Llanrhidian – St Rhidian and St Illtyd’s Church

History

   The present church in Llanrhidian was built in the thirteenth century by the Order of the Knights Chospitaller, according to tradition on the site of an earlier temple from the sixth century, founded by Saint Rhidian. Probably in the fourteenth century, the chancel and tower were added, which unusually massive structure also suggests performing defensive functions. In the mid-nineteenth century, the church was in a bad condition, which resulted in 1856-1858 in the renovation and thorough reconstruction of the nave, and then the chancel.

Architecture

   At the end of the Middle Ages, the church consisted of a wide rectangular nave and a narrower and shorter, also four-sided chancel on the eastern side. On the west side, a massive and high tower was added, crowned with a parapet on corbels and a battlement, typical of the late medieval towers of Welsh parish churches. In the south-eastern part, the tower was equipped with an projecting communication turret, and on its top there was a large stone called Parson’s Bed, which served as the base for a fire, to signal against the threat of land or sea. The southern entrance to the nave was preceded by a porch. The second porch, located in the ground floor of the tower, was vaulted and opened to the nave with an arcade.

Current state

   The original windows have been preserved in the southern and eastern walls of the chancel, while the remaining windows have been transformed during the early modern renovation. During it, the nave, porch and sacristy were also thoroughly rebuilt. In the porch adjoining the southern wall of the nave there is an interesting, carved “leper stone”. It is a rectangular limestone block about 2 meters long, carved with two human faces surrounded by strange and grotesque representations of animals. It may have been part of a Viking tomb.

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

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Parish Church of St Rhidian and St Illtyd A Grade II Listed Building in Llanrhidian, Swansea.