SS James and Elidyr, Stackpole Elidor, Pembrokeshire (PRN 593)


Dyfed PRN 593

 RB No. 2925

 NGR SR 9872 9730

 Listed Building No. 6020

 Grade I listed (1998)

First Listed in 1970. Last amended in 1996.

Reasons for Listing: Listed Grade I as an important mediaeval church of regional type restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott.


Medieval church; 70% medieval core fabric.

A multicell church, large, cruciform. Consists of a chancel, 2 bays; nave, 4 bays; south chapel, 1 bay; north transept, 1 bay; south transept, with skew passage, 1 bay; tower, 4 storeys, north of the north transept; medieval. South porch; vestry (north of chancel west bay), 1 bay; 1851. Boilerhouse, north of nave; coal cellar (north of vestry),  late 19th century. Limestone and Old Red Sandstone rubble construction; internal walls with render/plaster. Slate gable roofs; vestry, boilerhouse and coal cellar with slate lean-to roofs. Medieval barrel vaulting in transepts and tower, rib vaulting in chapel; medieval tower openings, skew passage openings, piscina, tomb recess. Rebuilt nave, south porch (with barrel vault) other openings, including chancel arch, are mainly from 1851, neo-gothic, with grey oolite dressings.

(Medieval effigies; 17th century monument.)

Roofs: medieval vaulting and 1851 timberwork. Floors: 1851. Finishes: 1851 – 20th century.

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good. Deep, wide revetted external cutting around 30% of church, primary, secondarily extended; shallow external drain around 70% of church; internal levels altered?; floor lowered in 10% of church; suspended floors above heating flues; internal burials beneath 15% of church; external memorials significantly close to 30% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – very good. 70% pre-19th century core fabric; medieval tower openings, vaults, arches, piscina, tomb recess.

Group value – high. Medieval landmark church with tower; ECM; large churchyard with good memorials, medieval churchyard cross-shaft and 19th century masonry building; 20th century lych-gate.


Phase 1 – Chancel, nave, C12?.

Phase 2 – Transepts and skew passage(s), (and former south porch), C14.

Phase 3 – Tower, early C15.

Phase 4 – South chapel, C16.

Phase 5 – Restored 1851, high impact; vestry built, south porch rebuilt, nave partly rebuilt.

Phase 6 – Boilerhouse and coal cellar, late 19th century.


The present church

SS James and Elidyr, Stackpole Elidor, is a multicelled church, of large size. It retains approximately    70% pre-19th century core fabric.

The present church is cruciform and consists of a 2-bayed chancel, a 4-bayed nave, a single-bayed transeptal south chapel, a single-bayed north transept, a single-bayed south transept and skew passage, a south porch, a 4-storeyed tower north of the north transept, a single-bayed vestry between the chancel and north transept, a boilerhouse between the nave and north transept, and a coal cellar north of the vestry. Construction is in limestone and Old Red Sandstone rubble; the pointing is mainly from 1851 but there is some poor 20th century repointing, and the interior is plastered. The transepts and all stages of the tower have medieval barrel-vaults, while the south chapel is rib-vaulted; the south porch barrel-vault is from 1851. All openings except in the tower, and the transept and skew passage arches, are from 1851 including the chancel arch, neo-gothic, with grey oolite dressings; there is a medieval piscina and tomb recess(es), some with effigies, and 17th century monuments. Roofs are slated gables; the vestry, boilerhouse and coal cellar have slated lean-to roofs.

The 3-light chancel east window has cusped, neo-Geometric tracery and was inserted in 1851. In the north wall is a fine, Decorated tomb recess with a crocketed and finialled surround from the 14th century; an ogee-arch moulded chest is mounted by a contemporary effigy. The large, hoodmoulded, 2-centred chancel arch is in oolite and from 1851; to the north an internal flue from the heating ducts emerges as an octagonal moulded chimney, also from 1851?. The softwood roof is from 1851 and is unusual, with windbraced, 2-centred rafters matchboarded above. The glazed (Minton?) tile floor is also from 1851.

The external nave walls were rebuilt, or at least refaced, in 1851, but the south wall retains a corbel relating either to a former rood-screen or former roof. The west wall features a low external plinth. The south door has a moulded, 2-centred surround and is entirely from 1851. There are 3 windows in the south wall, and one in the west wall, all like the chancel east window (but of 2 lights in the south wall) and from 1851; the north wall is blind. The softwood roof is from 1851 and has tie-beamed, king-post trusses; all common rafters are arch-braced and matchboarded above. The passages are tiled, above heating flues, with suspended board floors, from 1851.

The transeptal south chapel is entered through a wide, depressed semi-circular headed arch, 16th century, which truncates the skew passage from the south transept lying to the west. Lying within the arch is a tomb chest with a moulded arcade of cusped arches upon which is a female effigy, 14th – 15th century and possibly in situ?. The chapel is lit by a 2-light, ogee-headed window in the east wall which occupies an earlier embrasure and may be an 1851 copy of a 16th century original, and by a single lancet in the south wall, all from 1851. The chapel has a 2-centred, simple rib-vault, 16th century. The flagged floor includes a number of memorial slabs and is probably all early. A fine Jacobean dresser tomb, from 1613, occupies the south wall; the chapel is known as the ‘Lort Chapel’.

The north transept is entered from the nave via a plain 2-centred arch from the 14th century. It is lit by a single lancet,  from 1851 but occupying a medieval opening (with drip-mould?). The north wall has an external buttress, pre-19th century. The transept has a 2-centred barrel vault, 14th century. Floored as the nave.

The 4-storey tower adjoins the north wall of the north transept, and is entered through a 2-centred arch reflecting the profile of its vault; The tower is not typical of the region; it lacks a basal batter and string-course, is rather narrow, and the succeeding 3 stages are also vaulted. All these details may indicate an earlier date, early 15th century?. It is tapered, and a square spiral stair turret projects from the north-west corner, entered through a simple, square-headed doorway, medieval, and lit by simple slit-lights. The ground floor is lit by a 2-light window in the north wall like those in the nave and also from 1851; the boarded floor is suspended and ?raised. The second stage is lit by a simple lancet in the east wall, and there is a blocked single light in the north wall. The third stage is lit by a square-headed light in the north wall. The belfry stage has a semicircular-headed single-light window in all 4 faces, early 15th century; the contemporary crenellated parapet lies on an external corbel table.

The south transept is entered through a plain 2-centred arch reflecting the profile of its vaulting, 14th century, and is lit by a 2-light window in its south wall, like those in the nave and also from 1851. A piscina, represented by a 2-centred recess without a bowl lies in the internal face of the east wall; the ‘Decorated’ tomb recess in this wall is from 1879 but may occupy an earlier recess. To the north is the segmental-headed opening into the similarly vaulted, but altered, skew passage, 14th century. Floored as the nave.

The south porch is was entirely rebuilt, or at least refaced, in 1851 in squared and coursed Old Red Sandstone with internal masonry benching; it is vaulted as the nave, possibly rebuilt in 1851. The moulded 2-centred doorway is from 1851. Floored as the nave.

The vestry is from 1851, when it was converted from a former skew passage which opens into the chancel via a 2-centred arch with a double chamfer, and to the north transept via a segmental headed arch, both 14th century. The outer walls are from 1851 and there is a contemporary double lancet window in the east wall. The softwood lean-to roof, and the tiled floor, are also from 1851.

The boilerhouse was constructed between the nave and north transept between 1851 and 1880. It occupies a deep cutting and is entered through a segmental-headed doorway in its west wall. A brick-lined flue ascends a chase within the nave north wall. The lean-to roof rises up to the nave north wall. The coal cellar north of the vestry is contemporary, and also occupies a deep cutting with a lean-to roof up to the vestry north wall; a chute lies in the east wall.

A deep, wide revetted external cutting runs around the northern half of the church except the tower, partly primary where the church has been built into the hillside but ?deepened and extended around the vestry and coalhouse in 1851. A shallow external drain runs around the rest of the church. The interior lies at a number of levels which may have been altered; the tower floor, at least, may have been lowered. Floors are suspended above heating flues. Many known internal burials lie beneath the south chapel. External memorials lie significantly close to the east and south walls.

Structural development

The pre-1851 chancel arch was semicircular-headed and may have been 12th century; it may date the chancel or the nave. The latter, however, was largely rebuilt in 1851. The transepts and skew passages, and the former south porch, are 14th century. The tower may be early 15th century. The south chapel is 16th century and was built as a mortuary chapel.

The interior was ‘richly embellished’ in 1766 (Lewis, 1833). This work may represent the wainscoting of the ‘3 chancels’ (ie. Transepts) and new altar rails referred to in 1810 (Fenton, 1903 edn., 232n.). The windows of the time were casements, ‘not one of which opened’ in 1848  (Anon., n.d.). The pre-1851 chancel arch and east window are shown in a contemporary drawing (ibid.); the former was low and semicircular-headed, the latter a square sash window.

Two effigies present in the north transept or tower in 1810 (Fenton, 1903 edn., 233) have now disappeared.

The church was restored in 1851 to the designs of the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott (Anon., n.d.). The nave walls were largely rebuilt, the south porch rebuilt, and the vestry added. The church was refenestrated, reroofed, refloored, reseated and replastered, and the chancel arch was rebuilt. During the restoration a wall -painting was exposed, apparently occupying a ‘niche’ in the south transept and representing a cross and the shield of St George; the painting has since been lost, but did it occupy the east wall recess?.

The boilerhouse and coal cellar had been added before 1880, when they are shown on the Ordnance Survey First Edition.

The pews, vestry screen and the glazed (Minton?) tiled reredos are from 1851. The organ in the vestry is dated 1874 and the pulpit is later 19th century.

The oolite font is 20th century.

The tower contains 3 bells, from the 17th – 18th century, recast in 1971 (Anon., n.d.).

An ECM (Dyfed PRN 594) lies in the south chapel; it is a Latin-inscribed stone and is probably not in situ.

The church was Grade I listed in 1998.

First Listed in 1970. Last amended in 1996.


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

ECM; Celtic element in dedication secondary?.

SS James and Elidyr, Stackpole Elidor, was a parish church during the post-conquest period (Rees, 1932), of the medieval Deanery of Pembroke. It appears to have always been in the patronage of the Lords of the Manor of Stackpole Elidor.

The living consisted of both a sinecure rectory rated in the king’s books at £15 12s 11d, and a discharged vicarage rated at £3 18s 4d and endowed with £600 royal bounty; both were in the patronage of the Earl of Cawdor (Lewis, 1833). The offices were merged in 1814 (Anon., n.d.).

In 1998 SS James and Elidyr, Stackpole Elidor, was a parish church. The living was a rectory, held with St Petrox, St Twynnells and Bosherston (Benefice 809) in the Archdeaconry of St Davids, Rural Deanery of Castlemartin (St Davids, 1997-8).

The ‘Elidyr’ of the dedication may be equated with St Teilo, but in this case may be secondary.


 Map Evidence

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

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

NLW, Parish of Stackpole Elidor, Tithe Map, 1839.

NLW, Vol. 87, Campbell Estate Map Book 6, 1782.

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

 Church in Wales Records

Bartosch, P. M., 1991, Quinquennial Report, Stackpole Elidor.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

Unpublished Accounts

Kelland, C. H., 1983, Ecclesiae Incastellae, University of London M. Phil. Thesis.

Thomas, W. G., 1964, Stackpole Elidor Church (in National Monuments Record, Aberystwyth)

Printed Accounts

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

Anon., n.d., Stackpole Elidor Church.

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.

Updated: January 2022 – PKR.


Heneb - The Trust for Welsh Archaeology