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Llanmadoc Church of St Madoc

In the community of Llangennith, Llanmadoc and Cheriton.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Swansea.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SS43899343
Latitude 51.61801° Longitude -4.25644°

Llanmadoc Church of St Madoc has been described as a Fortified Ecclesiastical site although is doubtful that it was such.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


The church of Llanmadoc stands in a partly curvilinear churchyard, though the most markedly curvilinear side, to the N, is part of a post-1945 extension. This is an early Christian site, as evidenced by three Early Christian monuments or parts of monuments, one an inscribed slab of late 5th-early 6th century date (PRNs 32w, 33w, 34w), now housed within the church. The earliest (PRN 32w), of late 5th-6th century date, is built into the sill of the SE nave window,; the others are pillar stones dating from 7th-9th century (RCAHMW 1976, 36-7 no 844; 40 nos 865-6). (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER–ref. Evans)

he present church probably dates from the late C12, after Llanmadoc was granted by Margaret, Countess of Warwick, to the Knights Templars (1156). The round headed chancel arch suggests the C12, and when plaster was scraped off during the 1856 restoration round-headed apertures were also noted in the north wall. The tower was probably a later mediaeval addition. It was subsequently in the possession of the Knights Hospitallers then vested in the Crown at the Dissolution. The site is of great Christian antiquity: there is a stone of c. AD 500, to son of Duectus, son of guanus (or other possible readings), found when the old rectory was demolished, and two scheduled perhaps C8 inscribed pillar stones with crosses, all found locally. In 1821 the church was described as being in good repair, having recently been improved by the addition of enlarged windows. It was also repaired in 1846. When seen by Glynne in 1848 there was still a low-side-window, since lost. The south porch which he mentions was no doubt the 'modern porch' which the restorers of 1856 found in such 'bad taste' that they had to rebuild it. Glynne also refers to the tower as 'low', which suggests the restorers of 1856 may not have been guilty of arbitrarily reducing its height, as has been supposed. J D Davies, a pioneering high-churchman and skilled wood-carver became rector in 1860. He carved the oak altar frontal. In 1865 he led a major restoration for which the architect was John Pritchard of Llandaff. Much of the nave and chancel was rebuilt, the roofs were renewed, and the porch and the upper part of the tower rebuilt. All the windows were restored; except the eastern window to the south of the chancel which may be the old east window relocated. A proposed vestry north of chancel was omitted from the plans. Mediaeval painted plaster destroyed during this restoration was not recorded in detail.
Tower, nave and chancel in line with a south porch, all in sandstone, the nave and parts of the tower and chancel being original uncoursed axe-dressed work in the local conglomerate sandstone. There is a slight batter to the tower and to the foot of the north and east walls of the chancel. The C19 masonry is coursed and snecked. Slate roof with limestone ridges, coped gables, and gutter corbels. Stone finial crosses throughout. The east window and one to the south of the nave are traceried, the former with a simple label mould. The others are lancets. One mediaeval trefoil-headed lancet, in sandstone, is refixed within C19 masonry in the south of chancel; the other windows are all restored, in oolitic limestone. The outer arch of the porch is equilateral-pointed with large chamfers. The tower is unusually low, and some authorities suggest it has been restored at less than its proper height; it now has a longitudinal slate saddleback roof with crow-stepped gables to east and west and a crenellated parapet to south and north. One slit window to west, one to north. (Listed Building Report)

Towered church suggested as defensive by Harrison. Part of a group of Gower churches that Harrison suggests where fortified against the welsh but what protection such churches had was likely to be against pirate raids and it is arguable if such protection can be considered as 'defensive' or 'fortification'. It should also be noted it was standard for all churches to use martial symbols like battlements to represent God's dominion on earth and that church towers are structure which have to hold heavy, moving and vibrating bells and which need to be strongly built for this reason, particularly in places, like much of Wales, where mortar is of poor quality.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016