The church of St. James and St Elidyr in Stackpole was built in the 12th century, in area with strong English colonization since the times of the Norman conquest. Regarding the English heritage, it is mysterious that the church was dedicated to Saint Elidyr or Elidor. The name may, however, refer to Elidor de Stackpole, a Norman knight who founded a settlement here. Perhaps it was the custom of commemorating the founder as a saint patron. Under the dedication of Saint James church was known only from the eighteenth century. In 1851, the building underwent a Victorian renovation by Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most-recognized architects at the time.
The medieval church consisted of a long, rectangular nave measuring about 17.4 x 5.8 meters and a rectangular chancel on the eastern side measuring 6.5 x 4.4 meters. The transept arms were added to the nave from the north and south in the 14th century. Very large squints connected each transept with the chancel. On the south side of the church, a porch was also erected, through which the entrance to the nave led. At the end of the northern part of the transept there was a four-sided, four-story tower built, located so atypically in order to take advantage of the higher ground level in that place. The tower received a traditional, local form with walls tapering in the upper parts, a parapet placed on corbels and a staircase with 94 steps in the north-west corner. Its ground floor was vaulted and opened to the northern part of the transept. The porch, both arms of the transept and the upper floors of the tower were also covered with pointed vaults.
Currently, the church has a nave heavily rebuilt in the early modern period, and a 19th-century sacristy is located at the northern wall of the chancel. Also, the chapel on the south side (Lort Chapel) is an early modern addition. Inside the porch, tower and in the transepts, there are the original vaults from the fourteenth century. A small piscina from the fourteenth century in the southern arm of the transept and the hagioscope (viewing hole) in the chancel arch are also preserved. All windows and arches in the chancel and transept were modernized in the early modern period, as was the entrance portal to the nave.
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 britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, St. Elidyr’s Church A Grade I Listed Building in Stackpole, Pembrokeshire.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St James and St Elidyr’s church, Stackpole Elidor.