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St Gwynog’s, St Twynnells

Location: St Twynnells, near Pembroke
OS Reference: SR949975
Listed: Grade II*

The church is open during daylight hours throughout the year.

The Saint
St Gwynog (other Welsh forms - Gwynnoc, Gwynauc, Gwnnog, Gwynawc, Gwnawg, Gwyngawr, Gwynno and Wynnog;  Latinised forms - Gwinocus, Gwynnocus, Winocus etc) was a Welsh Saint of the 6th century, son of Gildas ab Caw and a member of the Society of  St Cattwg or Cadoc.  

His feast day is October 26th.  He was patron of Y Vaenor, Brecknockshire and was said to have assisted St Illtyd and St Tyfodwg in founding Llantrisant, Glamorgan.  (Hence "The Church of the Three Saints").  Under this Church there was a Chapel called Llanwynno, dedicated to him.  He also founded Llanwynnog, Montgomeryshire, where in a painted window of the 14th century he is represented in Bishop's attire.  His link with St Twynnells is not known.


The Name of the Parish
There is no doubt that the name of the Parish originates from corruption of  "Saint-Gwynno", but it may well be that the confusion in the popular mind with the "Twin wells" nearby (see below) could have contributed to the final form of the name.


The Church
The earliest known reference to St Twynnells Church is in 1259 when the Abbey of Seyes had a Rector at St Twynnells which was at that time part of the possessions of St Nicholas' Priory, Pembroke.  There was also at that time a daughter Church of St Twynnells at the Chapel of "Kylkermeran", which was situated at Crickmarren Farm in a field which is still known at Church Field.

In 1260 the Prior, with the approval of the Abbot of Seyes, gave the Church and its lands to Richard Carew, Bishop of St Davids. The tithe lands of the Church stretched from the coast northwards almost as far as Monkton and included Orielton estate.


Parish Groupings
In 1851 the Parish was united with Warren and in 1860 the Vicar of St Twynnells was authorised to borrow from Queen Anne's Bounty to build a Vicarage.  In 1941 it was separated from Warren and joined with Bosherston. Then in 1985 Bosherston and St Twynnells were grouped with Stackpole Elidor and St Petrox.  In 2001 these four parishes were further grouped with St Mary's Pembroke and St Michael's Pembroke.  In 2004 the church became part of the Rectorial Benefice of Monkton.


The Church Building and contents
The church building, which would seem to be largely 13th century, consists of nave, chancel and sanctuary with a fine square tower at the west end, containing 3 bells.  The east window, dedicated to Stoker Williams and Pte T Phillips, the two men from the Parish who died in the 1914-18 War, depicts the Crucifixion of Christ, with Mary and John at the foot of the Cross while a small window in the South chancel in memory of Edward Roberts, Church Warden from 1929 to 1965 depicts St Francis of Assisi.  A Stone tablet in the North nave is dedicated to Katherine Owen of Orielton who died in 1698.

Near the porch there is a stone preaching cross.

The location of the village
It would appear that up to the 18th century the village of St Twynnells lay in the valley between the church and Sampson Cross (to the South East).  There is reason to believe that the farm now known as Valast Hill was originally a manor overlooking a cluster of cottages, the ruins of which can still be seen.  Nearby was Lyserry Forge Farm, where the disused forge still exists.  Beside the forge is an old stone dovecote.  The modern village however has grown up at the top of the hill just to the north west of the Church.

The view from St Twynnells is quite spectacular, situated as it is at the crest of the southernmost ridge in Pembrokeshire.  To the north one sees stretches of fields and woods, with snatches of Milford Haven and in the far distance the Preselli Hills.  To the east is the lovely expanse of Stackpole estate, Trevallen Downs and Bosherston village with just a glimpse of Broadhaven Bay and Stackpole Quay.  Further away one can see Manorbier, Caldey Island and the Gower coast.  To the west one can see the valley beside Castlemartin, sloping away to Freshwater West, backed up by the panorama of Dale Roads and St Anne's Head with, occasionally a glimpse of Skokholm Island.  To the south is the expanse of the RAC Firing Range and the vista of coastline stretching from Linney Head to St Govan's Head with Lundy Island and the North coast of Devon in the distance.


The Loving Stone
To the South of St Twynnells on the main road is the farm of Loveston.  Its name derives from a large rectangular stone, still to be seen in the farmyard where traditionally lovers used to pledge their troth.  It is said they still do.......


The Twin Wells
To the south east of the Church lies a dwelling now known as "The Wells".  Opposite the front door there are two wells, only a few yards away from each other.  The fact of two springs emerging in such close proximity gave rise to the name "Twin-wells".  Many people still mistakenly believe that the name of the Parish and the church owe their name to these twin wells.  But this is certainly not so originally.

St Twynells Church from the south west

Image © Monkton Rectorial Benefice