Pennard Church of St Mary

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry footings remains

NamePennard Church of St Mary
Alternative NamesPennard Burrows Church
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthoritySwansea
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan

Ruins of church consisting of a nave, 13m E-W by 5.0m, and chancel, 7.0m by 4.5m, mostly reduced to footings, with the W wall of the nave standing to 2.4m high. (Coflein)

Pennard was a demesne manor of the lords of Gower, and the first defensive work on the site was a ringwork of the 12th century. A small settlement with church grew up adjacent to the castle. A detached stone hall was built inside this ringwork in the 13th century, as revealed by excavations. The curtain wall and gatehouse were rebuilt in stone in the late 13th or early 14th century. The comparatively flimsy walling and light defences suggest it was built when the threat of Welsh wars had receded, while its gatehouse is a copy of substantial Edwardian gatehouses such as Caerphilly. During the 14th century the court of the lordship was occasionally held at Pennard rather than Swansea. The church conforms to the standard medieval plan of nave and square chancel, and the shape can be clearly seen under the grass, although the only standing masonry is at the west end, standing to a maximum of c.2.5m. The nave measures c. 11m by 5.5m, and the chancel c. 5.0 by 5.5m. The masonry of the west end is intact right across to a height of at least a metre, suggesting that there was no west door; there was no sign of one having been blocked. While the masonry on the inside of the building still retained its original outer face, that on the outside had been either heavily robbed or badly eroded, possibly by sand. The standing length of wall includes putlog holes. There is no fenestration. The church is thought to have been built during the thirteenth century, but by 1478 moving sand was causing damage. The settlement and church suffered the encroachment of sand dunes from the 14th century and the settlement and church were rebuilt further inland

The castle was described as 'desolate and ruinous' in 1650, although an engraving of 1741 by the Buck brothers shows most of the walls standing to their full height. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

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.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS545884
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  • Harrison, Peter, 2004, Castles of God (Woodbridge; Boydell Press) p. 82


  • Harrison, Peter, 1995, 'The tower churches of Gower' Gower Vol. 46 p. 15-23 online copy