St. Dogmells this must be! Further R. D. Jenkins presumes to state the reason why the rebuilding of the church has not commenced, he says, sufficient funds have not been raised for that purpose. Again he says “Subscriptions were entered into for the purpose, and the Queen’s Dowager, the Bishop of St. David’s and the Church Building Society, have severally contributed towards the same object.” I ask, where is the amount of their contributions deposited? Why not deposit the whole in one place—with Morris and Sons, at Carmarthen But I fearlessly say that contributions to a large amount are now with other parties, unaccounted for as yet, and remain in their hands, doing as they like with it. Again I ask why a church-rate was extracted from the pockets of the poor rate-payers of St. Dogmell’s, nearly three years back, under the pretence of repairing the parish church? It must have been for no other purpose than to aggrandize the coffers of Morris and Sons, of Carmarthen! Since R. D. Jenkins now avows, that the moiety of rate collected is now safely deposited there! In the next place, he dare not deny that the money has not beep hawked from one party to another? Why, here are certain proofs of it! He says in another part of his statement, that after the assessment was made for the repairing it was thought advisable to rebuild the fabric. Why not have inspected the fabric before before the assessment was made as wel1 as after? But as regards the church rate, I beg to acquaint R. D. J. that a rate made for one purpose cannot be legally applied to another, and I would advise certain directors to withdraw money from Morris and Sons, and either apply it to the purpose for which it was levied, or return the same to the rate-payers without delay.
In the latter part of his letter he challenges the person who has given the name ‘A Churchman’, to prove his assertions. Why R. D. J. must be aware that the directors are depriving the parishioners, from year to year, when they levied a rate fro their pockets nearly three years back for the purpose of repairing their parish church, and never applied the money for the purpose for which it was levied, but deposited the same with Morris and Sons, at Carmarthen. Should R. D. Jenkins’ reasons be correct why such delay should have taken place. I fear that the poor rate-payers money of St. Dogmells will forever remain with Morris and Sons at Carmarthen, unless certain parties can secretly convene a meeting and sign a document to mortgage the parish altogether; Such a proposal has been whispered to me. Ha! Ha! What grand proceedings, indeed! Rate-payers of St. Dogmells be aware that ye are not bitten by mad dogs, as dog-days have arrived! I ask does this exposure annoy the respected vicar or the worthy Mayor of the town of Cardigan? If the respected Vicar of St. Dogmells felt himself annoyed in my former letter, well surely he has talent enough to defend himself by using ink and paper, and why should R. D. Jenkins take the matter in hand? Is he one of the honest and respectable directors above referred to? But truly he has said that it must grieve every right-thinking person that such facts as above be known to the public, and well he may say so. Hoping that R. D. J. in his next letter, will endeavour to clear his points and appear blameless before the Public. I am, Sir, as usual, Yours obediently, John Rixon Bevan, St. Dogmells, July 5, 1848…”
Work began in 1848 to designs by A. Ashpitel, London architect. John Davies and John Thomas of Llechryd were the builders, with the work superintended by Daniel Evans of Cardigan. During draining of the churchyard, a small crucifix came to light which appeared to be modelled on the design of the former abbot’s seal of St. Dogmaels. Rev. Henry James Vincent believed it to have been the possession of a former abbot or monk. Alas, the cross was lost in 1859. A font was installed in 1850. Work was completed in 1852 at a final cost of £1500. The funds ran out before the proposed tower could be built. On 23rd April 1852 the following article appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…THE RE-OPENING OF ST. DOGMELL’S CHURCH, PEMBROKESHIRE. On Thursday, the 15th inst., the New Church at St. Dogmells, in the county of Pembroke, was re-opened. For a considerable time the old edifice had been in a miserable state of dilapidation, not from neglect or want of good feeling on the part of the humble worshippers (who are, chiefly poor fishermen and their families), but solely from the hardest of all masters, poverty and necessity. While, however, we announce the pleasing fact to our readers, we think it right to state some of the difficulties which the worthy Vicar, and the ladies and gentlemen who have been working for years in this labour of love, have had to encounter, and have now so happily surmounted. It is now five or six years since the old building, which it was supposed was originally erected from the fragments of the ancient Abbey, in perhaps the worse era of Church architecture, had become ruinous. In the scarcity of resources it was clear that the humblest edifice was all that could be hoped for, and all that could be obtained. Under these circumstances Mr Ashpitel, of the firm of Ashpitel and Whichcord, of Carlton Chambers, London, was consulted that gentlemen prepared such plans as could be executed for the sum it was probable to raise, but pained to see the result he also prepared another set, showing that for a small sum more something like Ecclesiastical effect could be obtained. On exhibiting these drawings the Committee was immediately responded to, and it was with the greatest satisfaction, that Mr Ashpital, in congratulating them in their success, prepared a third set of plans, which has now been carried out; thus, by steps the most laborious and protracted, from sources that seemed utterly barren, the good seed has sprung up. The site of the church has been considered by tourists as one of the beauties of Cumbria. It adjoins the interesting ruins of the Abbey of Saint Dogmells, and lies in the centre of a picturesque village, shaded by trees, and almost surrounded by hills, on the banks of the river Tivy, between the town of Cardigan and the sea. The edifice consists of a nave of five bays, with a couple of lancets at the west end. surmounted by a bell cot. and a chancel more than thirty feet long, with a triplet of lancets, with jamb shafts and hood mouldings. On the north side is a small vestry. The east window is filled with stained glass, of very appropriate design, by Mr Bell of Bristol. The pulpit is of stone, and the reading-desk of wood. The seats are of simple design, and are all open. The building was contracted for and executed in the most satisfactory manner by Messrs John Davies and John Thomas, of Llechryd, near Cardigan. The work is of the best description, in fact, a pattern for such buildings. On the morning of the 15th inst., the Church-yard was filled with a dense crowd of persons, and on the opening of the doors not only was every seat immediately occupied, but every foot of standing space was filled by an attentive and anxious congregation. The morning service was read by the Rev. John Jones (Tegid), Vicar of Nevern, which was followed by a most powerful and appropriate English sermon, preached by the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Saint David’s, after which was an eloquent sermon in Welsh, by the Rev. John Griffiths, Vicar of Llangeler. The clergymen present were the very Rev. the Dean of Saint David’s, the Rev. H. James Vincent, Vicar of the parish, and twenty-two others. In the afternoon the Lord Bishop preached a most eloquent and effective sermon in Welsh, which received the warm approbation of even those who from education and principle are supposed to be the implied opponents of the Church of England. His Lordship’s knowledge and command of a language, which was unknown to him a few years ago, is a source of wonder to all who hear him, and shows what great natural talent, combined with an ardent desire to do good, can attain in spite of every obstacle. Â collection towards the building fund was made, and the, sum collected was upwards of £35; and a considerable portion of this was in small sums, the contributions of the poorer classes indeed, the conduct and exertions of the poor in this good work reflects great credit on their right feelings and self-sacrifices. There still remains a deficiency of about £ 311, after exhausting all local sources. The following report, from another correspondent, contains some other, particulars. ST. DOGMELL’S (Welsh, LLANDUDOCH) NEW CHURCH.- On Thursday, the 15th inst., the new Church of St. Dogmell’s, in this county, was opened. Prayers were read in the morning by the Rev. J. Jones (Tegid), vicar of Nevern. Morning service began at 11 o’clock. when the Bishop of St. David’s preached in English and the Rev. J. M. Griffiths, vicar of Llangeler, preached after his Lordship in Welsh. The sermons were most excellent, delivered most eloquently, and listened to by the congregation most attentively. Evening service held at 11 o’clock, when the Bishop preached in Welsh, when the congregation was even larger than in the morning. There were present in the Church,, judging from actual measurement, no less than 2015 persons, and in the churchyard upwards of 200; but they could all hear his Lordship, who spoke out, and enunciated his words with truly Welsh enunciation and although he preached somewhat upwards of an hour, he was listened to by the congregation with evident pleasure and edification, as well as astonishment. His language was good Welsh, with no admixture of English. His style was strong and nervous, and his sermon was delivered as if he had been a native Welshman. But what is more important his divinity, or doctrine, as well as his earnestness was what pleased his congregation most. for it was the true pure doctrine of the Holy Scripture that he preached and that with. the earnestness of an apostle…”
Stained glass windows (1855) were by Bell of Bristol. Rev. H. J. Vincent wrote an article for “Archaeologia Cambrensis” in 1857. Reference was made in 1858 to the Ogam stone here, with a bilingual inscription. The Latin inscription read “Sagrani Fili Cunotami” and the Ogham read “Sagramni Maqi Cunatani”. Rev. H. J. Vincent was instrumental in organising the 1859 visit to Cardigan by the Cambrian Archaeological Association. In 1862 Rev. John Jones became the Curate. In 1863 Rev. H. J. Vincent was instrumental in having part of Cilgerran Castle repaired. In 1865 Rev. B. Shadrach became the Curate. In June 1865 Rev. Henry James Vincent died.
On 11th September 1865 Rev. Daniel Jones became the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood until 1868. In 1866 Rev. John Williams became the Curate. In 1867 Rev. D. Williams was the Curate. On June 23rd 1868 Rev. Daniel Jones was buried at the church having died aged 56. On 20th August 1868 Rev. Henry Jones became the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood until leaving the post in March 1878. In February 1870 a globe lamp was installed. In early 1870 Rev. J. Davies was probably the Curate. In March 1870 Rev. James Jones became the new Curate until September 1874. The Vicarage and Coach House were acquired by the church on 13th May 1872. In September 1874 Rev. James Jones, Curate, left for Lampeter. In 1875 Rev. Alban Alban became the Curate before the end of May until at least June 1879.
On 15th March 1878 Edward Thomas Jones became the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Llantood and Monington. In December 1879 Rev. John Price Evans became the Curate until at least early 1888. On 3rd January 1883 Rev. E. T. Jones officiated at the wedding of the Curate, Rev. John Price Evans, to Rebecca Lloyd, daughter of the late Richard Lloyd of Panteg, St. Dogmaels. On 16th November 1884 Rev. Edward Thomas Jones gave his farewell sermon. Rev. John Price Evans was Curate-in-Charge during the vacancy. Rev. Thomas Jones became the new Vicar on 3rd January 1885. About the year 1886 various portions of the Abbey ruins were quarried by the Vicar. He was criticised for the same activity in November 1888. On 2nd February 1889 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…PRESENTATION.—A meeting was held in the St. Dogmells National Schoolroom, on Wednesday evening last, for the purpose of taking leave of the Rev. J. Evans, who has been curate of St. Dogmells for many years, and who is taking charge in the upper part of the county, and to present him with a testimonial. There was a large attendance, and a number of eloquent speeches were made by various parishioners. The presentation took the form of a handsome marble clock with inscription (supplied by Mr. T. Sambrook, watchmaker), and a purse of sovereigns. Mr. Evans’ genial nature and kindly disposition had made him many friends in the neighbourhood…”
Rev. Thomas E. Jones, 28, was the Curate here for 1889-90. In April 1889 the Vicar, Rev. T. Jones, was married. On 30th August 1889 the following item appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald’:
“…ST. DOGMELLS. MEMORIAL WINDOW.—A very handsome illuminated glass window has been placed on the south side of the chancel of St. Dogmells Church, in memory of the late Mr Richard David Jenkins, of Pantirion, in that parish, and of Cilbronnau, near Cardigan. The subject chosen is that of the presentation of the Infant Saviour to the high priest Simeon in the Temple, who is represented holding the Infant in his arms, and in the fact of delivering the prayer, Lord,- lettest now Thy servant depart in peace.” The whole of the tracing work is excellently done, and the blending of the colours with lights and shades prominently introduced is very effective. The base of the window bears the words, “This window is erected to the glory of God and in loving memory of Richard David Jenkins, Pantirion, by R. B. Jenkins, M. A. Jenkins, and Mr E. Evans, April, 1885.” The work was designed and carried out by Messrs Clayton and Bell, of, Regent- Street, London…”
The church was refurbished c.1890. In July 1890 Rev. D. Davies may have been the Curate. On October 6th 1890 William Phillips, the churchwarden for more than forty years, died aged 88. By April 1893 Rev. Evan Williams was the Curate and remained so until 1895. At 8 am on 7th January 1895 Rev. Thomas Jones, Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood, died aged 52. On 9th January 1895 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…VICAR OF ST. DOGMELL’S DEAD. The death is announced on Monday last at the Vicarage, St. Dogmell’s, of the Rev. Thomas Jones, vicar of that place with Monington and Llantood, after a long illness. The rev. gentleman took his degree at Queen’s College, Birmingham, was ordained deacon in 1873 and priest in 1875. In 1878 he accepted the living of Gartheli, Carmarthenshire, and in 1884 was collated to that of St. Dogmell’s with the adjacent parishes. The living, which has a gross value of £243. with vicarage. is in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. The funeral will take place at Llandyssul on Thursdav…”
On 2nd March 1895 Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan, Curate of Liverpool, became the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood until 1916. There were complaints in some quarters because he was a self-confessed Liberal. In 1896 Rev. T. M. James became the Curate. In 1899 Rev. John Williams became the Curate. On 17th March 1899 Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan became a member of the new “Pembrokeshire Association for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments”. On 14th July 1899 the Curate, Rev. T. M. James, left for Aberporth. By 18th January 1901 Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan had located some 12th Century documents relating to the Abbey. In 1902 Rev. Thomas Pugh became the Curate. On 9th December 1904 tenders were sought for building a new churchyard wall here. Captain George Richards, Master of the Cardigan Union Workhouse, was the church warden at that time. In March 1905 Rev. Thomas Pugh, the Curate, left. In 1906 Rev. William H. Davies became the Curate.
In 1907 Rev. Daniel Williams became the Curate. In March 1909 the Curate, Rev. Daniel Williams, was appointed the Rector of Bridell. In April 1912 complaints were made about the overgrown and neglected state of the churchyard. In August 1913 a harmonium was presented to the church by Mrs James, Ten Wells, in memory of her husband – the late Captain William James, and her brother – John Evans. On 29th January 1915 Curate Rev. W. Edwards announced his impending departure. On 16th October 1916 Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan died aged 64.
On 24th November 1916 the position of Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood, was offered to Rev. Jenkin Griffith Hughes (b.1877). In January 1917 tenders were being sought for installing gas heating and lighting. On 21st January 1917 Rev. J. G. Hughes was installed as the new Vicar. New gas heating and lighting was installed in 1917. In March 1918 Rev. Peter Jones, the Curate, left St Dogmaels. In May 1919 Rev. D. Bowen became the new Curate. In August 1922 tenders were being sought for repairs. On 29th November 1922 a plaque was unveiled at the church in memory of the late John Jones, village schoolmaster. In October 1923 Rev. Lewis Jones Edwards became the Curate. On 9th November 1923 tenders were requested for building a porch here. On 9th February 1924 a faculty was granted for the erection of the new Memorial Porch. Messrs. J. H. Perry and Hugh Roberts were then the church wardens. Rev. Lewis James Edwards became the Curate that year. In January 1925 permission was given for the extension of the churchyard. On 22nd June 1925 the Bishop dedicated the new memorial porch, built by Messrs. T. Griffiths and J. Williams of St. Dogmaels, and the churchyard, which was greatly extended at the same time. In 1926 a gale blew down two trees in the churchyard. In May 1929 Rev. Jenkin Griffith Hughes made an appeal for repairing the tomb of the late Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan, which had been damaged three years earlier by a fallen tree during a gale. On 6th September 1930 a faculty was granted to the church to remove the altar stone:
“…which stands on edge in the south east corner of the sanctuary in the parish church of St Dogmaels and to erect the same as the Altar of the said church…”
By 26th September 1930 the church had re-opened following redecoration. In January 1931 Rev. Lewis Jones Edwards ceased to be the Curate. Rev. J. G. Hughes remained the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, but relinquished the same role in Llantood and Monington. In April 1933 Rev. J. G. Hughes, Vicar, accepted another calling at Ystalyfera. His last sermon took place on 28th May 1933.
On 28th April 1933 Rev. Lewis Morris, B. A., was announced as the new Vicar. He was installed on 26th July 1933. At Easter 1939 there were 115 communicants. Minor repairs to the chancel were undertaken that year. On 5th February 1943 Rev. Lewis Morris died aged 70. He was succeeded on 30th June 1943 by Rev. William George Jones. In March 1949 the Bishop paid a visit. In 1951 a brass angel lectern was acquired from Messrs. A. R. Mowbrary & Co., London, at a cost of £499.17s. 6d. In July 1952 a new organ was installed by George Osmond & Company for £1560. On 3rd September 1952 the Bishop of St. David’s dedicated the new organ and lectern. The church became a listed building that year. In 1968 Mr. D. Y. Volk of Clawddcam retired as Vicar’s warden and was succeeded as such by his elder son, William Ll. Volk.Mr. D. G. Williams, Almora, remained the people’s warden. Rev. William George Jones remained the Vicar here until he retired in 1973. He died in January 1975.
On 8th February 1974 Rev. Meurig Ceredig Davies became the Vicar until at least 1986. In September 1978 the Bishop of St. David’s visited and dedicated a processional cross and church wardens’ wands in memory of the late Mr. & Mrs. D. G. Williams, Almora, church wardens for 35 years. In 1981 many headstones and railings were removed, the former being placed against the churchyard walls. In 1991-98 Rev. Eric Rhys Williams was the Vicar. On 14th January 1999 Rev. Dorrien Davies became the Vicar. On 18th April 1999 a Breton choir performed here. On 3rd July 2006 H. R. H. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall attended a special service here to mark the 80th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. In summer 2006 some internal alterations were conducted to create a kitchen and vestry. A statue called “Our Lady of Cemaes” was installed in September 2006. In September 2007 Rev. Dorrien Davies became a Canon. In October 2009 Rev. Dorrien Davies announced his intention to leave the following spring to take up a position in St. David’s Cathedral, and he left in April 2010.
On September 23rd 2010 the new Vicar, Rev. Aled Thomas, was inaugurated and was the Vicar here in 2010-12. He resigned in June 2012.
In 1993 the church was described by CADW:
“…EXTERIOR – 1848-52 Anglican parish church designed by A Ashpitel, architect of London. Rock-faced sandstone with steep slate roofs, coped gables, cross finials and W bellcote. Nave and chancel with S porch added 1925. Lancet style with 5-bay nave, two-step buttresses between each single lancet with hoodmould and carved headstop. Two lancets at W end with linked hoodmoulds, headstops and blank quatrefoil in roundel above. Single bellcote with similar hoodmould, side buttresses and Celtic cross finial. Chancel has 3 similar lancets to E with linked hoodmoulds and trefoiled panel in gable apex. Clasping buttresses to E and W angles. N side vestry with parapet, 2-light N window and E door. Two lancets to chancel S. S porch, added 1925, has pointed door, similar hoodmould with carved head stops, and plain door within.
INTERIOR – Simple treatment with thin arch-braced collar trusses, ceiled above collars. Moulded stone chancel arch. E window moulded and shafted. Stained glass west window with 6 medallion scenes, 1852 by Bell of Bristol and in chancel S window of 1889 by Clayton and Bell in C16 style.
At the W end, Sagranus stone, C5 or C6 inscribed in Latin ‘SAIRANI FILI CUNOTAMI’ and in Ogham ‘SAGRANI MAQI CUNATAMI’. By the S door a broken slab with wheel cross in relief. By pulpit, broken stone with incised sword hilt device. Font 1850, scalloped square bowl. Carved stone pulpit, octagonal with pointed arched traceried panels. Brass lectern with Art Nouveau female figure. Chancel stalls with poppyhead finials. In the chancel marble plaques of 1851, 1850 and 1825 on N wall and of 1865, 1868 and 1833 on S wall.
LYCHGATE AND STEPS – Mid C19 lychgate in rubble stone with Bath stone ashlar dressings, coped gables and slate roof. Cross finial to E and moulded round arch, plain chamfer to W side round arch.
Flight of 15 broad slate steps up from Church Street with plain iron rails. Spearhead iron rails and gates at foot.
FORMER BIER HOUSE – Early C19 building, said to have been bier house. Whitewashed rubble stone with asbestos sheet roof. Single storey with timber lintel door to E side and plank door. One small window to N end wall.
WALL ALONG S SIDE OF CHURCHYARD – Later C19 rubble stone wall with rough stone coping and one pointed doorway aligned with similar doorway in wall to rear of the Vicarage.
Pembrokeshire Record Office: HPR/145/15
NLW Morgan & Richardson MSs
St. Dogmaels Parish Registers 1699-
St. Dogmaels Parish Register – Burials 1813-52; 1852-85; 1885-1952
Pigot’s Directory 1830
St. Dogmaels Parish Register – Marriages 1837-1970
Tithe Map for St. Dogmaels 1838
Archaeologia Cambrensis 1858; 1860; 1866
Poster – The History of St Dogmaels, Rev. Henry J Vincent 1865.
The History of Cilgerran, J Rowland Phillips 1867
Log Book – St Dogmaels National School 1867-96
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1875; 1914; 1926
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1870; 1878; 1883-84; 1889; 1894-95; 1899; 1901-02; 1904-05; 1909; 1912-13; 1915-19; 1921-23; 1925; 1929-30; 1933; 1935; 1937; 1943; 1949; 1952; 1968; 1974-75; 1980; 1991; 1997-2000; 2005-10
Memorial – Rev. Evan D Jones, St. Dogmaels 07/01/1894
A Guide to Cardigan & District, W E Yerward James 1899
Subscription List – Rebuilding the Cemetery Wall, St. Thomas’ Church 1904
The History of St. Dogmaels Abbey, Emily M Pritchard 1907
Historical Society of West Wales Transactions Vol. I, 1911; Vol. II, 1912
R C A H M Inventory of Pembrokeshire 1925
Suppliced Choir, St. Thomas’ Church – Blank Form 28/08/1950
Ceredigion Vol. VII No 1 1972
Proposal to remove Headstones & Railings, St. Thomas’ Church cemetery, December 1980
Strangers From a Secret Land, Peter Thomas 1986
Pembrokeshire County History Vol. III ed. Brian Howells 1987
Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest – St. Dogmaels, Julian Orbach, CADW
The Place Names of Pembrokeshire, B G Charles 1993
Historic Houses of Pembrokeshire & Their Families, Francis Jones 1996
Carmarthen Journal 1997
Programme – La Psallette, St. Thomas’ Church 18/04/1999
Monumental Inscriptions, St. Dogmaels cemetery.
Invitation & Programme – 80th Birthday of the Queen, St. Thomas’ Church 03/07/2006
© Glen K Johnson 20/06/2013.