The first temple was built in Penally in the days of Saint Teilo, a missionary of the sixth century. Penally was than a stopover place for pilgrims traveling from Brittany and Cornwall to Ireland. Instead of taking a long sea trip around the westernmost point of Wales, the pilgrims set out from Penally on foot to Cardigan Bay, from where they could once again take a boat to cross the Irish Sea. For this reason, the original Celtic church was replaced in the 13th century by a new, larger building. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it was additionally expanded with a porch and a tower. In the nineteenth century, during the renovation, medieval wall paintings were discovered.
The medieval church consisted of a rectangular nave of dimensions of 12.3 x 4.9 meters, a rectangular chancel on the eastern side, measuring 6.4 x 3.5 meters, and a slender tower from the 15th / 16th century on the west side. Adjacent to the nave were the arms of a spacious, though asymmetrical transept (the northern arm is slightly smaller, 5.5 x 3.3 meters) and a porch from the 14th century from the south. Both arms of the transept at the eastern corners were connected to the chancel with diagonal passages (squints) characteristic of Welsh churches.
The church has preserved all its medieval elements to this day: the nave, transept, tower and porch, and was additionally enlarged by the early modern sacristy at the northern wall of the chancel. All windows have been modernized. Inside the southern arm of the transept you can see two carved crosses from the 10th century and a tombstone from the 13th century. In addition, the church has a Norman baptismal font from the 13th century and a stone with a carved cross from the 8th century.
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 Nicholas and St Teilo’s church, Penally.