Angle St Mary
Bosherston St Michael
Castlemartin St Michael
Hundleton St David
Lamphey SS Faith& Tyfei
SS Nicholas & John
Pembroke St Mary
St Petrox St Pedrog
St Twynnells St Gwynog
SS James & Elidyr
St Michael & All Angels, Pembroke
Location: Main Street, Pembroke
OS Reference: SM988013
Listed: Grade II
The church is open to visitors each day between 9.00am and 5.00pm
St Michael’s church, like St Mary’s located at the west end of Pembroke, dates from at least the 13th century. In 1291 St Michael’s is mentioned as a possession of Monkton Priory, though St Mary’s is not mentioned at that time. Both were at a later date possessions of Monkton.
The church has been extensively restored and is a most fascinating and puzzling building.
Alongside the eastern edge of the churchyard, and to the south of the church, are the remains of what appears to be some very ancient edifice. Arches uncovered during the demolition of cottages, which formerly stood on the site, suggest some link with the church.
Somewhere near the Eastgate of the town was a hospice dedicated to St Mary Magdalene and it has been conjectured that this was in some way connected with St Michael’s Church. The hospice probably stood outside the gate, towards the district now known as Merlin's Cross.
The church tower appears to have been built in three stages. The lower stage seems at one time to have been the main entrance to the church. It has an imposing doorway now blocked up. Just inside the doorway is a flagstone, which appears to have once supported the font. It has remained unmoved and it is in just the position where it should have been if this was the main entrance.
Fenton, writing in 1828, described the church as having a squat central tower and this would imply that the building stretched further eastward than it presently does. In 1832 the church was almost entirely re-built under the directions of the architect T Rowlands.
This structure is said to have had sash windows and a gallery at the west end. The east end must have been much as it is at present for the stained glass window there, depicting the last supper, dates from 1845. The window is by the London firm Cox & Sons, and is the oldest stained glass in either of the two Pembroke churches. By 1887 the church needed extensive renovation amounting to a partial rebuilding. This work, under the direction of the architect Lingren Barker, provided the church we now have.
The Nave and Aisle
The font at the south door is a copy of the medieval font at Lamphey church and the south aisle is separated from the nave by an arcade of arches. These are of some interest because their columns have moulded capitals and it is quite characteristic of the period that no two mouldings are the same. They represent a fascinating variety of fruits and flowers, and the two nearest the altar in the south aisle depict the sparrow and swallow which, according to the Psalmist, make their home in God’s house.
C E Kempe made five of the stained glass windows, including the War Memorial, and a wrought iron screen dividing the nave from the chancel is a dominating feature of the church.
St Michael’s has several interesting memorials. In the nave is a brass tablet which gives, in great and confusing detail, the family history of Joshua Allen. Those remembered nearly all seem to have been soldiers or clerics and to unravel all their relationships would form a suitable occupation for a wet afternoon!
The wooden panel which originally stood behind the main altar presently forms the reredos to the altar in the south aisle. It was replaced in 1931 by the present panelling and reredos. The main altar and oak panels are a memorial to Thomas Howells and his wife Elizabeth, who made a legacy to the church for their purchase. The parishioners provided the reredos which is one of the distinctions of St Michael’s. It is of carved wood and at its centre is the traditional rood – the representation of the Crucifixion - with the figures of the Virgin Mary to the right of the cross and St John the Evangelist to the left. This much, at least, is known but we can only conjecture upon the other figures shown.
One such depiction could be either St Michael or St George, both were notable dragon slayers. In view of the church’s dedication the figure probably represents St Michael. Next to him comes a figure who is probably St Joseph for he has the tools of a carpenter. Then come the three central figures mentioned above. Next is a nun-like figure holding a book with a child at her knee. Who is this? The similarity of the dress of this little girl to that of the Virgin Mary suggests that we may have here a picture of St Ann, mother and teacher of the Virgin Mary. Was this theme chosen, perhaps, because of the old chapel of St Ann which stood once on the banks of the estuary near Bush House? The seventh figure is St David, bishop and Patron Saint of Wales.
Oldest Part of Building
The clergy vestry, north of the sanctuary, is the oldest surviving part of the church. It retains its original stone-vaulted ceiling, and may at one time have stood separate from the main body of the church. Located here are a 17th century piscina and two memorials of the same period. That to Major David Mackenzie, his wife Ann and their two children, throws light on social conditions of the day. At the time of their marriage he was 30, she was 15. Her first child was born when she was 16 and both her children died in infancy; he lived to be 45, Ann died aged 28.