Reynalton Church, Pembrokeshire

REYNALTON CHURCH, SOUTH PEMBROKESHIRE

Dyfed PRN 3483

 RB No. 3386

 NGR SN 0898 0883

 Listed Building No. 6091

 Grade II listed (1998)

First Listed in 1971. Last amended in 1997.

Reasons for Listing: Listed as a simple mediaeval church much restored in the late C19, but retaining some original features.

 SUMMARY

Medieval church; 100% pre 19th century core fabric.

A 3 cell church, small sized. Consists of a chancel/nave, without structural division, 3 bays; south transept, 1 bay; west tower, 2 storeys; medieval. Former south porch?, with parvis?. Limestone rubble construction; internal walls with render/plaster. Slate gable roofs; tower roof not seen. Medieval vaulting in tower, with arch and openings; medieval south transept arch, blocked door and steps. Other openings mainly mid-late 19th century, neo-gothic, plain limestone dressings.

Roofs: medieval vault and mid-late 19th century timberwork. Floors and finishes: mid-late 19th century

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good. Deep wide cutting around 40% of church, primary; shallow external drain around 60% of church; former component beyond 20% of church?; levels lowered in 75% of church exposing footings; suspended floors above a void in 40% of church; few external memorials significantly close to church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – good – very good. 100% pre-19th century core fabric; medieval tower openings, vaults, south transept arch, blocked door and steps.

Group value: high. Medieval landmark church, with tower; large triangular churchyard.

Phasing:

Phase 1 – Chancel/nave, C12-14.

Phase 2 – South transept (and former south porch), C15.

Phase 3 – West tower, early C16.

Phase 4 – Restored mid-late C19, low impact.

DESCRIPTION

The present church

Reynalton Church is a 3-celled church, of small size. It retains approximately 100% pre-19th century core fabric.

The present church consists of a 3-bayed chancel/nave, without structural division, a single-bayed south transept and a 2-storeyed west tower. Construction is in limestone rubble; the exterior has been extensively, and poorly repointed in the 20th century with some render on the north wall; the interior is plastered. The west tower ground floor is barrel-vaulted, medieval. The tower and south transept arches are medieval, as are some windows; other openings are mainly mid-late 19th century, neo-gothic, with plain limestone dressings. Roofs are slated gables; the tower roof was not seen.

The chancel/nave east wall has a pronounced external basal batter. The double lancet chancel east and north wall windows are from the mid-late 19th century, as may the single, square-headed light in the east bay south wall. The south door has plain 2-centred head and appears to have been rebuilt in the mid-late 19th century; to the east, the internal face of the south wall exhibits a stoup in a chamfered segmental-headed recess, 15th – 16th century. The softwood collar-rafter roof trusses are bolted, and mid-late 19th century; plastered above. The slate flagged floor is probably mid-late 19th century, and the level appears to have been lowered exposing the internal footings.

The south transept is entered through a very depressed semicircular arch, chamfered, on ‘corbelled’ impost stones, all late 15th century. It is lit by a double lancet window in the south wall, like the chancel/nave windows and similarly mid-late 19th century. A flight of steps is built into the west wall, leading up to a blocked doorway which can only have led to a parvis over a former south porch. Roofed as the chancel/nave. The floor is fully carpeted, flagged?; there is an underfloor void.

The west tower is not typical of the region , comprising just 2 storeys and lacking an external batter and string-course. It is not tapered. A square spiral stair turret projects from the east half of the north wall, which terminates as a gable below the summit of the belfry stage. The ground floor is entered from the nave through a plain 2-centred arch, from the early 16th century. The low west door has been blocked, and the double-lancet window above, like the rest, is from the mid-late 19th century, but occupying a 16th century embrasure. The 2-centred barrel vault is pierced for bellropes, and early 16th century. The floor is flagged as the chancel/nave, but over a void. The belfry stage has single-light, square-headed openings in all 4 faces, early 16th century, the crenellated parapet lies on an external corbel table, also 16th century.

A wide, deep earth cutting runs around the north and east walls, primary, where the church is built into the hillslope; no corresponding platform. A shallow external drain runs around the remainder of the church. There may be below ground evidence for a possible former south porch. Floor levels have been lowered in the chancel/nave and south transept exposing internal footings. Floors are suspended above a void in the west tower and south transept. Few external memorials lie significantly close to the church.

Structural development

Vertical offsets at either end of the internal faces of the chancel/nave walls, 1-2m in from the present end walls, may define the original extent of the chancel/nave; 12th – 13th century?, extended in the 13th – 14th century?. The form of the south transept arch suggests a later 15th century date. The west tower was added in the early 16th century. A south porch, with a first floor parvis, may formerly have adjoined the south transept and have been contemporary with it; a plan of 1953 depicts an ‘enclosure’ between the south door and the transept east wall, which may represent footings of a porch that were then still visible (Kay, 1953).

In 1833 the church was in a ‘very dilapidated condition’ (Lewis, 1833). It was restored in the mid-late 19th century, to judge from the window openings, but neither the precise date, nor the architect, is known  (Nicholas, 1995, 3). The restoration was low impact, comprising refenestration, rebuilding the south door, reroofing the nave and transept, and reflooring, reseating and replastering the interior.

There has been little further work beyond repointing.

The softwood pews and tower vestry screen are from the mid-late 19th century. The chancel fittings are later 20th century.

The limestone font has a square bowl and stem, probably 13th century, on a modern base.

The church was Grade II listed in 1998.

First Listed in 1971. Last amended in 1997.

 SITE HISTORY

 There is no firm evidence for the pre-conquest religious use of the site.

Reynalton Church was a parish church during the post-conquest period (Rees, 1932), of the medieval Deanery of Pembroke. It was a possession of the Priory of St Thomas, Haverfordwest, with an annual value of £2 13s 4d in 1538-9 (Green, 1913, 256).

At the dissolution, the patronage passed to the crown and then into private hands. In 1833 the living, a perpetual curacy, had recently passes from the patronage of the Rector of Begelly to that of the Bishop of St Davids; it was endowed with £600 royal bounty and £200 parliamentary grant (Lewis, 1833).

In 1998 Reynalton Church was a parish church. The living was a vicarage held with Jeffreyston, Loveston and East Williamston (Benefice 668) in the Archdeaconry of St Davids, Rural Deanery of Narberth (St Davids, 1997-8).

 The dedication is unknown but is occasionally given as St James (RCAHM, 1925, 305).

SOURCES CONSULTED

 Map Evidence

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, First Edition, Pembs. Sheet XXV.5.

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, Second Edition, Pembs. Sheet XXV.5.

NLW, Parish of Reynalton, Tithe Map, 1843.

Rees, W., 1932, South Wales and the Border in the XIVth century.

 Church in Wales Records

Nicholas, F., 1995, Quinquennial Report, Reynalton.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

Parish Records, Pembrokeshire Record Office, Haverfordwest

(HPR/142 – Reynalton)

Unpublished Accounts

Kay, R. E., 1953, Plan and notes on Pe 884, Reynalton Church (in National Monuments Record, Aberystwyth)

Thomas, W. G., 1964, Pe 884, Reynalton Church (in National Monuments Record, Aberystwyth)

Printed Accounts

Gordon Partnership, 1993, Redundant Religious Buildings in West Wales.

Cadw, 1996, Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Kilgetty/Begelly).

Green, F., 1913, ‘Pembrokeshire Parsons’, West Wales Historical Records Vol. III.

Fenton, R., 1903 edn., A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire.

Lewis, S., 1833, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales.

RCAHM, 1925, Inventory: Pembrokeshire.

Salter, M., 1994, The Old Parish Churches of South West Wales.

SPARC (South Pembrokeshire Partnership for Action with Rural Communities),  n.d., Reynalton leaflet.

Up dated – October 2021 – PKR.