SS Cewydd & Peter, Steynton, Pembrokeshire (PRN 3180)


Dyfed PRN 3180

 RB No. 2815

 NGR SM 9177 0782

 Listed Building No. 12934

 Grade II* listed (1998)

First Listed in 1993. Last amended in 1993.

Reasons for Listing: No reasons stated.


Medieval church; 75% pre-19th century core fabric.

A multicell church, large. Consists of a chancel, 2 bays, with choir-recess/organ chamber; nave, 3 bays; north aisle, 3 bays; south aisle, 3 bays; north porch; west tower, 3 storeys; medieval. Limestone and ORS rubble construction; internal walls with roughcast render. Slate gable roofs; aisles and choir-recess/organ chamber with slated lean-to roofs; tower roof not seen. Medieval vaulting in tower. Medieval windows including tracery (partly rebuilt), chancel arch, aisle arcades, north door, porch door, tower openings, ?rood-loft offsets, and corbels; medieval sanctus bellcote rebuilt in 1882-3. Other openings from 1882-3 in neo-Perpendicular style, with yellow oolite dressings.

Roofs and floors: 1882-3 and 1965. Finishes: 1882 – later 20th century.

Condition – good. Some external ivy.

Archaeological potential – good. Possible earthwork platform beneath 100% of church; medium-depth external cutting around 50% of church; deep, narrow external cutting around 50% of church; suspended floors in 60% of church; below-ground heating chamber in 5% of church; burials beneath 25% of church; external memorials significantly close to 50% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – very good. 75% pre-19th century core fabric; medieval vaulting, windows including tracery (partly rebuilt), chancel arch, aisle arcades, north door, porch door, tower openings, ?rood-loft offsets, and corbels.

Group value – high. Medieval landmark church with tower, widely visible; ECM.


Phase 1 – Chancel, nave, c.1300?.

Phase 2 – West tower lower storey, C14?

Phase 3 – North and south aisles, earlier C15.

Phase 4 – North porch, choir-recess/organ chamber, later C15.

Phase 5 – West tower upper stages, early C16.

Phase 6 – Restored 1882-3, medium impact.


The present church

SS Cewydd & Peter, Steynton, is a multicelled church, of large size. It retains approximately 75% pre-19th century core fabric.

The present church consists of a 2-bayed chancel with a choir-recess or organ chamber on the north side, a 3-bayed nave, 3-bayed north and south aisles, a north porch and a 3-storeyed west tower. Construction is in limestone and Old Red Sandstone rubble. The tower is barrel-vaulted. There are medieval windows, including some tracery, in the chancel, one of which has been rebuilt; many tower openings are also medieval but some have been re-used/rebuilt; the chancel arch, aisle arcades (altered in 1882-3), the north doorway, the porch doorway, the ?rood-loft offsets, and the chancel corbels, are medieval. A medieval sanctus bellcote was rebuilt, and raised, in 1882-3. Other openings are from 1882-8, in neo-Perpendicular style, with yellow oolite dressings. Pointing is mainly from 1882-3, some of it ribboned; the interior was roughcast in the later 20th century. Roofs are slated gables; the aisles and choir-recess/organ chamber have slated lean-to roofs and the tower roof was not seen.

The chancel east wall exhibits a vertical joint towards the north end, suggesting that it may have been secondarily widened. The 3-light east window is from 1882-3 and features cusped, curvilinear tracery in a 2-centred surround with a drip-mould on Acanthus stops, in chamfered yellow oolite with contemporary infill. The window is flanked internally by a crude limestone corbel to the north and south, medieval, possible associated with a former altar-beam or statuary. There is a 2-light window in the north wall and 2 similar windows in the south wall. The north wall window was moved to the west in 1882-3 and given a new square oolite surround including a cavetto-moulded label; the 2 lights, with 2-centred heads with sunk cusps and spandrels are original, re-used early 16th century work, in chamfered yellow oolite. The 2 south wall windows are similar but entirely from the 16th century including the drip-moulds, lightly restored in 1882-3.  The west bay north wall is thrown out as a square projection or chamber, entered from the chancel through a plain, segmental arch with square stops, that to the east deeply chamfered, and entered from the north aisle through a segmental-headed doorway skewed to the south, rebuilt in 1882-3; the component is lit by an uncusped single lancet, in chamfered oolite from 1882-3, in the north wall, and has a contemporary softwood lean-to roof below chancel eaves level, but it is fundamentally medieval and appears to represent a choir-recess, as seen at a number of nearby churches including Johnston and Herbrandston, or possibly an organ chamber, doubling as a skew-passage/squint. The simple chancel arch, with plain square stops, is medieval, from c.1300; the deep offset above the west face of the arch apex may be associated with a former rood-loft, like the medieval limestone corbel at half height in the angle with the chancel south wall. Externally, a simple, gabled sanctus bellcote lies on this wall, with a plain, square, single opening; it is medieval, not closely dateable, but was entirely rebuilt, with coping, in 1882-3. The softwood, ‘wagon-roof’ ceiling is from 1882-3 on wall-plates carried on contemporary wall-corbels. The pattern-tiled floor is also from 1882-3, with marked burials beneath.

The nave side walls are both pierced by inserted arcades (see below). The west wall exhibits external joints to the aisles and tower, and features a sloping offset midway up the external face. The oak roof is from 1882-3 and features scissors-braced trusses arch-braced from contemporary, moulded wall-corbels. The passages are tiled, from 1882-3, with a below-ground heating chamber for a ‘Porritt’s’ stove or similar apparatus, and suspended board flooring.

The north and south aisles are contemporary with each other and communicate with the nave through 3-bayed arcades of plain, 2-centred arches, with square piers and stops, probably from the early 15th century; the north and south faces of the piers were cut back in 1882-3. The east bay of the southern arcade features an overhanging offset towards the south which is medieval and may have been associated with a rood-loft. The aisles were formerly gabled but were reduced in height and rebuilt with lean-to roofs in 1882-3, when each side walls was given internal brick buttresses and was pierced with 3 windows; the latter have 3 lights, similar to the chancel windows, in square surrounds with ovolo-moulded labels, all in oolite from 1882-3; the central north wall window has only 2 lights. The end walls are also pierced by windows, the north aisle east window being circular and cusped into a hexafoil, with a semicircular drip-mould on Acanthus stops, all in chamfered oolite from 1882-3, while the south aisle east window is a smaller, 2-light version of the side windows and also from 1882-3. Both west windows have 2 cusped lights with a central quatrefoil in a 2-centred surround and drip-mould on Acanthus stops, all in oolite similarly from 1882-3. The north door lies in the centre of the north wall of the north aisle and has a chamfered limestone surround with a bobbin moulded decoration, from the earlier 15th century but restored in 1882-3. The east wall of the north aisle features an internal offset at sill level which becomes vertical before sloping back to the nave near the summit, and which may represent a former nave buttress. The softwood aisle lean-to roofs are from 1882-3 and feature principal rafters with arch-braces to contemporary wall-corbels; the south aisle roof is matchboarded. The aisles are floored as the nave.

The north porch exhibits an external joint to the north aisle. It has medieval, large square quoins, a contemporary chamfered external offset and the side walls feature internal masonry benching; the upper courses of the side walls were (re)built in 1882-3. The entry is also medieval and has a chamfered, 2-centred arch with no surround. The softwood roof, from 1882-3, lacks trusses, all common rafters being scissors-braced. The plain-tiled floor is from 1882-3 and laid directly on the substrate.

The west tower has 3 storeys, predominantly in Old Red Sandstone; a square spiral stair turret projects from the west half of the north wall. The lowest storey may be earlier than the upper storeys and spiral stair turret (Caröe, 1917, 125); the latter belonging stylistically to the early 16th century; a possible 14th century date may be suggested for the former. The tower is tapered and, except the turret, exhibits the basal batter and string-course characteristic of the region. The stair turret is entered from the nave through a doorway with a 2-centred surround with a hoodmould on Acanthus stops, all in chamfered oolite from 1882-3; it is lit by simple slit-lights. The ground floor is entered from the nave through a similar doorway, also from 1882-3, inserted through the earlier blocking of a plain, 2-centred arch from the ?14th century; it is lit by a window in the west wall similar to the chancel windows but moved from the south aisle, and rebuilt, in 1882-3. The 2-centred barrel-vault may be early 16th century or earlier; it is pierced by 2 bellrope-holes. The floor has ceramic tiles from 1965. The second stage is lit by a simple, square-headed light in the north wall, from the early 16th century, and by a single cusped lancet with an oolite surround, from 1882-3, in the west wall. The belfry stage is lit by large, good-quality 2-light Perpendicular openings in all 4 faces, which are cusped, Quatre foiled and occupy 2-centred yellow oolite surrounds with dripmoulds; the western is original, the eastern and northern were partly rebuilt in 1883 but retaining some tracery, while the southern is entirely from 1883 (Caröe, 1917, 125). The openings are identical with those in the neighbouring church at Johnston, and may have been the product of the same architect. The crenellated parapet lies on a corbel table that does not continue around the stair turret; it is fundamentally from the early 16th century though restored, with rainwater chutes, in 1882-3 (Caröe, 1917, 126).

The church stands upon a possible, but slight earthwork platform. A medium-depth, brick-lined external cutting runs around the north and east sides of the church, becoming very deep, but narrow, around the south and west sides. Floors are suspended in the nave and aisles. There is a below-ground heating chamber in the nave. Burials lie beneath the chancel. Some external memorials lie significantly close to the north side of the church.

Structural development

The foundations of a smaller church, ‘containing nave only’ (Laws, 1896, 354), were apparently revealed during restoration of the church in the late 19th century (see below). No part of these foundations was followed by the present church.

The chancel arch suggests that both nave and chancel may be from c.1300, but cannot be closely dated; the chancel east wall exhibits a vertical joint towards the north end, suggesting that it may have been secondarily widened. The nave exhibits external joints to both the aisles and tower; the ground floor of the latter appears to be earlier than the upper stages and may be from the 14th century. The aisles were probably added during the earlier 15th century, a date consistent with the detail of the north door. The north porch exhibits external joints to the north aisle and, along with the choir-recess/organ chamber (cf. the choir-recesses in the neighbouring church at Johnston), may have been added during the later 15th century. The tower upper stages are from the early 16th century, when the church appears to have undergone a complete refenestration; the belfry openings are identical with those at Johnston Church, and may have been the product of the same architect. The (rebuilt) sanctus bellcote cannot be closely dated.

Glynne visited the church in 1851, and noted ‘the ordinary amount of mutilation and destruction of original windows, most of which are square-headed, with sashes’ (Glynne, 1885, 216). The chancel had been ‘much modernised’; the two east wall corbels were noted but there was also a piscina, with a slate shelf, at the east end of the south aisle, which has gone. The exterior was whitewashed, ‘except parts of the tower’ (ibid.). The church was briefly mentioned by Freeman in 1852, who noted the Perpendicular belfry openings, and the arcades which he described as ‘very rough, but not devoid of a rude majesty’ (Freeman, 1852, 171-2).

A photograph, taken from the south-east, shows the pre-restoration church to have been very different from its present form (Caröe, 1917, 124). The aisles were gabled, and similar in height to the nave. The nave and chancel roofs were low-pitched gables. Two medieval, 3 light, traceried windows survived in the south aisle, and the 2 present chancel south wall windows, but the east window was a square sash of domestic form and late 18th – early 19th century date. The chancel south windows lay either side of a square-headed doorway (18th – early 19th century?) for which there is now no structural evidence. The fabric had been somewhat neglected. A plan of the church from 1882 (NLW, SD/F/621) shows the 2 south aisle windows, 2 windows in a similar position in the north aisle, and a north aisle west window. The present chancel south wall windows are shown, and a window east of its present location in the chancel north wall (see below). The tower arch had already been blocked, as had the choir-recess/organ chamber. An internal recess (presumably not the piscina noted by Glynne – a blocked south door?) lay in the middle of the south aisle, and a small niche lay at the east end of the north aisle; both have now gone. A west gallery had been installed (ibid.), and a vestry with a screen was situated in the choir-recess/organ chamber; an organ was fitted in the 1850s (Pembs. R. O., HPR/3/5); all were removed during the restoration of the 1880s.

Restoration began in 1882 and was, in the main, complete by 1883 but minor work continued until 1893 (NLW, SD/F/621; Pembs. R. O., HPR/3/7), to the designs of the architect E. H. Lingen Barker. The aisle outer walls were lowered by 2m and the arcades raised, raising the nave roof line and creating lean-to aisles in place of the former gables (Caröe, 1917, 124). The north and south sides of the arcade piers were cut back (NLW, SD/F/621). The medieval chancel windows were rebuilt, one in the north wall being moved slightly to the west, and the tower openings were restored; one of the medieval south aisle windows was moved to the tower ground floor (NLW, SD/F/621). The north door was partly rebuilt. The aisles were refenestrated and given internal brick buttressing (ibid.), and the tower doorways were rebuilt. The sanctus bellcote was demolished and rebuilt (ibid.). The choir-recess/organ chamber arches were rebuilt (ibid.). The chancel south door was, curiously,  referred to as an ‘ancient blocked up doorway’ (ibid.). The church was reroofed, refloored, replastered and reseated (ibid.). The external buttresses added to the east wall were removed at some period after 1917, when they were said to be causing structural damage (Caröe, 1917, 127).

The tower ground floor was refloored in 1965, commemorated by a plaque. The church interior was roughcast at a similar date.

The free-standing softwood stalls with medallioned bench ends and bookboards, the similar reader’s desks, the simple softwood pews, and the oolite pulpit with Purbeck marble shafts, are from 1882-3; the organ in the south aisle, by Henry Jones & Son of South Kensington, may be contemporary. The glazed, softwood lobby around the north door is from c.1900. The plain softwood altar table is from the early 20th century, as may be the oak altar rail. The softwood altar table and rail in the north aisle are dated 1985. The chancel east wall features a panelled frieze forming a reredos, dated 1986.

The oolite font has a square bowl, a cylindrical stem and a square base, from c.1200  (Caröe, 1917, 124). A loose, circular ?font bowl lies in the north aisle, possibly the font discovered in 1882-3 (see below).

There is one bell in the tower, inscribed ‘recast by J. Warner & Sons, London, 1883’, in an 18th century frame for 3 bells (Caröe, 1917, 127).

Lying loose in the nave is an ECM with both the Latin and Ogam inscription ‘GENDILI’, from the 5th-6th century, and a later wheel-cross design (Dyfed PRN 3369). It was apparently brought form the churchyard, where, ‘it would appear, (it) has been utilised several times over (last in 1876) as a gravestone…’ (Anon., 1922, 434).

The church was Grade II* listed in 1998.

First Listed in 1993. Last amended in 1993.

 A number of finds were made during the 1882-3 restoration (Laws, 1896, 354). ‘A human skull, 3 horses skulls, and a pike-head were found under the second chancel-step… it is stated that Cromwell made a stable of this church during the Civil War’ (see Site History below). ‘In each pillar of the arcades a cavity was found, and in each cavity a human thigh bone. These were probably relics. A handsome 13th century (sic) window was found in the south wall; also a font from the same period, in four pieces, which was restored. The foundation of a smaller church, containing nave only, was found (ibid.) Also discovered were ‘two large cromlechs (sic), in the centre of the nave, about 4ft from the surface’ (ibid.), presumably representing foundation stones or possible early altars.


 There is some evidence for the pre-conquest religious use of the site:-

Celtic dedication; ECM.

SS Cewydd & Peter, Steynton, was a parish church during the post-conquest period, of the medieval Deanery of Rhos (Rees, 1932). It was granted, as the church of ‘St Kewit de Steynton’, to the Tironians at Pill Priory by one of the co-founders of that house, Adam de Rupe (Roch), in c.1200, ‘with the consent of his wife Blandina, and his heir’ (Green, 1914, 211). It was assessed at £18 in 1291, the sum payable being £1 16s (ibid.).

A chantry had been founded within the church before 1546 (Jones, 1934, 146-7; RCAHM, 1925, 391). There were formerly 2 medieval subordinate chapelries within the parish, dedicated to St Catherine and St Thomas the Martyr (ibid.); St Catherine, Milford Haven, erected in 1808, was formerly a chapel-of-ease to Steynton parish (Lewis, 1833).

At the dissolution, the advowson fell to the crown. In 1536-7 the rectory was leased by the crown, for 21 years, to John Wogan (Green, 1914, 211).

During the Civil War, the church tower is said to have been ‘garrisoned with twenty musqueteers, and some horse collected about it to cut off the communication between the Pill fort and the town of Haverfordwest’ (Fenton, 1903, 108).

In 1833 the living was a discharged vicarage, with the rectory of Johnston consolidated and in the patronage of the king (Lewis, 1833); it was endowed with the great and small tithes of a portion of the parish, the remainder being appropriated to Mrs Anne Wright whose family had sold another portion to become a part of the income of the curacy of St Mary, Haverfordwest.  The vicarage of Steynton had been united to Johnston rectory from the 17th century (Green, 1914, 212), and remained as such until 1996.

In 1998 SS Cewydd & Peter, Steynton, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage (no benefice 601) in the Archdeaconry of St Davids, Rural Deanery of Rhos (St Davids, 1997-8).

The ‘Peter’ component of the dedication appears to be secondary, and it may be significant that Pill Priory also had a joint Celtic/non-Celtic dedication, to the Blessed Virgin and St Budoc. St Cewydd was the Welsh ‘rain-saint’ (Anon., 1922, 435), presumably the reason why the church was ascribed to St Swithun in a document of 1497 (ibid.).


 Map Evidence

NLW, Parish of Steynton, Tithe Map, 1842.

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

 Church in Wales Records

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

 NLW, SD/F/621, Faculty – Restoration of church, 1882.

 NLW, SD/F/622, Faculty – Stained glass window, 1926.

 Parish Records, Pembrokeshire Record Office, Haverfordwest

HPR/3 – Steynton:-

 HPR/3/5 – Correspondence and receipts re: organ, 1853, 1873.

 HPR/3/7 – Note on restoration of church, 1883-93.

 HPR/3/24 – Vestry minutes, 1855-1921.

 HPR/3/25 – Overseers accounts with vestry minutes, 1812-14.

HPR/3/27 – Vestry minutes, 1738-1804.

HPR/3/28 – Vestry minutes, 1820-24.

HPR/3/29 – Vestry minutes, 1824-25.

HPR/3/30 – Vestry minutes, 1826-27.

HPR/3/31 – Vestry minutes, 1831-58.

HPR/3/35 – Plan and elevations of proposed ‘English’ altar, n.d..

HPR/3/36 – Select vestry accounts, 1824-31.

HPR/3/55 – Churchwarden’s accounts, 1799-1854.

 HPR/3/56 – Churchwarden’s vouchers, 1863-66.

 HPR/3/57 – Churchwarden’s vouchers, 1893-1916.

 HPR/3/61 – Letter from Bishop and E. H. Lingen Barker, Architect, re: restoration of church, 1878.

HPR/3/64 – Licence to use intended additional burial ground, 1850.

HPR/3/65 – Conveyance of piece of land to extend burial ground, 1929.

HPR/3/99 – Church restoration committee minute book, 1880-84.

HPR/3/100 – Church restoration committee letter book, 1880-84.

 HPR/3/108 – PCC minutes, 1920-74.

HPR/3/109 – PCC minutes, 1974-88.

HPR/3/110 – Leaflet appealing for restoration funds, n.d., c.1882.

HDX/1391/1 – Monumental inscriptions.

 Printed Accounts

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

Anon., 1898, ‘Haverfordwest Meeting’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XV, Fifth Series.

Anon., 1922, ‘Haverfordwest Meeting’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. LXXVII, Seventh Series.

Caröe, W. D., 1917, ‘Steynton Parish Church’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. XVII, Sixth Series.

Crossley, F. H., and Ridgway, M. H., 1956, ‘Screens, Lofts and Stalls situated in Wales and Monmouthshire: Part 8’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. CVI.

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

Freeman, E. A., 1852, ‘Architectural Antiquities of South Pembrokeshire’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. III, Second Series.

Glynne, S. R., 1885, ‘Notes on the Older Churches in the Four Welsh Dioceses’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol II, Fifth Series.

Green, F., 1914, ‘Pembrokeshire Parsons’, West Wales Historical Records Vol. IV.

Jones, E. D., 1934, ‘A Survey of South Wales Chantries, 1546’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. LXXXIX.

Laws, E., 1896, ‘Notes and Queries’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XIII, Fifth Series.

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

RCAHM, 1925, Inventory: Pembrokeshire.

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

Updated: November 2021 – PKR.

Heneb - The Trust for Welsh Archaeology