St Mary, Puncheston, Pembrokeshire (PRN 15265)


 Dyfed PRN 15265

 RB No. 3333

 NGR SN 0085 2973

 Not listed (1998)(2022)


19th century church; 0% pre-19th century core fabric. On site of, and in same location as, medieval church (Dyfed PRN 12570).

A 2-cell church, small. Consists of chancel/nave, 3 bays, earlier 19th century. South porch, 1895. Construction is in limestone and slate rubble. Neo-gothic. All internal walls are rendered/plastered. Slate gable roofs. Western single bellcote, earlier 19th century. All other openings are from 1895 and include the south doorway and chancel arch. The 1895 south porch is half-timbered. External buttressing, 1895.

Roofs and floors, 1895. Finishes, early 19th century-late 20th century.

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good-very good. Church entirely rebuilt in the earlier 19th century, in same location as earlier church; no structural or physical evidence for earlier church; No external cutting; shallow concrete external drain around 100% of church; no evidence for floor level changes; no underfloor void?; no crypt/vault evident; no evidence of former components beyond church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – poor. 0% pre-19th century core fabric.


Phase 1 – Chancel/nave, earlier 19th century.

Phase 2 – Restored 1895, medium impact. South porch built.


St Mary, Puncheston, is a 2-celled church, of small size. The nature of the core fabric suggests that it was (re)built in the earlier 19th century in the same location as its predecessor but retaining none of the earlier fabric. It was all regarded as ‘modern’ in 1925 RCAHM, 1925, 299).

The present church consists of a 3-bayed chancel/nave, and a later half-timbered south porch.

The chancel/nave is constructed in limestone and slate rubble throughout, of the earlier 19th century, unsquared but roughly coursed, without true quoins and of a very severe aspect, probably intentionally so and never intended to receive any render finish. There is external pointing of the 19th century, but the east, west and south walls were repointed in the later 20th century. The internal walls are rendered/plastered. The nave west wall carries a simple gabled bellcote, with a single 2-centred opening, of the earlier 19th century. The chancel/nave is roofed continuously as a slated gable and during this period, the church probably lacked a chancel arch.

The church was restored in 1895, under the architect E. V. Collier of Carmarthen (A. Gordon, 1993). The restoration was medium impact. New windows were inserted, possibly within the existing openings, and are simple neo-gothic lancets with oolite dressings  with plain 2-centred surrounds. The plain 2-centred south entry door is similar. A new chancel arch was inserted, supported by an external buttress on each of the side walls. The church was possibly refloored, without suspended flooring?. The roof timbers may date from this period. The gabled south porch was built new, with low rubble side walls supporting a half-timbered superstructure, and floor-tiled directly onto the substrate.

There is no structural or physical evidence for the earlier church. A shallow, concrete-lined external drain runs all around the church, from 1895?. There is no evidence for internal floor level changes. There may not be an underfloor void. No vault or crypt is evident.

The form of the earlier church is not known. The chancel is mentioned in a churchwardens’ presentment of 1678 and was evidently not in the best condition; ‘ye chauncell windows want glazing’, while ‘an illiterate fellow doth by himself…keep it clean’ (Evans, 1927, 396-7; Evans, 1935, 304). However, the phrasing of the presentment does not necessarily imply that the 17th century church was structurally divided into chancel and nave. The church was described as ‘not remarkable for any architectural details’ by Samuel Lewis in 1833 (Lewis, 1833).

The font is probably of 1895.

Apparently an ECM (Dyfed PRN 1288) formerly lay in the yard (Dyfed SMR).

The church was not listed in 1998. Nor in 2022.


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

Former ECM (Dyfed PRN 1288), in situ?

St Mary, Puncheston was a parish church during the post-conquest period, of the medieval Deanery of Cemais (Rees, 1933). The living was a rectory, according to differing sources either in the gift of ‘divers persons’, or appendent to the Manor of Puncheston in the Barony of Cemaes (Green, 1913, 249). Certainly, in 1326 the advowson – worth 8 marks annually – was held by the Lord of Cemaes (ibid.), who later alienated it to the warden of ‘the Chantry of St Mary, Punchardon’ to find 2 chaplains to celebrate service for the souls of his kinsmen. The Lord of the Manor Owen Jones held the advowson from c.1594-1622 (ibid.).

In 1291 the church was assessed at £6 13s 4d for tenths to the king (ibid.). As ‘Ponchereston’, its 1536 annual value was 106s 8d, in tenths 10s 8d. The rectory of ‘Poyngeston alias Puncheston alias Ponchardeston alias Castel Maul’, St Mary, had an annual value of £22 in 1786 and was rated in the king’s books at £5 6s 8d (ibid.). In 1833 the discharged rectory, of the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, was in the patronage of the incumbent, Rev. James Williams James (Lewis, 1833).

In 1998 St Mary, Puncheston, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage, held with Letterston, Llanfair Nant-y-Gof, Little Newcastle and Castlebythe (Benefice 656) in the Archdeaconry of St Davids, Rural Deanery of Dewisland and Fishguard (St Davids, 1997-8).


 Map Evidence

Rees, W., 1933, South Wales and the Border in the XIVth century.

Church in Wales Records

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

Parish Records, Pembrokeshire Record Office, Haverfordwest

(HPR/141 – Puncheston)

Printed Accounts

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

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

Evans, D. P., 1898, ‘Llandissilio Church’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XV, Fifth Series.

Evans, G. E., 1927, ‘Miscellanea’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. LXXXII, Seventh Series.

Evans, G. E., 1935, ‘Miscellanea’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XC.

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

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

RCAHM, 1925, Inventory: Pembrokeshire.

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

Updated – March 2022 – PKR

Heneb - The Trust for Welsh Archaeology