Welsh Family History Archive
Images of Wales
The Parish Church of St Samlet
Photography by John Ball - 8 January 2000
(with Sony Mavica MVC-FD91 digital camera)
The tower of St Samlet's Church is a landmark for miles around in the lower Swansea Valley. The parish of Llansamlet was well established by the end of the 17th century, but the present church building is more recent. The village, about four miles to the northeast of Swansea, prospered in the 19th century because of the nearby coal mines and iron works.
Left: St Samlet's bell tower.
Above: The approach to the church from the north-east, along Walters Road, Llansamlet.
Above: Closer views of the church, showing the east window and tower.
Above: Low winter sunshine illuminates the bell tower, standing tall
above the brambles at the southern boundary of the graveyard.
Above: The west window, south entrance, and bell tower, seen
through the leafless branches of the churchyard trees.
Above: The church viewed from the south-west, through the well-populated graveyard.
Above: To the north, beyond the rows of gravestones, are the mountains.
Between them lie Pontardawe and the upper Swansea Valley.
Above: The inscription on a gravestone, marking the death of Henry Bodycomb of the
Smiths' Arms. This old public house is just 300 metres to the south of the church.
After displaying the above photo on my website in February 2000, I was contacted by June Conway of Dartford, Kent. June is the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Bodycomb's brother George. June kindly provided this fascinating piece of family history about Henry:
Henry Bodycomb was the brother of my great-great-grandfather George Bodycomb. Their father, Robert Bodycomb, ran The Smiths' Arms for many years until his death in 1873 and then Henry took it over. Henry married Catharine Jennet Savours.
It is said that Henry was thrown from his horse one Sunday, on his way to church, and subsequently died from his injuries.
Descendants of the Bodycomb daughters ran The Smiths' Arms until it was taken over by the Welsh Brewery. My great-great-grandfather came to Dartford, and one of his daughters and several grand-daughters were sent back to Llansamlet to help Catharine run the pub following Henry's death. One by one, Catharine married them off to local men. Fortunately, my grandmother remained in Dartford, or I might not have been!