Llangenydd Church of St Cenydd

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are major building remains

NameLlangenydd Church of St Cenydd
Alternative Names
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthoritySwansea
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan
CommunityLlangennith, Llanmadoc and Cheriton

Llangennith is a pre-Norman site; an Early Christian monument (PRN 59w), probably part of the shaft of a 9th century cross, is preserved in the church (RCAHMW 1976, 46 no 905). It appears to have been the site of a clas church, and was granted to Evreux in Normandy early in the 12th century, confiscated by the Crown in 1414, and granted to All Souls' College, Oxford, in 1442, but always seems to have remained very small (Williams 1949). The position of the monastic buildings has not been established; it is probable that they were to the south where the adjoining property still retains the name of College Farm/House, and were connected to the church by the blocked S door, although Orrin (1979, 42) suggests that the blocked archway in the E wall of the tower marks the point at which it was connected to a cloister. Merrick (ed James 1983, 118) recorded in 1578 that it was jointly dedicated to Our Lady and St Cennydd. The churchyard is partly curvilinear, and the churchyard cross does not survive. There is also a well (PRN 2259w) adjacent to the church (Jones 1954, 184). (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER–ref. Evans)

A C12 church dedicated to St Cenydd, reputedly at his burial place. The circular form of the churchyard implies a church site of very early origins. An early church here is thought to have been destroyed by Danes in AD986. A monumental stone with Celtic interlace pattern found in the chancel is now displayed in the vestry. Early in the C12 Llangennith church together with some land was granted by Henry de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, to the Benedictine abbey of St Taurin, Evreux, as part of the process of establishing a cell of the abbey at Llangennith. This part of the village is known as 'Priorstown'. The abbey probably also rebuilt the church. The church and the cell, since called a college, were distinct, there being both a prior and an incumbent. The college was suppressed in 1414

The church was later granted to All Souls College, Oxford, under whom it remained until bought by Major Penrice in 1838. His nephew donated it to the parish in 1883. The north tower was added to the C12 church. The tower incorporates a round-headed archway facing east, the purpose of which is obscure, but it has original C13 pointed lancet windows and opens to the nave by a pointed doorway. The chancel east window is C14 Decorated. The chancel arch is pointed and has deep chamfers below the imposts, but may be a C19 rebuild of the original arch. The main restoration of the church was to the design of John B Fowler in 1881-4, the contractors being Messrs Rosser of Reynoldston. The tower was repaired, the nave floor was raised about 1.2 metres, monuments were repositioned, new windows inserted and the roofs rebuilt.

A large church by Gower standards, with nave, chancel and north porch; the dominant feature is the tower to the north side. Attached farm buildings extend to the south-west. The masonry is local reddish or grey axe-dressed or rubble sandstone, roughly coursed in places, with a slight batter to the south of the chancel. On the north side of the nave and chancel there are traces of old render or whitewash. The roofs are of slate with exposed nave rafter ends and tile ridges. C19 coped gables to the porch and to the east and west of the nave, all with stone finials. The east gable of the chancel has a verge overhang. The east window is of three cusped lights, in Decorated style, with a relieving arch in the masonry above the reticulated tracery plus blind mouchettes. All the other windows of the nave and chancel are pointed lancets in pairs, the pair to the south east of the chancel having trefoil heads. The porch doorway is a plain equilateral pointed arch with a small glazed light above. The tower is of three main storeys with a longitudinal slated saddleback roof and C19 coped gables to east and west. To north and south the tower has battlemented parapets on billet corbels. At the top of the west gable are two flagpole corbels, and in the apex of each gable is a modern ventilation slit. The other openings are C19 restored (at belfry level), otherwise mediaeval. The belfry has a small lancet opening to three sides. The middle storey has narrow windows on three sides, that to the west incorporating a mid-height widening in each side in the manner of a loophole (re-opened in the 1882 restoration). In the ground storey there is a narrow window to the north, and a small window in the blocking masonry of a former round-headed archway to the east. (Listed Building Report)

Towered church suggested as defensive by Harrison. Part of a group of Gower churches that Harrison suggests where fortified against the welsh but what protection such churches had was likely to be against pirate raids and it is arguable if such protection can be considered as 'defensive' or 'fortification'. It should also be noted it was standard for all churches to use martial symbols like battlements to represent God's dominion on earth and that church towers are structure which have to hold heavy, moving and vibrating bells and which need to be strongly built for this reason, particularly in places, like much of Wales, where mortar is of poor quality.

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS428914
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  • Harrison, Peter, 2004, Castles of God (Woodbridge; Boydell Press) p. 82
  • Newman, J., 1995, Buildings of Wales: Glamorgan (Yale University Press) p. 384
  • Orrin, G., 1979, The Gower Churches (Rural Deanery Of West Gower) p. 40-43
  • Davies, J.D., 1885, A History of West Gower, Glamorganshire (Swansea Vol.


  • Harrison, Peter, 1995, 'The tower churches of Gower' Gower Vol. 46 p. 15-23 online copy
  • Glynne, 1897, 'Notes on the older churches in the four Welsh Dioceses (continued)' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 52 p. 299-300 online copy


  • Edith Evans, 2003-04, Early-Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites Project (Yr4) GGAT 73