St Reithan's Church, Llanreithan, Pembrokeshire
Dedication: St Reithan
Only a Norman font survives in the church, which was rebuilt in 1858
[Source: The Old Parish Churches of South-West Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 1994; ISBN 1-871731-19-4]
Llanreithan church [lies] disused and abandoned in its churchyard adjoining Llanreithan House, all trace of its medieval origins were lost in Victorian restoration (1862). A foundation stone dated 1493 that was discovered during the rebuilding has subsequently vanished too and all that remains from earlier times is a cross-shaped stone set in the altar. The side door has been left open to the elements, birds and all-comers: the interior of the building is in a very dilapidated state and the damp is making rapid inroads. The churchyard is also neglected although there will shortly be a good display of daffodils.
[Source: Photographer (Ceridwen) describing a visit in February 2007; see Geograph website]
Photographs 1, 3, 4: Ceridwen
Date: 11 February 2007
Photograph 2: Anonymous
Date: 1 June 2008
Below: Llanreithan church altar had been desecrated and pages of a bible lay scattered on the ground, but the
medieval cross-shaped stone could still be seen embedded in the wall.
Right: Plan of St Reithan's Church submitted with application (below) for a grant for 'Reseating/Repairs', dated 1852-62.
JENKINS, Joseph: 1836-54 of Haverfordwest (Builder)
PENSON, Richard Kyrke: 1815-1885 of Chester (Architect)
The work included:
New flooring, new roof, new windows throughout, new chancel arch, reseating and general repairs. Jenkins drew initial plans.
Minutes: Vol 14, pp. 271, 314, Vol 16, pp. 48, 61, 68
The application was approved.
[Source: Church Plans Online (ICBS 04614)]
Update – March 2010
After being deconsecrated and lying abandoned for a while, the church was purchased for conversion into a private residence. The restoration and conversion of the building was the subject of television programme Restoration Man broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 on 28 March 2010.
[Further details on the Channel 4 website]
Right: Satellite image of St Reithan's Church and its graveyard – prior to 21st century restoration.
Historical notes (Green & Baker, 'Pembrokeshire Parsons' in West Wales Historical Records, 1912)
This benefice [Llanreithan] seems to have been at a very early date in the patronage of the Bishop of St David's. A statute of Bishop Richard de Carew states that Bishop Thomas Wallensis, who occupied the see in 1248-1256, granted to each deacon vicar choral of St David's Cathedral an annual stipend of two marks, and each subdeacon vicar choral 20s. yearly (besides the small tithes and half of the produce [proventus] of the church of Llanrheithan), and this grant was confirmed by Bishop Richard Carew. [Source: Menev]
In 1594 the living is described as a curacy, of which the vicars choral of St Davids' Cathedral were the rectors. [Source: The Description of Pembrokeshire, Henry Owen (ed), 3 vols, Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1892, 1897, 1906]
No particulars of this living are given in the Valor Eccl., but the following information is given under the heading 'Not in Charge,' in Bacons Liber Regis:- Llanrhythian arias.
Llanrheithan V. (St. Rheanus). Vicars Choral of St. Davids Patr. and Impr. £4 certified value.
Prior to Dec, 1727, the tithes of Llanrheithan and Manorowen were held on lease by Thomas Jones of Brawdy, at the annual rent of £20, and on the 1st of that month he renewed the lease at the increased rent of £29, but the Lower Chapter agreed to provide curates for the two parishes. About the year 1740 the Rev John Edwardes then subchantor of the cathedral, obtained a lease for lives of the tithes of the same two parishes and on the death of Mrs Barlow of Rosepool, Pems., one of the lives in the lease, Mr. Frands Edwardes (the son and one of the executors of Rev John Edwardes, the lessee) applied to the Lower Chapter for the insertion of a new life in the lease. This request was refused, but the Lower Chapter offered, if the old lease were surrendered, to grant him a lease for 21 years renewable during the lives of the majority of the then vicars choral, on payment of a fine of 24 guineas. This offer was deleted, and presumably the lessee continued to hold the tithes until his lease expired. The next mention of a letting occurs in 1828, when Johnny Harding Harries [of Trevacoa, Pems.] paid a fine of £180 for renewing the lease of the tithes of Llanrheithan and Manorowen. Nov., 1843, the same lessee paid £255 as a fine for renewing the lease and in 1857 a fine of £225 was paid by the same tenant for a renewal. For the last time the lease was renewed on 27 Jan 1872, by George Harries of Rickeston, Pems., eldest son of John Harding Harries, the last lessee.
The curacy of Llanrheithan was united to the vicarage of Llanrhian by an Order in council on 13 Aug 1877. On 11th May 1906 these two benefices were disunited under an Order in Council. On 26 Mar 1907, an Order in Council was obtained uniting Llanreithan with the vicarage of Llandeloy.
[Source: Cenquest website]