South West

Pastoral Group

The churches of East Williamston, Gumfreston,
Manorbier, Penally & St Florence

St James the Great Church


Welcome to the Church of St. James the Great, Manorbier. This is much more than a historic building; it is a living Church. The people of this and the surrounding villages have been coming here for about 800 years to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. You are invited to join us in worship and Christian fellowship, and may your visit to our Church be a blessing to you. We welcome hundreds of visitors from all over the world each week and are proud to very much be a community church. The church is open every day of the year and we leave out tea and coffee for visitors to make and offer a donation if they can afford it. We have a large amount of brochures, cards, and various items for sale, as well as second-hand children's clothing (all the north aisle). Through these donations we raise money for PATCH (Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship). Here are some examples below of some postcards.

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History of the Church

The foundation date of the church is unknown. However, the oval shape of the churchyard suggests a religious site of great antiquity. The first historical mention is by Gerald of Wales (de Barri) in about 1155 as a place of refuge from a threatened attack. In 1301, John de Barri granted the church to Monkton Priory, a Benedictine house. During the Hundred Years War, as an alien house, Monkton lost the Advowson. In 1507, it was then granted by Lady Margaret Tudor, mother of Henry VII, to Christ’s College Cambridge, who kept it until 1920, when it was transferred to the Church in Wales.


The General Structure

The oldest remaining part of the Church is Norman, this being the nave. The nave was lengthened in the C12, with the lower tower, transepts and the rebuilt, and oddly misaligned, chancel added in the C13. After the tower was built, the narrower North transept was lengthened probably in C14 and both aisles were added in C15, the porch and the upper tower being built late C15. The nave, aisles, transepts and porch are constructed as pointed barrel vaults, whereas the chancel has a timber roof. This was re- constructed during Wehnert’s restoration of 1865-8.

1. Porch
2. Fonts
3. Font Cover
4. Settle
5. Reredos
6. Stained glass
7. Royal Arms
Points of Interest

1. The porch has, on the ceiling, surviving medieval painting in floral patterns within panels.
2. There are two Fonts in the Church. The larger has a retooled Norman scalloped bowl with modern pedestal, and the smaller is late medieval.
3. Font cover, 4. Settle, & 5. Reredos, were all carved between 1900 & 1908, by Mrs. Barclay, a local lady.
6. The stained glass in the church windows are all after 1900. The stained glass in the N. aisle window showing St. David and Giraldus Cambrensis is by Kempe & Co. (1915) and can be identified by the Wheat sheaf at the bottom left. The East window is by Joseph Bell (1902), and most of the other windows are by Powell (1919-1926). The three modern windows are by Mrs P. Hughes of Manorbier Newton
7. The Royal Arms of King William (the Third) dated 1701, painted on board. This may have been made to show support for the Act of Settlement.
8. Remains of C15 Rood Loft which was moved to the N. aisle after it fell apart during Wehnert’s restoration. Some original paintwork still survives.
9. The N. transept was lengthened in C14 with five ribs and the effigy of the Knight (now in the chancel) was under an arch, now behind the Altar which was added when the transept was changed into a Memorial chapel in 1960.
10. Effigy of a De Barri of Manorbier Castle. This shows a knight in mail ring armour, with a mixture of plate, sleeveless surcoat and goaded spurs. The armour is dated to about 1325. The shield has the De Barri arms carved on it but the identity is unknown. It could be Walter de Barri, who was killed in Ireland in 1185, or John de Barri who died in 1324.
11. The squint between the S. aisle and the chancel was put in when the S. aisle was built, so that the Altar could be seen when entering the church by the south door. It is now partially obscured by the Screen.
12. The remains of a round-arched window, which was once external.
13. On the right of the S. door is a stoup (a vessel for Holy water) carved out of the wall.

In the Churchyard

14. Churchyard cross with three steps and part of the shaft remaining to the E. of the church. Such crosses formed part of medieval church ritual, especially for the Palm Sunday processions.
15. The ruins to the S. of the church are probably part of the monastic grange (farm). The adjacent house was used as the school from 1840-95.

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