Bishopton Church of St Teilo

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are major building remains

NameBishopton Church of St Teilo
Alternative Names
Historic CountryGlamorgan
Modern AuthoritySwansea
1974 AuthorityWest Glamorgan

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.

Situated in a large rectangular churchyard which slopes down to the Bishopston Valley towards the W and is surrounded by trees.

The site is one of the earliest Christian foundations in Wales, dating back to the late C5. The church belonged to the Bishops of Llandaff from 1130 until 1920. Although hard to date, the fabric of the current church is probably late C12 or C13. A round-headed N door (now blocked) may be one of the original features. The tower is thought to have been defensive; to protect Anglo-Normans against the Welsh. Small lancets in the chancel are Early English, and a blocked priest's door may be contemporary. A Decorated lancet in the nave is a little later, whilst the arch-braced roof may be C15. Remains of a medieval churchyard cross to S of porch; a square limestone block with base of polygonal shaft containing a large square socket. The porch was added in 1851, along with a new W door. This was part of a restoration by Thomas Penrice of Kilvrough. The church furnishings were replaced by the Rev. Peter Potter in 1896, including new pulpit, lectern and pews. Many of the windows are mid-late C19 and of yellow stone. The tower parapets were probably battlemented in the C19. In 1927, a major restoration and refurnishing was undertaken by W. D

Caroe at a cost of £2,600, including new choir stalls, pulpit and altar rail, and installation of an organ by Blackett and Howden of Newcastle.

Seven-bay arch-braced roof to nave, probably C15. The shallow-pointed chancel arch is slightly asymmetrical and there is evidence of a former rood loft. Panelled roof to chancel. Short round tower arch with stone steps to L leading to W gallery with panelled front. This provides access to organ and 1st floor of tower which has 2 large spine beams. Massive square medieval font on round stem. Most of the church furnishings are early C20, of pale wood with Gothic and openwork detail. On S wall of chancel is a marble tablet with pilasters bearing an entablature with foliate decoration in relief in memory of Rev. Edward Davies (d. 1831), rector of the parish, who wrote 'Celtic Researches' and 'The Mythology and Rite of the Ancient Druids'. To the L is a piscina, now with wooden door. Two early C20 brass plaques: one to Margaret Elborough, wife of Ivor James who was the 1st registrar at the University of Wales. The 2nd is inscribed with an arcade and a cross and is to Lance Corp. Stephen Jones who died in the Boer War. To SE of nave, a memorial to Margaret Peacock (d. 1984), in form of praying hands on a free-standing post. Stained glass to E window, the Crucifixion, in memory of those who died in the Great War (1914-18) and dedicated in 1920. Other windows contain C20 stained glass, including a candle, in memory of Brian Evason (d. 1993), and in the N wall, a depiction of Iudocus, patron saint of the countryside.

Nave, chancel, S porch, W tower. Constructed of rubble stone under stone tile roofs, of no discernible style but probably C12-13. Massive square unbuttressed tower with corbel table and embattled parapets, enclosing a pyramidal roof with cupola. Narrow W doorway under pointed arch of voussoirs containing C19 studded and panelled double doors under overlight with quarries. Early round-headed lancet to S side at ground level. Narrow slits to upper level, all probably C19, except that to N which is earlier. Large clock on W wall below parapets. Long narrow nave with steeply pitched roof and splayed walls. Two raked buttresses added to N wall and one to SW angle. Gabled S porch added to L of nave, with round headed opening of voussoirs bearing a keystone with inscription 'David Jones / Rector / Thomas Edwards / David Daniels / Churchwardens, 1851 / G William, Mason'. The S doorway is round headed and contains studded and panelled double doors. R of porch, a 2-light window under 4-centred head with hoodmould ending with head-bosses, and beyond, a 3-light Tudor window, both probably mid-late C19. The N wall of the nave has a Dec. trefoil-headed lancet to the far L. A blocked round-headed N doorway is now butted by one of the buttresses, and flanked by C19 windows like that in centre of S wall. Late C20 square window opening to far R. The S side of the chancel has a blocked priest's door with 2-centred head L of centre. To its L, a small round-headed lancet, and to R, a pair of similar lancets. Three-light Perpendicular-style E window, mid-late C19, with head-bosses to hoodmould. Single lancet to N side with shallow pointed head. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceSS578893
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
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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. 154
  • Orrin, Geoffrey, 1982, A history of Bishopston (Gomer Press) p. 43-52


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