St Illtyd’s Church, Oxwich

St Illtyd’s Church, Oxwich

It’s thought that this site, on a wooded coastal hillside, has been used for Christian worship since the 6th century. The building we see here today is largely medieval. The tower and its bell date from the 14th century.

The chancel and part of the nave may date from the 12th century, possibly incorporating part of an earlier structure into the chancel. There has been speculation that the chancel, which is unusually small, could be the remnant of the original Christian cell, and that the ancient font was brought here by St Illtyd himself in the 6th century. At some time, the font was incorporated into one of the church's walls. It was removed during renovation works in 1890.

Inside you can see memorials from the 13th and 14th centuries. Near the altar are two effigies made of local sand and plaster. They occupy a recess known as “Doolamur’s Hole”. According to local tradition, the armed knight and his lady represent members of the De la Mere family of Oxwich Castle who drowned in Oxwich Bay in the early 14th century.

However, some historians say the armour’s style dates the effigies to the 15th century. This would suggest that they depict Sir John Penrees (d.1410), who reinforced Llansteffan Castle during Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion, and his wife Margaret.

On each side of the porch are the tombstones of two local rectors in medieval times. One of the stones was discovered by the Victorians after it had been used as a step into the church for centuries.

At the rear of the churchyard is the grave of a Royal Navy serviceman whose identity was never discovered. His decomposed body washed ashore at Oxwich Bay in the First World War.

A well in the upper churchyard dried up long ago. It was believed to be haunted. A ghostly white horse known as a ceffyl dŵr (“water horse”) was seen in the churchyard before vanishing into the well.

With thanks to David Workman

Postcode: SA3 1ND     View Location Map

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