The church in St Ishmael was mentioned for the first time in historical documents in 1115. At that time, it was granted to the priory in Kidwelly. The granting was confirmed in 1303, and in 1368 the right to appoint parish priest (advowson) in St Ihmael was obtained by the bishop of St Davids. During the Reformation, advowson passed into the English Crown. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the building was enlarged by a tower, built on the southern porch. According to tradition, it was damaged during the storm and remained reduced later. In the years 1859-1860 the church underwent a thorough renovation, during which windows, roofs and internal equipment were replaced, and the southern transept was turned into a sacristy.
The medieval church consisted of a rectangular three-bay nave and an externally not separated two-bay chancel on the eastern side, probably the result of the extension of the 12th-century aisleless temple in the 13th century. In the 14th century, a porch was added to the south side, which in the 16th century, after the superstructure, received a multi-story form, similar to a tower. In the fourteenth or fifteenth century, the northern aisle was created. It was erected in the same shape and with similar dimensions (it was slightly shorter and slightly narrower) as the nave and the chancel, and was topped with a separate gable roof. On the south side, the 14th-century single arm of the transept (or rather chapel) was connected with the presbytery by a skew passage.
Today, the church has a small size, but quite an interesting layout, which is the result of several expansions carried out in the Middle Ages. The towerlike porch is especially characteristic and unusual. Early modern changes are: two buttresses supporting the western facade of the nave, a chimney inserted into the eastern wall of the southern chapel, replaced roof truss and, unfortunately, replaced all window jambs.
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, V County of Carmarthen, London 1917.
Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Ishmael A Grade II Listed Building in St. Ishmael (Llanismel), Carmarthenshire.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Ishmael’s; St Ismael’s Church, St Ishmael’s.