St Llawddog, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire (PRN 1178)


Dyfed PRN 1178

 RB No. 3239

 NGR SM 1906 4307

 Listed Building No. 11972

 Grade II* listed (1998)(2022)

First listed in 1952. Last amended in 1994.

Reasons for listing. No reasons given.


Medieval church; 20% pre-19th century core fabric.

A 5-cell church, large sized. Consists of west tower, 3 storeys, medieval. Chancel, 2 bays; nave, 3 bays; south transept, 1 bay; south aisle, 2 bays; all 1853-5. Vestry (north, transeptal), 1 bay; organ chamber (south), 1 bay; 1865. External heating chamber, 1930. Construction is in slate rubble. Internal walls rendered/plastered. Slated gable roofs; organ chamber roof is a slated lean-to; west tower roof not seen. Medieval tower with medieval vault, spiral stair turret, openings, corbel table and crenellations. All other openings and detail, 1853-5 and 1865, including the chancel arch, the south aisle arcade and transept arch, windows, doors and external buttressing.

Roofs, floors and finishes: 1853-5 and 1865.

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good-very good. Church largely rebuilt 1839 and 1853-5; external cutting around 40% of church, with drain; no evidence for floor level changes; suspended floors and underfloor void; external heating chamber beyond 20% of church; no internal crypt/vault evident; no evidence for former components beyond church; memorials significantly close to 60% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – fair. Largely rebuilt in 1839 and 1853-5, 20% medieval core fabric; medieval tower with vault, stair turret, openings, and parapet.

Group value – high. Landmark church with medieval tower, in hilltop location; on edge of medieval borough with castle; large churchyard with Scheduled ECM (SAM Pe 144), good memorials, and cist burials.


Phase 1 – West tower, c.1500.

(Phase 2 – Rebuilt 1839, except west tower, gone.)

Phase 3 – Chancel, nave, south transept, south aisle, (re)built 1853-5.

Phase 4 – Vestry, organ chamber, 1865.

Phase 5 – Heating chamber, 1930.


St Llawddog, Cilgerran, is a 5-celled church, of large size. It retains approximately 20% pre-19th century core fabric, confined to the west tower.

The present church consists of a 2-bayed chancel, a 3-bayed nave, a single bayed organ chamber south of the chancel west bay, a single bayed transeptal vestry north of the chancel west bay, a single bayed south transept, a 2-bayed south aisle and a 3-storey west tower which includes the church entrance. There is also an attached, below-ground heating chamber between the south aisle west wall and the tower south wall. Construction is in good quality, medium-large slate rubble, roughly squared and coursed; good mortar pointing, mainly from 1853-5; rendered/plastered within, also mainly 1853-5. Roofs are mainly slated gables, the nave always roofed at a higher level; the organ chamber roof is a slated lean-to, and the heating chamber has a flat roof. The west tower roof was not seen.

A deep external earth-cut cutting runs along the south walls, containing a drain. There is no evidence for floor level changes. Suspended floors are present, with an underfloor void. There is an external below-ground heating chamber between the aisle and tower, from 1930; no internal crypt/vault is evident. There is no evidence for any former components beyond those present. Some memorials lie significantly close to the west, east and south walls.

The west tower was constructed c.1500, and includes  the main west doorway into the church; it is stylistically characteristic of the region. The remainder of the church was entirely rebuilt, twice, in 1839 and in 1853-5.

Little can now be reconstructed of the form of the rest of the pre-19th century church, but it may be that the present structure has closely followed its plan. Richard Fenton visited Cilgerran c.1811 (Fenton, 1903, 276). He described the church as forming ‘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 fragment of carved oak rood screen, a rare survivor of the Reformation in Pembrokeshire (but cf. St Brides). The fragment was ‘beautiful… of the same character, and most probably of the same age, as that most perfect specimen’ at Patricio, Brecs. (ibid.). The church was evidently substantial and of good quality, being described in 1833 as ‘an ancient structure, in the early style of English architecture, and in tolerably good repair’ (Lewis, 1833). The tithe map of 1838 shows a cruciform church which is probably only a stylistic representation (NLW, Cilgerran, 1838).

The church was (re)built in 1839 under the local arcitect Daniel Evans (Cadw, 1994, 3). The sources suggest that the rebuild was total, excluding the tower (RCAHM, 1925, 69). This church was in turn ‘levelled to the ground…for reasons of safety’ in 1853 (ibid.) and rebuilt, apparently on the same foundations as its predecessor (Anon., 1856, 72), under the architect Benjamin Ferrey, of London, between 1853 and 1855 (Cadw, 1994, 3). The vestry and organ chamber, in identical style, were added in 1865 (ibid.).

The 3-storeyed west tower is from c.1500. It is fairly typical of the region and is tapered throughout. The fabric is well squared and coursed slate rubble. A square spiral stair turret projects from the north-east corner and retains its slit-lights unaltered. The ground floor is vaulted with a 2-centred barrel-vault of c.1500 and is floored as the nave (see below). It is entered from the exterior through a 2-centred west door rebuilt, with a moulded oolite surround, in 1853-5. The remainder of the openings are from c.1500, and include single cusped lights in the second stage, and a single, 2-light louvered opening into the belfry, with a cinquefoil pierced spandrel; the oolite surrounds are original. The crenellated parapet lies on a corbel table typical of the region; the crenellations were renewed in 1853-5 (RCAHM, 1925, 69).

All detail in the remainder of the church is, like the core fabric, from 1853-5 and 1865 and neo-Decorated in style. The 3-light chancel east window is traceried, in a 2-centred oolite surround. There are similar 2-light windows with pierced spandrels in the remainder of the church. The exterior of the 1853-65 fabric exhibits stepped and coped buttresses throughout. The 2-centred chancel arch is of simply moulded oolite, without capitals; the organ chamber arch, and vestry door, have similar profiles. The softwood roof is from 1853-65 as is the tile floor.

The nave is divided from the south aisle by a 3-bayed arcade of 2-centred arches on octagonal piers, with moulded slate capitals. A simpler arch, like the chancel arch, leads from the aisle into the south transept. The west door into the tower has a 2-centred surround. The softwood roofs of the nave, aisle and transept are from 1853-5, as are the softwood seating, suspended floor and tiled passages.

There has been some further work. The reredos was erected in 1877 (NLW, SD/F/112) when the chancel was refloored, both undertaken by Benjamin Ferrey (Cadw, 1994, 3), The plain oak retable was installed in 1879 (NLW, SD/F/113). A large heating chamber lies externally, between the west wall of the south aisle and the tower south wall. It was built in 1930 (NLW, SD/F/116), mainly below ground, but with low slate rubble walls and a flat roof above ground level; it is reached by a (largely internal) flight of steps.

The font is from 1853-5, and an imitation of that in St Mary Magdalene, Oxford (Glynne, 1898, 357).

The church was Grade II* listed in 1998 and 2022.

First listed in 1952. Last amended in 1994.

Reasons for listing. No reasons given.

An ECM, the ‘Trenagussus Stone’ (Dyfed PRN 1179; SAM Pe144), stands in the churchyard. It is an inscribed stone, with Latin and Ogam characters, and there is a faint incised cross (RCAHM, 1925, 69).

13th century coins were found in a cist grave within the yard in 1853-5-6 (Anon., 1859, 350).


There is good evidence for the pre-conquest religious use of the site –

Celtic dedication; ECM.

St Llawddog, Cilgerran, was a parish church in the post-conquest period (Rees, 1932), of the medieval Deanery of Emlyn. The living was a rectory which appears to have been in the patronage of the Earls of Pembroke (Green, 1911, 272). In 1291 it was assessed, as the church of ‘Elygarthen’ at £4 for tenths to the king (ibid.). The 1536 valuation was £9 (ibid.).

With the Act of Union and the abolition of the Earldom of Pembroke, the advowson fell to King Henry VIII, and remained in royal patronage. In 1786, the discharged rectory of ‘Kilgarran alias Culgerran alias Cylgerddan’, of the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, had an annual value of £38 (£50), and was rated in the king’s books at £9 (ibid.). The situation was unchanged in 1833 (Lewis, 1833).

In 1998 St Llawddog, Cilgerran, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage held with Bridell and Llantwyd (Benefice 644) in the Archdeaconry of St Davids, Rural Deanery of Cemais and Sub-Aeron (St Davids, 1997-8).

The cult of St Llawddog appears to have been the dominant cult in Cantref Emlyn during the later medieval period, with 3 more dedications (Yates, 1973, 67).


 Map Evidence

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, First Edition, Sheet III.13, 1890.

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, First Edition, Sheet VII.1, 1890.

NLW, Parish of Cilgerran, Tithe Map, 1838.

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

Church in Wales Records

Bartosch & Stokes, 1987, Quinquennial Report, Cilgerran.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

NLW, SD/F/112 – Faculty, erection of reredos, 1877.

NLW, SD/F/113 – Faculty, erection of retable, 1879.

NLW, SD/F/114 – Faculty, installation of electric light and small brass tablet, 1926.

NLW, SD/F/115 – Faculty, memorial tablet, 1929.

NLW, SD/F/116 – Faculty, installation of heating apparatus, 1930.

Parish Records, Pembrokeshire Record Office, Haverfordwest

(HPR/115 – Cilgerran)

Printed Accounts

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

Anon., 1856, ‘Miscellaneous Notices’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. II, Third Series.

Anon., 1859, ‘Cardigan Meeting’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XX, Third Series.

Cadw, 1994, Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Cilgerran).

Crossley, F. H., and Ridgway, M. H., 1957, ‘Screens, Lofts and Stalls situated in Wales and Monmouthshire: Part 8’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. CVI.

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

Glynne, S. R., 1898, ‘Notes on the Older Churches in the Four Welsh Dioceses’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XV, Fifth Series.

Green, F., 1911, ‘Pembrokeshire Parsons’, West Wales Historical Records Vol. I.

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

RCAHM, 1925, Inventory: Pembrokeshire.

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

Soulsby, I., 1983, The Towns of Medieval Wales.

Westwood, J. O., 1855, ‘Early Inscribed Stones’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. I, Third Series.

Yates, W. N., 1973, ‘The Age of the Saints in Carmarthenshire’, The Carmarthenshire Antiquary Vol. IX.

Updated – March 2022 – PKR

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