Oxwich Church

Bishopston Church

St. Teilo's Church

Bishopston Church, situated at the head of Bishopston Valley, is dedicated to St. Teilo, an early "archbishop" of Llandaff. According to the 'Book of Llandaff' - Liber Landavensis - the Parish of Bishopston dates back to the earliest days of the Celtic church when it took the form of a Christian monastic community. This monastic settlement, known as Llandeilo Ferwallt, would have been founded in Gower as a "daughter" church or subsidiary monastry to Teilo's major monastry at Llandeilo Fawr during the turn of the 6th century.

Bishopston Church

The present building was probably built during the 13th century from an earlier chapel. Inside the chancel is an early priscina and the 13th century font appears to have the base from an earlier period. There are also the remains of a medieval cross on the south side of the church. The massive tower has a small pyramidal roof rising within the English type battlement, housing at its foot two bells dated 1713 and 1714.

The church has been restored many times since the original Norman building, with a south porch added in 1851 by Thomas Penrice of Kilvrough, recorded as such for posterity above it's solid oak door. The east window of the chancel has a stained-glass window, which is a memorial to seven men of the parish who lost their lives to the First World War.

The church key is available from the nearby Winston Hotel. Groups should telephone (01792) 232140.

Cheriton Church

St. Cadoc's Church

Cheriton Church was once believed to have been built as a replacement for an abandoned church, dedicated also to St. Cadoc, at the nearby Landimore. The historian and former rector of Llanmadoc and Cheriton, Reverend J. D. Davies, postulated this theory, supported by a number of historical records which seemed to suggest a church once existed within the parish at Landimore, whereas later records mention the church at Cheryton.

Cheriton Church

However, the surviving episcopal registers of St. David's, which were eventually published six years after J. D. Davies' death, refer to Landimore Church in documents as late as 1513 and 1518, over two centuries after Cheriton Church was founded. This and the lack of remains and recorded folk memory of a church at Landimore seem to point towards the theory that the two churches are one and the same.

Llangennith Church

St. Cenydd's Church

Being the largest church in Gower, St. Cenydd's Church dominates the small village of Llangennith. Parts of the present church were originally built in the 12th century, but the site has been used as a religious retreat since the 6th century when St. Cennydd founded a hallowed place here. There is speculation that the Vikings pillaged the shrine and adjoining college in 986, but these were later restored by the holy man Caradoc of Rhos between 1066 and the early 1100's.

During the Norman invasion of Gower, Henry de Beaumont (Norman Lord of Gower) gave control over the sanctuary to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Taurin in France. The monks of St. Taurin established a small priory here to serve both monks and parishioners and to oversee the running of the estate.

The oldest part of the present day church is the blocked up Norman arch on the east wall of the tower, which is speculated to be the only remaining portion of the original church built in 1140. The rest of the church appears to have been built around 1300 adjoined to the original church. Once the larger church was completed the smaller building was demolished except for the arch which was used to construct one of the tower walls. It seems likely that the arch was planned as an entrance to a further extension of a side chapel to the north of the chancel - which would also explain why there are no windows on the north wall of the chancel. However, the arch was blocked up instead, maybe due to financial reasons or political unrest.

It wasn't until Henry V seized all 'alien priories' in 1414 that monastic life in Llangennith was suppressed and in 1441, St. Cennydd's Church was granted to the Warden and Fellows of All Souls' College, Oxford. By 1838 the church was granted to Thomas Penrice of Kilvrough Manor and by this time needed extensive restoration work. During the restoration, a memorial slab carved with intricate Celtic knotwork designs was dug up and removed, and later fixed to the west wall. It was thought at the time to be the gravestone of St. Cennydd but has since been identified as a portion of a 9th century Celtic wheel cross. Nevertheless, the slab is still affectionately nicknamed 'Cenny's Stone' by locals. St. Cennydd is also celebrated on a plaque on the lynch gate (the only church lynch gate on the peninsula).

The huge saddle-backed tower contains four bells, one of which is cracked and cannot be rung. During restoration work on the tower in 1888, some holes in the wall were preserved. These holes are from the 'Mabsant' or Saint Day tradition, whereby parishioners attached a decorated cock to the tower for a 3 day celebration of St. Cennydd - these holes are still visible today.

Inside the church is a carved effigy of a 13th century knight, presumed to one of the local De la Mare family and is nicknamed 'Dolly Mare'.

A key to the church is available from the nearby P.J.'s Surf Shop.

Llanddewi Church

St. David's Church

The somewhat wonky church in Llanddewi was built by Henry de Gower, 1328-1347 and was dedicated to St. David. It is said that the original builders could not agree upon the direction of true east.  The curiously positioned church can be accessed via a wide farm yard.

The oldest memorial slab to be observed here is that of Reverend Silvanus Prosser, the late vicar of Llanddewi, who died in 1737. The single bell enclosed in the saddleback roofed tower was cast in Somerset in 1781and is described as the largest and loudest in Gower.{pgslideshow id=63|height=400|delay=500|image=L}

The church was restored in 1876 and 1905 and is open from Easter until the close of October.

Llanmadoc Church

Llanmadoc Church is the smallest of the Gower churches and is dedicated, unsurprisingly, to St. Madoc. The building is of 13th century construction, although much of what is seen today of the building dates back to only 1865, when the church was renovated quite extensively.This work also involved reducing the height of its tower which can now appear quite stumpy in relation to the rest of the architecture.

llanmadocchurch

During this renovation, traces of a medieval wall painting were uncovered - one of only a few churches on the peninsula where such work, which used to decorate the walls of all these churches, have been found.

Early Gower churches did not possess north side windows. These were laid in 19th century restorations. It is interesting to note that Llanmadoc has the only church still possessing no north-side window on the whole of the peninsula.

The first items of note as you enter the dimly lit building are the two large stones that stand within the twin recesses of the left hand wall. The first of these has been identified as the village boundary stone and dated around the 13th century. The second stone is the larger of the two and is believed to be the remains of the old churchyard cross. This once stood on a raised platform with steps leading to it from all directions. Most of these churchyard crosses were destroyed by Puritans under order of Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.

Reverend J. D. Davies

The Reverend J. D. Davies was the Rector of Llanmadoc Church, along with that of nearby Cheriton from 1860 to 1911. He has become famous locally for writing what has become known as The Gower Bible - huge volumes of work depicting the local customs, history and legends of his parishes which he entitled 'A History of West Gower'. A historian's dream, the books have not been available in print for many years but a copy of each volume is available for study at Swansea Reference Library.

These marvellous books were not the only work the Rev. J. D. Davies bestowed upon his beloved peninsula. His skill as a master carpenter is evidenced in the finely carved oak altar that still stands within Llanmadoc Church and the curiously styled old rectory that lays across the road from the church grounds were both built and designed by the rector (he based his design around a house he saw during a holiday he partook in Switzerland). The Reverend, one of the more famous and loved characters in the peninsula's long history, died, aged 81 in 1911.

 

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