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St David's Church, Llanarthne (Llanarthney), Carmarthenshire

Denomination: Anglican

Dedication: St David (formerly St Arthen)

Built: 13-14th century
Restored: 1682, 1826

Photography: John Ball
Date: 2 September 2016
Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS digital compact

Note 1: An early nave and a 16th century south aisle were thrown into one in 1826. The west tower is 15th century. It contains a 12th century cross-slab with an inscription. [Source: The Old Parish Churches of South-West Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 1994]

Above: Milestone opposite church
St David's Church
Above: St David's Church, viewed from the southwest.

Note 2: St David's Church is medieval in origin, and is depicted as St Arthen's church on historic Ordnance survey mapping. It is situated within a curvilinear churchyard, adjacent to the Afon Gwynon. The churchyard is entered via a lychgate [see below] in its southern boundary, which borders the B4300. During the medieval period the church was a chapelry in the deanery of Stradtowy, and belonged to the Bishops of St David's as a prebend of the collegiate church at Brecon. In 1290 the prebend was appropriated to the prior of the Knights Hospitaller by Bishop Beck. A twelfth century wheel-cross, known as the 'Cross of Elmat', is built into the ground floor of the tower but is not in situ. It is thought to have been removed from nearby Cae'r Castell. Fragments of Early Christian Monument stones are thought to be built into the churchyard wall. [Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 4 September 2016)]

St David's Church
Above: St David's Church, viewed from the southeast.

Note 3: The church is a Grade II listed building, constructed of limestone and old red sandstone rubble. It consists of two-bayed chancel, three-bayed nave, south chapel, three-bayed south aisle with a three-storeyed west tower, and south boilerhouse. the plain, two-centred chancel arch is medieval in date. The nave is thought to be thirteenth-fourteenth century, as is the octagonal limestone font. The south aisle is thought to be fifteenth century. The tower is thought to date to the late fifteenth century, and its spiral stair is entered through a four-centred doorway in the west nave wall. The ground floor originally had a barrel-vault with segmental profile. The second storey has fifteenth century loops in its north, south and west walls. The belfry stage has cusped two-light openings in its north and west walls, and a single-light opening in its east. A large opening in the south wall is thought to date to 1826. The tower's parapet is crenellated and has a fifteenth century gargoyle [see below]. The chancel and south chapel date to the early sixteenth century. The building was restored in 1682, and the south chapel window may have been inserted at this time. The church was again restored in 1826, at which time the arcade was removed, the chapel arches blocked and the nave's east gable was rebuilt above eaves level. It was further restored in the late nineteenth century, at which time the brick boilerhouse was built. In 1906 a cross-incised broken stone formed the threshold of the church entrance. This is thought to possibly be represented by a stone fragment now in the chancel. [Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 4 September 2016)]

St David's Church
Above: St David's Church, viewed from the northwest.

Note 4: The present church has its origins in the 1200s, originally limewashed making a very distinctive landmark. But the village's history of worship goes back much earlier. The church houses a stone cross carved over 1000 years ago. It is inscribed, "Elmat erected this cross for his own soul". The identity of 'Elmat' has been lost but it is possible he was associated with an even earlier religious centre, a monastery or church which began in the 6th century. [Source: Information board alongside B4300 road through the village]

St David's Church
Above: Fifteenth century gargoyle on south face of tower.

St David's Church
Above: Lychhgate entrance to churchyard.

St David's ChurchSt David's Church
Above: Monument to Rebecca, died 1880 aged 15, daughter of Walter and Mary Walters of Cwmcerig.

St David's Church
Above: In Memory of William Williams, Watchmaker of Carmarthen (born 1790).

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