Building » Caldey Island – St David

Caldey Island – St David

Caldey Island, off Tenby, SA70 7UH

A small two-cell medieval church, probably of the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, repaired and restored in the 1830s and in the early twentieth century. The building contains several noteworthy furnishings including a font by Eric Gill and stained glass by Dom Theodore Baily.

St David’s is the medieval parish church, probably dating from the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, which was built to serve the island community. Its original dedication is uncertain; the current dedication was given by the Benedictines in the twentieth century. The island was bought in 1792 by Thomas Kynaston of Pembroke, who built a mansion alongside the medieval priory. Major repairs to the church were undertaken by Cabot Kynaston in 1838 after the roofs and the south and east walls of the chancel had collapsed; the building was given new roofs and timber Gothick windows. More repairs were carried out c1900 under the auspices of William Done Bushell, who purchased the island in 1897. Seven years later in 1906 Bushell sold Caldey to Benjamin Fearnley Carlyle as a home for his newly-founded community of Anglican Benedictine monks. More repairs and alterations, including the re-opening of the chancel arch, were carried out in 1906-7, either by John Coates Carter, architect of the new monastery buildings, or by J. C. Hawes, who had trained as an architect and was a novice at Caldey. A font carved by Eric Gill was installed at this time.

In 1913 nearly all members of the Caldey community were received into the Catholic Church. Further repairs were carried by Carter in 1925, when the 1830s windows were replaced by simple lancets. Many of the new windows were filled with stained glass by Dom Theodore Baily OSB, who was a member of the Benedictine community in the 1920s and had trained under George Desvallieres and Maurice Denis in Paris. The building is not now used for services, except on request.


See list description below. There are some minor discrepancies between this and the entry in The Buildings of Wales.

The church consists of a short aisleless nave, a short chancel with an eastern bellcote and a west porch. The thick walls are of rubble stone and the pitched roofs covered with red pantiles, probably introduced by Coates Carter in the 1920s. Internally the nave walls have been stripped but the chancel walls are plastered. The roof has tie-beams supporting king posts and raking struts; the timberwork appears to be of twentieth century date. The round-headed chancel arch is also twentieth century but the stone imposts may be medieval. There are two plain altars of Penarth alabaster, probably by Coates Carter; one in the sanctuary and one in the nave to the right of the chancel arch. At the west end of the nave is a large Portland stone font with two bowls and inscribed pedestal, this was carved by Eric Gill and installed in 1906. Stained glass in the nave and chancel and in the west rose window is by Dom Theodore Baily OSB and was installed in the 1920s. The figures on the rood may have been carved by J. C. Hawes (the list entry suggests they were brought from Oberammergau).

List descriptions


Reference Number: 5933
Grade: II*  
Date of Designation: 14/05/1970  
Date of Amendment: 28/03/2002  
Name of Property: Church of Saint David  
Unitary Authority: Pembrokeshire  
Community: Tenby  
Town: Tenby  
Locality: Caldey Village  
Easting: 214282  
Northing: 196641  
Location: Situated some 50m W of Caldey Abbey chapel.  

History: Medieval church restored in 1838, 1900 and 1925 according to inscriptions in the porch. The plan of short nave and short chancel suggests a C12 or early C13 date. The Rev W D Bushell thought the chancel E and S walls were rebuilt in 1838, and also the roofs. He restored the church again in 1900, and works were done in 1906 prior to the arrival of the Anglican Benedictine monks. A survey drawing of the inner W door by J Coates Carter may indicate that the work in 1925 was by him. This work may include the 2 2-light S windows, exposing the round arch of the original W door, raising the W porch to allow for this, and reroofing in clay tiles. The work in 1906 was probably by J C Hawes, who as Brother Jerome was one of the monks. Old photographs show the S windows to have been pointed with 2-light Y-tracery in timber. Old photographs show a thin metal screen in the chancel arch, an organ, a painted rood on plaster above, and an altar with hangings in chancel.  

Exterior: Church, rubble stone with red Bridgwater-tile roofs. Nave and chancel, W bellcote, added W porch and N side lean-to. Short square nave has one 2-light C19 S window, plain W roundel and tiny N arched light. Tiled gabled squat bellcote with opening for a single bell. W porch has arch of 3 stones and 1925 restoration plaque over. Stone seats and slate floor within. Chancel has similar 2-light S window and small pointed N window. E end has no windows but blocked pointed door with brick head to left.  

Interior: Nave of some 9 m square has walls some 90 cm thick. Exposed rubble walls, formerly plastered. W door uncovered in 1907 has arched head on inside, within wider arch with stone voussoirs, possibly Norman but without datable features. E end of nave has a full-height recess with inserted chancel arch, but the rough imposts are probably original. Nave N door to lean-to vestry. S window shows brick head of earlier C19 previous window. Chancel, some 5.2 m square, has plastered walls, thinner masonry than nave except on the N. Roofs are tie-beam trusses with wishbone struts, C19 or early C20. Fittings: Both S windows have stained glass by Dom Bede Bailey, each with 2 figures against background of pale coloured quarries. Nave 2-light, after 1924, has bishop and king, chancel 2-light, after 1922, has 2 female saints. Tiny nave N window has coloured glass quarries, chancel N small pointed light has fish in bright colours, similar style to trees and star in W roundel. Big ashlar font by Eric Gill, earlier C20, with chamfered deep square bowl on trefoil-plan shaft with column shafts in angles. Column shafts have spiral decoration. Bowl has lip on N side with oval hollow. Nave altar made of blocks of rough alabaster. Chancel altar, later C20 trapezoid, free-standing. Above chancel arch is rood beam with Crucifixion, SS Mary and John, carved in Oberammergau.  

Reason for designation: Included as a small medieval church with good earlier C20 stained glass and font.  

Churchyard Cross

Reference Number: 26452
Grade: II  
Date of Designation: 28/03/2002  
Date of Amendment: 28/03/2002  
Name of Property: Churchyard cross in churchyard of Church of St David  
Unitary Authority: Pembrokeshire  
Community: Tenby  
Town: Tenby  
Locality: Caldey Village  
Easting: 214283  
Northing: 196631  
Location: Situated to S of Church of St David, in churchyard.  

History: Churchyard cross, c1920, presumably by John Coates Carter as a memorial to Margaret Egerton (d 1919) and Major Robert Egerton, killed 1917. The cross is similar in design to Coates Carter’s war memorial crosses at Prestbury, Cricklewood and Pembroke Dock.  

Exterior: Churchyard cross, stone, on rough stone step. Tapered octagonal base with well-lettered inscription ‘Pray for the soul of dame Margaret Egerton buried near this cross and also for her son Major Robert Egerton MC RFC killed in France 1917 aged 25’. Tapering tall slim cross. square at base, broached to octagonal with carved crucified Christ figure under stone gable.  

Reason for designation: Included as well-carved and well-designed churchyard memorial cross.  

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1200

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II*