Many of the Gower churches are dedicated to the Celtic saints such as Cenydd and Teilo who brought Christianity to the area. The founder of our church in Reynoldston is believed to be Reginald (or Reynald) de Breos, from whom the village gets its name. The De Breos family were given the Lordship of Gower from King John in c12th century. The church was erected in the early 13th century. The southern and western parts of the peninsula were populated largely by English settlers. It is hardly surprising then that the church was dedicated to St George, the Patron Saint of England! St George was supposedly born in Cappadocia (Turkey) and was put to death for supporting the Christian faith, by Emperor Diocletian, c300 AD.
The old church was a simple stone building, probably with a thatched roof. It was rebuilt in 1867. The font and some other memorials from the old church were retained in the new building.
The names of the Rectors are engraved on slate tablets on the porch side walls. The right to appoint them remained in the hands of private landowners like the Vernon’s and the Talbots of Penrice until 1920. This is when the Church in Wales was disestablished from the Church of England.
The Rector was remunerated by the receipt of “tithes” (being one tenth of the agricultural produce of the parish). He also farmed the church owned Glebe comprised of 41 acres of arable and pasture land south west of Castle Ditty Lane. At Easter time he received eggs and money from parishioners three pence from each married couple, a penny halfpenny from each widow or widower and a halfpenny from each single person. The parish had two Church Wardens and a parochial Church Council.
By the 18th century tithes had largely abandoned in favour of regular payments, but it became increasingly difficult to support one church. In the 1780s, for example, Reynoldston was served by the Rector of Llanmadoc. Until recently Saint George’s Reynoldston was grouped with Saint Cenyth’s, Llangennith and St Andrew’s, Penrice. They were separate parishes under the control of one Priest. Now St George’s is part of the United Benefice of South West Gower and the church provides two subwardens as part of this new parish.
Pastoral care for weddings, funerals and occasional offices, visiting and sick communions is available from Rev Justin Davies. Tel 232829 or email: justindavies26 at gmail.com
The key is available from the Rector.
The font is made from a stalagmite and dates back to the original building, and may have come from one of the caves within the south Gower cliffs. The exterior of the font had a shiny translucent surface, like alabaster, but when the church was rebuilt it was chiselled into its present state.
Erected when the church was rebuilt, it shows a carving of St George slaying the dragon.
The Pillar Cross
This stone stands on the north side of the nave by the chancel arch, and is one of the earliest Christian monuments in Gower. Carved more than 1000 years ago the decoration shows the influence of the early Irish church. The side facing the aisle depicts a simple cross, while the other side has an elaborate carving of crosses and interlacing.
John Lucas, of Stouthall, found the cross and re-erected it in a field within Stouthall Park and set it in an old millstone on a mound (supposedly the burial place of his favourite horse!). In 1977 it was decided that it should be placed under cover to protect it from further weathering. It was presented to the church and erected there in the same year.
Such stones were used in early Christian times to indicate church property or as boundary markers or even as a roadside tombstone. Roadside burials were a tradition practised by early Christians in Wales, inherited from pagan ancestors.
The old church contained a number of tombstones and memorials, mainly to members of the Lucas family, local landowners and farmers around the village since 15th century. Most of these burials are in a vault below the transept. A war memorial plaque shows the names of 5 who died in World War 1 and 4 in World War 2.
The east window of the chancel shows scenes of the resurrection, the north window St George and St David and the south an Angel with the Virgin Mary.
The transept east window is of the lamb and flag, the north dedicated to Mary Tottenham.
The nave contains the Dorcas window in memory of Mabel Bunning designed by Celtic Studios, Swansea and erected in 1978.
The west “Crawshay” window was erected in 1905 and is in memory of Colonel Edward and Mary Wood of Stouthall.
The church lies just to the rear of the village green where there is a regular bus service. See the Gower Explorer timetable.
Rev Justin Davies
©The Parish of South West Gower is part of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in the Church in Wales