St James Church Manorbier

St James Church Manorbier
Record Type:
Parish Church
Church code:
St Davids
St Davids

Statutory Designation Information

Listed Building?
This is a Grade I Listed Building
Scheduled Monument?
There is no Scheduled Monument within the curtilage or precinct

National Park

The church is in the following National Park: Pembrokeshire Coast

Conservation Area

The church is in the following Conservation Area: Manorbier/Freshwater East

Buildings At Risk Status

On Buildings At Risk Register?
This church is not on the Buildings at Risk Register

Approximate Date

Approximate Date:

Exterior Image

St James' Church Manorbier
St James' Church Manorbier
St James Manorbier looking towards the South Porch
Year / Date:
Church in Wales
Tina Andrew

Summary Description

The church of St James is located in the coastal village of Manorbier in South Pembrokeshire. It sits within its ancient circular churchyard on a steep slope overlooking the sea to the west and Manorbier castle to the north. The castle was the birthplace of Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) and the church still houses an effigy of a de Barri (Gerald’s family name). It had an early connection with the nearby Benedictine Monkton Priory (now the Church of Saints Nicholas & John) who supplied its first rector, Prior Richard, in 1251. The church consists of a south porch, nave, aisles, transepts, chancel and north tower. It is remarkable for having barrel vaulting throughout most of the interior. The oldest part is the 12C nave, which was barrel-vaulted and lengthened in the 13C. The mis-aligned chancel was rebuilt and the transepts added in the 14C. The narrow north transept was lengthened and given a barrel vault with a wide squint to the south in the 14C. The aisles were both added in the 15C. The north aisle is unusual in that it is almost the same size as the nave and now houses the 15C rood loft, moved there in the 19C. The porch with its painted ceiling was added in the late 15C. The chancel was given an arch-braced roof in the 19C and the north transept converted to a chapel in the 20C. St James is mostly built from local limestone rubble masonry with some local sandstone in the tower and slate roofs with parapets. Several blocked doorways on the exterior of the building indicate the ground level has risen considerably since the medieval period, possibly by 1 or 2 metres. Further up the hill to the south of the church on the site of Church Hill Cottage is structural evidence of perhaps 5 buildings. It is thought these buildings are (or incorporate remains of) a grange established after Sir John de Barri granted the church to the Priory of Monkton in 1301. Internally, Church Hill Cottage has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, possibly contemporary with the church and was used as a school in the 19C. The Ordnance Survey map of 1860 clearly shows a school and vicarage on the site. Main references: Pevsner Buildings of Wales - Pembrokeshire and the list descriptions at the bottom of this page.

Visiting and Facilities

The church is open for worship.
St James Manorbier is open to visitors during daylight hours from April to October.

Church Website

Church Website:
Work in progress - can you help?

Sources and Further Information

View information on worship and access at this church on the Church In Wales web site
RCAHMW (2004) Coflein [Digital Archive/Document]
A description of St James' Church in the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) Coflein database.
Tina Andrew (2016) St James' Church Manorbier [Digital Archive/Graphic material]
St James' Church Manorbier
St James' Church Manorbier looking towards the south porch.
Tina Andrew (date unknown) St James' Church Manorbier [Digital Archive/Graphic material]
St James' Church Manorbier
Interior of St James' Church looking towards the chancel.
Stained Glass in Wales (2016) St James' Church Manorbier [Digital Archive/Graphic material]
This website contains images from the Stained Glass in Wales database for St Mary's Church.
Tina Andrew (2003) Plan of St James' Church Manorbier [Digital Archive/Graphic material]
Plan of St James' Church Manorbier
Cadw (1996) Historic Wales Report (5675) [Digital Archive/Document]
The Cadw list description for the Church of St James Manorbier.