The church in Camrose was first mentioned in written sources in 1291 in Taxatio Ecclesiastica, a list of church property created for tax purposes. In the fourteenth or fifteenth century it was rebuilt and enlarged by side chapels and a tower. Early modern renovations were carried out in 1877-1883 and in 1883-1884. During this time, the tower’s battlement was reconstructed, and the nave windows and the northern portal were replaced. The oak roof truss also did not avoid replacing. In 2000, the church was affected by fire, after which it was renovated a year later.
The church was built as an exceptionally long building consisting of a four-bay nave on a rectangular plan (19.8 x 6.3 meters), a three-bay chancel (8.9 x 5.2 meters) closed from the east by a straight wall and a two-storey tower on the west side. On the southern and northern sides, originally there were yet transept chapels, built in the 14th or 15th century.
In the northern corner of the tower in the 16th century a massive staircase was placed, and the whole was topped with a parapet and battlement on protruding corbels. A channel ended with a 15th-century gargoyle served for the outflow of rainwater. Originally, the lighting of the church was provided by narrow lancet windows, with the northern wall of the chancel as the only one without any openings.
Inside the chancel, a 14th-century piscina with a ogee arch top was placed, while in a fragment of the wall at the chancel arch was put an early medieval stone. The rainbow arcade itself was topped with a sharp pointed arch. The interior of the nave and chancel was covered with an open roof truss, while the room in the ground floor of the tower was vaulted. To the nave it was opened with a pointed arcade.
The church, despite the Victorian renovation, which replaced a large part of the medieval windows and the northern portal, and despite the recent fire (it mainly destroyed the 19th-century roof truss), is today a good example of a medium-sized late-medieval sacral building, typical for the south-west part of Wales (Pembrokeshire). Inside, the 12th-century baptismal font has been preserved.
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 britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Ishmael A Grade II* Listed Building in Camrose, Pembrokeshire.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Ismael’s Church, Camrose.