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Church of St Nicholas

A Grade II* Listed Building in Penally, Pembrokeshire

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Latitude: 51.6598 / 51°39'35"N

Longitude: -4.7228 / 4°43'22"W

OS Eastings: 211772

OS Northings: 199177

OS Grid: SS117991

Mapcode National: GBR GD.SJ6W

Mapcode Global: VH2PS.3J3Z

Plus Code: 9C3QM75G+WV

Entry Name: Church of St Nicholas

Listing Date: 14 May 1970

Last Amended: 26 April 1996

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 5992

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In the centre of the village of Penally. The churchyard is enclosed within a rubble masonry wall with simple iron gates.

County: Pembrokeshire

Community: Penally (Penalun)

Community: Penally

Locality: Penally Village

Built-Up Area: Penally

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire

Tagged with: Church building

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Penally is an ancient church site. Carved crosses of the C10 and C11, which until recently stood in the churchyard, are displayed in the S transept. The present church was built in the C13 and a porch was added in the C14. The tower is said to date from the C15 or C16, as it has Tudor label-moulds over the belfry lights; but these only date the topmost third of the tower, and there is evidence to suggest that the tower was raised in height at this time. In 1301 the advowson was granted to Aconbury Priory in Herefordshire.

There was formerly a chancel screen 'of elegant workmanship' which is mantioned by Fenton, but it did not survive the C19 restorations. In the first of these a gallery for 60 additional seats was installed at the W end. This was also later removed. A most thorough restoration of Penally Church was carried out in 1851 under the direction of David Brandon, architect, of Bloomsbury. The present windows all date from this time.

Almost the entire interior had been covered in C13 paintings and inscriptions, but because of the accretion of later whitewash they were not noticed until most of the plaster had been stripped off by the restorers. The discovery of the paintings was made by Mrs Gwynne who cheerfully describes the disaster in Allen's Guide to Tenby. She and some friends uncovered a few last fragments, which she describes, but these also are now lost.

In 1877 the tower was restored. This date is scratched in the mortar in several places. A further internal and external refurbishment was carried out in 1884. The stained glass throughout the nave dates from this period. In 1891 the Church was the first in Pembrokeshire to be lit by electricity.


Nave with W tower, transepts and chancel. Random rubble masonry in a mixture of sandstone and limestone. There are some traces of render on the exterior of the nave and N transept. The dressings and tracery of the windows inserted in the C19 restoration are in oolitic limestone. Slate roof with gable copings on kneelers. Cross finial at the E end.

The tower is vaulted in two stages. There is no stair turret, as access is gained internally by means of a ladder. The parapet projects on corbels on all faces, and the crenellated top part of the parapet projects further. This top part is depicted on a drawing of 1827. There are single belfry lights to E and W, double to N and S, all but one having Tudor label moulds. At about two-thirds of the height of the tower the character of the masonry changes.

Two small paired lancets in the S wall of the chancel and one in the E wall of each transept. A square opening at the centre of the N wall of the nave, at high level. All these openings are blocked and none are visible internally. Large stones which might be of archaeological interest are built into the N transept walls.

The Penally Cross is Ancient Monument no. Pe 142.


Vaulted chancel with oak altar table and encaustic tile floor. The vault is pointed and slightly off-centre. The stained glass of the E window is of c.1851. The large pointed chancel arch is also of the C19.

Nave with encaustic tile floor. Memorials of the C19 and C20. Stained glass of 1884, some in poor condition.

The N transept is slightly smaller than the S transept, and not quite in line. Set into the E wall of the latter is the late-C13 tomb of William and Isamay de Naunton, consisting of a limestone slab. Only the faces are sculpted. They are in alabaster and set into the slab. The tomb is clearly not original to the transept, as it does not fit well in its recess and it blocks an opening. From each transept a large squint gives visibility to the altar.

In the S transept are two crosses: the Penally Cross, richly carved on both faces, with a wheel-head, and also a large fragment of another cross the rich decoration of which includes 'gripping beasts'. A lost inscribed stone which may have belonged to the latter is recorded; it disappeared in 1851 when displayed in Tenby.

Norman font with C19 re-dressing marks: four scallops each side, short column with round moulding at top, and a small square base.

Reasons for Listing

Listed Grade II* as a mediaeval church with vaulted interiors, fine tower and important richly carved crosses.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Ruins in Grounds of Penally Court
    30 m NW of Penally Court Farmhouse, and adjacent to the main street of the village.
  • II Michaelmas Cottage
    40 m W of Penally Church, built into a steep bank at the W edge of the churchyard.
  • II Giltar Lodge
    75 m S of Penally Church, on a corner site. There is a railed area either side of the entrance and along the W side.
  • II The Cottage
    100 m NW of Penally Church.
  • II Cross Inn
    Facing a minor street 100 m SW of Penally Church. At the front is a small terrace with a stone wall, reached from the road by a short flight of steps.
  • II Jubilee Fountain
    At the point where the road from the Ridgeway meets the main street of Penally, 100 m S of the Church.
  • II Abbey Hotel
    150 m N of Penally Church. The house stands in extensive grounds. There is a terrace along the garden front with a crenellated wall. Behind the house is a stable building now converted to guest accom
  • II Ruins in Grounds of Abbey Hotel
    In the grounds of the Abbey Hotel, 50 m N of the house, and close to St Deiniol's Well.

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