Ilston – St Illtyd’s Church

History

   Church of St. Illtyd in Ilston was probably built in the 12th century, perhaps on the site of an earlier hermitage from the 6th century. Its existence was first recorded in 1119. In 1221 it was handed over to the Knights Hospitaller, and when the order was dissolved during the Reformation, the patronage was given to the English Crown, and then in 1540 to a certain Thomas Penrice of Kilvrough. In the 19th century, the church was completely renovated, with a porch and a sacristy added.

Architecture

   The church was situated in a valley on a gentle slope, near a stream. Originally, it consisted only of a rectangular nave, without an externally separated presbytery. In the thirteenth century, a narrower and shorter chancel was added to the east, located asymmetrically and at an angle. A four-sided tower was also built, located in a very unusual way on the south side of the nave, also slightly tilted in plan to the east. Perhaps such a location was due to the desire to use stronger foundations, impossible to put on the opposite side. The tower received a small height, but a massive, squat form, with one small window on the south side, slit openings on the other sides and numerous putlog holes. From the east and west, it was equipped with a parapet on corbels and a battlement, while the northern and southern parts received smooth facades along the entire height.

Current state

   Today, the medieval building is enlarged by an early modern sacristy at the southern wall of the chancel and a porch at the southern entrance to the nave. The western wall of the church has a wide buttress along the entire length of the facade, probably also added in the early modern era to stabilize the building. The interior of the building was largely modernized in the 19th century.

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bibliography:
Salter M., The old parish churches of Gwent, Glamorgan & Gower, Wolverhampton 2002.

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Illtyd A Grade II Listed Building in Ilston, Swansea.
Website britainexpress.com, Ilston, St Illtyd.