A Guide to Amroth Parish Church
Canon Michael Butler. A.D.
a small coastal village in the south east corner of
Pembrokeshire. The older industries of mining, farming and
fishing have now been mainly overtaken by holiday
activities. The name ‘Amroth’ has several possible origins,
one of these being perhaps ‘Lanrath’ meaning ‘the
(church)lands around a fort’. The change in the centre of
gravity of the village due to the coastal development in the
last century, now means that the Church lies on the northern
boundary of the Parish nearly a mile from the main part of
There is evidence that there had been two
Churches in the Parish from early times. Irish missionaries
coming to Pembrokeshire in the 4th century would have
founded a very crude cell in the shelter of the rath or
fort. By the 9th century there were two Churches at opposite
ends of the Parish, the eastern one being a small building
some 200 yards from the site of the present building.
dedication to St Elidyr is obscure. There are three other
Churches in the locality with this dedication. They are at
Crunwere, Ludchurch and Stackpole Elidyr. One possibility is
that they were dedicated by St Elidur de Stackpole, the
processional cross bearer when Archbishop Baldwin led his
crusade through Wales at the end of the 12th century. In the
‘Lives of British Saints’ the authors suggest the dedication
may be to a 12th century pilgrim, ‘Elidyr the Courteous’. Or
it could just be that a scribe’s error for the Welsh Saint
‘Teilo’ who was also known as ‘Eluid‘ may have mistakenly
given us ‘Elidyr’.
The present Church is of 13th century
Early English architectural style, the older parts being
built in 1490 by John Elliot, the then builder and owner of
Amroth Castle. This replaced the earlier smaller eastern and
western Churches of the Parish with a single larger
In its original design the Church was cruciform
in shape, with conventional Chancel, Nave and two transepts.
The crenellated tower above the north transept has a spiral
staircase in the northwest corner. In the early 16th century
John Elliot added a chantry chapel to the north of the
chancel. His successors at Amroth Castle, the Biddulph
family, gave the chapel to the Church in 1889, and also
added a vestry to the north wall of the chapel.
The Church was extended westwards in the middle of the 19th
century, a new south door being added to replace the
original door in the south transept. A porch with stone
bench seats was added at the same time as the building of
There are several memorial tablets in the
chapel and chancel. These are mostly in memory of local
gentry, but three of those on the south wall must surely be
unique. Two were erected by a lady to her first three
husbands, whilst the third was erected by her fourth and
surviving husband! The chapel contains on its north wall
memorial tablets to the Biddulph family, whilst on the west
wall of the north transept there is the Parish War Memorial
The stained glass in the east window of the
chancel is a depiction of the Crucifixion and was installed
in 1890. In the south transept another window of the same
era shows Christ walking on the sea, and bears the
inscription ‘It is I, be not afraid’. In the west wall of
the nave a modern stained glass window is dedicated to the
memory of a local farmer who was tragically killed in a
vehicle accident at Llanteg. The font, which is the same age
as the Church, is Norman in style, having a square bowl
decorated with sculptured foliage in relief, and set on a
square stem, the plinth being formed on an inverted font
basin from one of the earlier Churches. The font cover is
dated late 19th century, given by a previous Vicar in memory
of his infant son.
A local iron foundry cast three small
bells which were hung in the belfry of the tower in 1712. In
1929 the owner of Colby Lodge paid for these bells to be
recast by the Whitechapel Foundry of London into a new
single large bell, and to be re-hung in the tower along with
a new tenor bell. The bells can be tolled from the north
The remains of the old preaching cross in the
churchyard were previously on the north side of the Church,
but have been moved to a new position south of the nave.
This cross predates the Church and is probably 9th century
in origin. It is set on three large stone steps, and it is
likely that it lost its carved head at the time of the
reformation in the 16th century when Cromwell ordered the
destruction of all such fixtures.
The churchyard also has many old tombstones, the earliest of
these being dated 1762. There are a few iron gravestones
which were cast by the same local iron foundry as the three
original Church bells. There is a mounting block and several
stone stiles in the walls. The former for use of those who
came to Church on horseback, and the latter to stop roaming
animals entering the churchyard!
The church registers date from 1754, 1759 and 1786 for
Marriages, Baptisms and Deaths respectively. These have been
carefully photocopied, and the originals archived.
following list of incumbents is necessarily incomplete, but
gives a clear indication of the continuity of Christian
worship on this site for the last 700 years:-
1332.Philip de Crickhowell
1847.Richard Lewis, M.A.
1851.William Davies Philips
1886.Thomas David, B.A.
1891.James Evans Jones, B.A.
1905.William Francis Davies, B.A.
1935.Edward Owen Jones
1955.George Luther Rogers Davies, M.A.
1979.Glyn Evans, B.A.
We hope you will enjoy your visit to this beautiful and
particularly peaceful rural church. If you visit then before
leaving please spend a few moments adding your own prayers
of praise and thanksgiving to the prayers of those who
worship and minister here. Thank you.
Butler. A.D. Nov.2003.
Amroth Parish Register Images
Amroth 1851 Census Index
Amroth Family History
& District Community Association
THOMAS Family of Amroth, Pembrokeshire
& Pembrey, Carmarthenshire
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