Welsh Family History Archive
Images of Wales
Old Parish Church of St David
Photography by Gerwyn Williams
of Ystradgynlais, Breconshire
The parish of Manordeifi is situated to the south of the River Teifi which marks the boundary between the counties of Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire, and from which the name Manordeifi is derived. The old parish church was built on an ancient site which has probably been occupied by a consecrated building for 1,400 years. The original building would have been constructed of wattle and rough-cast and timber. It was dedicated to St Llawddog, son of Dingad ap Nudd Hael, Prince of Usk. It is claimed that St Llawddog was a miracle worker.
After the Norman invasion, the church was dedicated to St Lawrence, but in the 12th century, when the parish of Manordeifi was formed, the church was dedicated for a third and final time, to St David.
The present building (below) has stood since the middle of the 13th century, a fine example of the old Celtic style. It is constructed of the local blue-grey stone of Cilgerran.
|Above: The church and graveyard viewed from the east.
The open bell turret is medieval, with its single bell inscribed in Latin "Sancti Laurenti Ora Pro Nobis" (St Lawrence pray for us). The bell founder is not known, but he was casting bells in the period 1450-1500. His trade-mark has also been found on bells in Cardiganshire, Glamorgan, and Montgomeryshire.
|Above: The door to the porch-like extension at the western end of the church.
To the right of the doorway is an 18th century Georgian style wooden carved monument, sheltered under a deep arch cut into the west wall. The monument is also protected by iron railings.
|Above: The nave and stone archway leading to the altar beyond.
The aisle is flagged with stone, but the closed pews on each side have wooden floors.
|Above: The chancel, altar, and east window.
The chancel is almost empty of furniture. It still retains its three-sided Laudian footpace, but the altar rails are early 19th century locally crafted replacements.
|Above: The nave viewed from near the altar.
The reading desk and wooden pulpit on the left are 18th century structures. Each side of the aisle are wooden closed pews; and at the far end is the door in the west wall.
|Above: Some of the closed box pews in the nave.
These pews were made by local craftsmen for the families who owned them, and show an attractive individuality with slight differences in design. The two pews at the east end, owned by the Pentre and Clynfiew families, are provided with private fireplaces (see example below).
Above: A fireplace in one of the private family pews.
|Above: The coracle (left) and font (right) in the porch.
The oldest feature in the church is this Norman font. It has a square bowl, decorated on the outside with quatrefoils.
The coracle, a traditional one-man craft associated with the River Teifi, is a reminder of times when the church was isolated by floods which often flowed through the building. The Teifi once ran alongside the church, but its course has altered over the years and the risk of flooding is now reduced. The church was last flooded in 1987.
|Many thanks to Gerwyn Williams for allowing me to use his fine photographs
of Manordeifi church.