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Church of St David

A Grade II Listed Building in Abergwili, Carmarthenshire

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Latitude: 51.8645 / 51°51'52"N

Longitude: -4.2673 / 4°16'2"W

OS Eastings: 243981

OS Northings: 220866

OS Grid: SN439208

Mapcode National: GBR DJ.SL68

Mapcode Global: VH3LH.ZDFJ

Entry Name: Church of St David

Listing Date: 22 October 2003

Last Amended: 22 October 2003

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 81928

Location: Beyond the S end of the village, in a large churchyard at the S end of Ismyrddin.

County: Carmarthenshire

Community: Abergwili

Community: Abergwili

Built-Up Area: Abergwili

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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Built in 1840-3 by Charles Nelson, architect, replacing an earlier parish church. Work by Ewan Christian, architect of London, said to have been undertaken in 1889 may refer to the altar reredos. Monuments, many of them to the Philipps family of Cwmgwili, were taken from the old church and incorporated into the new church. A memorial was erected c1846 to Bishop Richard Davies (c1501-81). Davies was one of the scholars who, in 1563, persuaded parliament to pass an Act ordering the translation of the Bible into Welsh. He subsequently translated part of the New Testament for an edition of 1567.


A large church in early C19 Gothic style, comprising broad nave and chancel under a single roof, lower N aisle under a separate roof, with N porch, and prominent NW tower and spire. Of coursed rubble with lighter freestone dressings and quoins, slate roof behind coped gables and moulded eaves cornice. The nave W window is 3 stepped lights under a continuous hood, and with a round window in the gable. The S side has 6 buttressed bays to nave and chancel, with single hooded windows. The triple E window has a continuous hood mould below a cusped round window in the gable. On the N side of the chancel is a lean-to vestry, which has a pointed boarded door in a surround with continuous chamfer, and a 2-light N window. The 4-bay N aisle has similar buttressed bays to the nave, with similar windows, except the bay at the W end, which has a porch. The porch has a tall pointed doorway, broadly chamfered and without capitals. The nave doorway has a continuous double chamfer and double boarded doors with strap hinges.

The 2-stage tower has set-back buttresses in the lower stage and single-light windows. The narrower second stage is above a freestone offset and incorporates thin attached shafts in the angles. Tall pointed triple belfry openings have louvres, above which is a corbel table. The broach spire has, in alternate faces, tall pointed openings with iron grilles.


Nave and chancel have a queen-post roof of 11 narrow bays, with half bays at the ends. The S wall has 6 blind arches, as if intended for a S aisle. The 6-bay N arcade, of which the end bays are blind, has pointed arches with 2 orders of continuous chamfer. The king-post aisle roof has 7 narrow bays with half bays at the ends, and blind arches in its N wall similar to the nave and chancel. The chancel E wall is more elaborately treated, in C13 style. It has a corbelled ledge behind the altar which is flanked by 3-bay blind arcades with cusped arches and marble shafts. The E window has a rere-arch with similar shafts, and is flanked by single blind bays. In the S wall is a cusped and hooded piscina.

The octagonal Perpendicular style font has panelled stem and underside of bowl, and quatrefoils around the bowl. Pews have simple moulded ends and stalls have similar moulded ends, some with poppy heads. The wooden polygonal pulpit stands on posts and is decorated with blind cusped arches. The communion rail has scrolled iron uprights and wooden rail. The W wall has painted wooden boards with Creed, Lord's Prayer and Decalogue.

There are numerous memorials, the earliest of which is a medieval grave slab placed by the font. In the chancel N wall is a memorial to Bishop Richard Davies, signed by Edward Davies of London, although the relief carving is said to have been undertaken by William Thomas of Merthyr Tydfil. It has a high-relief portrait over an inscription panel. In the chancel S wall is a Gothic style wall tablet by John Thomas & Son of Brecon, to Elizabeth Johnes (d 1842). Pinnacled shafts flank a cusped inscription panel. Next to it is a classical style memorial with sarcophagus surmounted by an urn, to the Rev David Davies (d 1831), by Daniel Mainwaring of Carmarthen.

In the nave S wall is a monument to John and Mary Griffith (d 1722, 1738) erected by their daughter, an inscription panel supported by a cherub and surmounted by a broken segmental pediment and coat of arms. A simple marble scroll on a polished granite background, commemorates John Ryle Morris (d 1897). Next is a sarcophagus on a slate background to George Vaughan Philipps (d 1873), by William Davies of Carmarthen. A brass cross enriched with foliage decoration is to Rev Thomas Thomas (d 1881), next to which is a simple pedimented inscription panel on a slate background, to William Morris (d 1930).

In the aisle, the W wall has a slate inscription panel to Sybill Phillipps (d 1671), with a freestone surround with relief decoration. On the N wall are 3 memorials by James Foster of Bristol, with lozenge-shaped slate backgrounds to inscription panels surmounted by urns, to Thomas Blome (d 1810), Ann Blome (d 1807) and Herbert Lloyd (d 1806). A neo-classical style mourner and urn commemorates Mary Anne Lloyd (d 1861) and family, by G. Maile of London. At the E end of the aisle is the pew of the Philipps family of Cwmgwili. The largest memorial, in the E wall, has a classical surround with Corinthian columns and open segmental pediment above cherubs, surmounted by further cherubs and coat of arms, but no longer legible. To its R is a classical tablet surmounted by a draped urn, on a slate background, to John George Philipps (d 1816), by Daniel Mainwaring. A plainer inscription tablet of a polished granite background, commemorates Sir Grismond Picton Philipps (d 1967). In the N wall is a memorial erected by Captain J G Philipps in 1854 in memory of 3 of his sons, by Evan Harries of Carmarthen, on a slate background by David James of Carmarthen. Above it is an inscription panel with urn to Frederic Philipps (d 1838), also by David James.

Several windows have stained glass. The E window shows the Life of Christ, c1879. The chancel SE window shows Christ with Simon Peter. It commemorates Captain J G Philipps of Cwmgwili, said to have been the longest-lived survivor of the Battle of the Nile. The chancel SW window depicts the Resurrection, c1847. In the nave S wall, beginning at the E end, is 'Suffer little children', Christ as the Good Shepherd, while the W window has symbols including Agnus Dei and Dove of Peace. The N aisle E window, above the Cwmgwili pew, is Christ attending the sick, in memory of Grismond Philipps (d 1850).

Reasons for Listing

Listed as an unaltered mid-C19 parish church, in a style pre-dating the ecclesiological revival, with impressive interior and good detail including a fine collection of wall tablets.

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