The church at Begelly was erected in the 13th century, initially dedicated to Saint Bugail, which in Celtic means “shepherd” and was probably honoring of a founder or Christ. Presumably still in the Middle Ages church was expanded and enlarged. In 1886 it was supposed to be in a very bad condition, so it underwent a thorough restoration, during which the roofs were repaired and the damaged door and window portals were reconstructed.
The church had a long, rectangular nave measuring 11.4 x 4.4 meters and a shorter chancel, 6.1 x 4.4 meters, ended with a straight wall on the eastern side. The west side was occupied by a battlemented tower on a quadrilateral plan, 6.2 x 5.7 meters, 21.5 meters high. Its interior was divided into three floors, connected by a turret with a staircase with 105 stairs, located in the north-eastern corner. From the south, two annexes were added to the church, one originally serving as a porch, and the other a 2.7 x 2.6 meters chapel. On the north side, at the chancel and partially the nave, an aisle was added on a rectangular plan, 11.1 meters long and 4.3 meters wide. It was opened to the nave with one arcade, and to the chancel with two arcades. The arch separating the chancel from the nave had a large height and a pointed end, and to the west of it there are two corbels, originally supporting the two-story rood screen. There are also five consoles on the south wall that previously supported the wooden roof truss. Only the space under the tower was covered with a vault. It opened onto the nave with a pointed arcade.
The preserved to this day church, apart from the tower, has undergone a thorough Victorian renovation, so now it has largely medieval walls, but most of the architectural details have been replaced or renovated. A dozen or so carved stones, probably from the 15th century (dismantled tracery, stones with six-petal flower motifs) have been placed on shelves in the church.
Salter M., The old parish churches of South-West Wales, Malvern 2003.
The Royal Commission on The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions in Wales and Monmouthshire. An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, VII County of Pembroke, London 1925.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Mary’s church, Begelly.
Website stmaryschurchbegelly.org.uk, History.