Penally church

button-theme-irish-welshlink_to_french_translationSt Nicholas’ and St Teilo’s Church, Penally

Penally is believed to be the birthplace of the 6th-century saint Teilo. He is sometimes described as cousin of Dewi (David), patron saint of Wales, and grandson of Ceredig, king of Ceredigion. His enthusiasm for spreading the gospel is reflected in the large number of churches dedicated to him. The town of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, is named after him. He is probably the same person as St Elidyr, dedicatee of other churches including the one in Amroth.

Painting of Penally church c.1865This church is dedicated to St Teilo and to St Nicholas, patron saint of seafarers. The picture of the church was painted by Mrs Acton Stackhouse c.1865 and is shown here courtesy of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – the National Library of Wales. 

An earlier church on this site was replaced by the current church, possibly in late Norman times. The earlier church was a parish church. 

Penally welcomed countless Celtic missionaries in the early years of Christianity in the British Isles. Pilgrims travelling from Brittany or Cornwall to Ireland would often come ashore at Penally, before crossing Pembrokeshire by land and then embarking again on the southern shores of Cardigan Bay. 

Four carved stones in the church are thought to have been here since they were carved in the early medieval period (before the Norman conquest in 1066). The Latin inscription on one appears to include an Irish personal name, Maildomnaig. 

Inside the church are two Celtic crosses, which stood outside the church for 1,000 years or more. They were moved indoors for preservation in the 21st century. Ancient interior murals were discovered, and promptly obliterated, during the church’s restoration in the 1850s. 

In 1891 the church was the first in Dyfed to be lit by electricity. Clement J Williams, who had moved from Edgbaston (Birmingham) to Penally House had installed a generator there to illuminate his home. He added the wires into the church, where 10 lights were installed. He also provided a reading room, with electric light, in the village for working men. 

One night in 1892 overheating “warming apparatus” set fire to the vestry. The Tenby Volunteer Fire Brigade was summoned, and 22 soldiers under Captain J Hutchinson dashed to the scene with the fire engine and hose from their barracks. Villagers also helped. One of them had recently bought a cargo of salt from a shipwreck. Two cartloads of the salt were thrown over the roof of the burning building. The joint effort extinguished the blaze but considerable damage was done, especially to the vestry.

Postcode: SA70 7PE    View Location Map

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