Penmark – St Mary’s Church

History

   Church of St. Mary in Penmark dates from the thirteenth century. It was mentioned for the first time in 1254 in a document assessing its income for 20 pounds a year. In the fifteenth or sixteenth century, a tower was added to the temple. In the nineteenth century, the church underwent a thorough Victorian renovation, during which, among other things, most of the windows were replaced.

Architecture

   The church was built during the transitional period between Romanesque  and early Gothic times. Originally it consisted of a rectangular nave and a slightly narrower, rectangular chancel on the eastern side. On the west side, at the end of the Middle Ages, a four-sided tower was added, crowned with a parapet mounted on corbels and a battlement. In the same period, the entrance to the nave from the south was covered with a late-medieval porch. The church’s windows were originally small, quite narrow, topped with trefoils, some grouped in pairs with a small cross or quatrefoil between the main openings. At the end of the Middle Ages, some of them were replaced with much larger pointed windows, filled with rich tracery. Inside, the nave from the side of the tower was opened with a very high pointed arcade. A magnificent arcade with Romanesque chevron ornaments and masks, but with a Gothic pointed top, separated the nave from the presbytery. Originally, the nave was also separated from the presbytery by a rood screen with a loft, accessible by stairs in the northern wall of the nave.

Current state

   The present church has preserved its perimeter walls and architectural elements, both early and late Gothic. Two arcades opening the nave from the east and west, the original two-light window in the southern wall of the nave from the 13th century, and the renovated late Gothic windows stand out. Inside, there is no trace of the rood screen, but stairs in the northern wall of the nave are visible, and a baptismal font from the 13th century has also survived.

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

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Mary A Grade II Listed Building in Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan.
Website crsbi.ac.uk, St Mary, Penmark, Glamorganshire.