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St Mary the Virgin Church at Rhossili

Church exterior by Barbara Ballard The Rhossili church was built by Anglo-Norman settlers in the Gower peninsula. It is thought to date from around 1200. The design is that of a chancel, nave, and tower with a south side porch. The church underwent some restoration in 1855/6 which made it watertight. The roof ridges had sunk below the gable ends over the centuries. In 1890/91 more work was done with a new roof being put on, a new porch built, and choir stalls and seats for the congregation added. The floor was tiled at the same time.

The church doorway by Richard Law courtesy Geograph The porch doorway is late Norman with outer dogtooth moulding and inner chevrons. It has a primitive sundial in which a stick was placed in a hole and its shadow used to tell the time.

Church and tower by Dr. Duncan Pepper courtesy Geograph The church tower has a transverse saddle-back roof and two narrow south side windows. A chimney sits on top of the tower and was used to vent the fireplace that was installed underneath a grating in the floor of the nave.

The church font by Colin Smith The nave is separated from the chancel by an arch, above which is the site of a former roof loft. Along with the restored windows others were added during the 1800 restoration. The font is one that belongs to the original church.

The chancelís east window is 14th century with some restoration including modern glass. An ambry is in the south wall. It held sacramental vessels. A Ďleperísí window is also on this wall. There are shields representing the stations of the cross.

Church interior by Richard Law courtesy Geograph There were two church bells dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. One was broken and later stolen. Three new bells date from 1893. In the east end of the churchyard is a sundial and a lamp base with a coiled rope design. It relates to the Rhossili coastguards and the sailors buried in the churchyard. Wildflowers of many kinds grow in the grounds.

In the sand dunes below the village teetering on the edge of a low cliff is the Church in the Warren. The church became completely covered with the shifting of the sand. It was part of the oldest Rhossili village that also disappeared under the sand in the 14th century. Much of the church remains survived. The remains were filled with sand again after being excavated by archaeologists in order to preserve them. They are protected by law as an ancient monument. The exact date of its construction is not known.

Visitor Information

Rhossili is located on the Gower peninsula in the Swansea area of Wales.
See our article Glorious Gower

Photo of Rhossili church exterior © by Barbara Ballard
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Rhossili church font by Colin Smith; church interior and church doorway by Richard Law; church tower by Dr Duncan Pepper.

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St Mary the Virgin Church at Rhossili, Gower
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