St. Cadoc’s Church, Penrhos

About the church (written by Luke Herrmann)

Penrose in Monmouthshire c1848

Several other churches in Monmouthshire, including Raglan and Caerleon, are dedicated to St. Cadoc, whose saint’s day is on September 25th. Active in either the 5th or 6th centuries, he was the son of St. Woolos, the patron saint of our cathedral in Newport. After education at Caerwent he was the founder of the monastery at Llancarvan, and then travelled on missionary work in Ireland, Brittany and Cornwall. On return to Llancarvan he reformed the monastery and founded churches in the area, as well as in Brittany.

The name Penrhos means ‘end’ or ‘top of the moor’, which probably means that this district continued to be moorland after the surrounding country had been cultivated.

A church at Penrhos was assessed for tax in 1245 (at £4) but in 1291 Llantilio was assessed at £13.6s.8p ‘with its chapel Penrhos’. Penrhos continued to be served from Llantilio until 1846.

The Rev. William Feetham became the first resident vicar in 1866. He was a wealthy man, who remained vicar until his death in 1902. In 1867 he built the Vicarage, the School and the School House.

St. Cadoc’s Church in 2015 before restoration

The church roof is a good example of a wagon or barrel vault

The main parts of the present church building probably date from the early 15th century, and the tower, with its battlemented parapet, from later in that century. Like many church towers in the area it was built as an observation point which could be easily defended.

The bells are inscribed; the oldest was recast in 1904 but still bears its ancient inscription ‘Santa Margareta’. The others are dated 1623, 1672 and 1904 (given in memory of Mr. Feetham). 

The church is Grade II* listed, as ‘a small medieval church with good 15th century character, including a fine interior’, of which the principal feature is the splendidly complete ribbed wagon roof with its decorative square bosses.

The church underwent extensive restoration under its first vicar in 1848, when the choir stalls were probably installed. In 1878 Feetham employed the principal ecclesiastical architect in Monmouthshire, John Prichard, who was diocesan architect of Llandaff, to build the lean-to north aisle and vestry, which considerably enlarged the church.

New lych gate c1931

New lych gate c1931

Prichard re-used two of the original Perpendicular windows in the east and west walls of the aisle. The characterful porch over the south door, with its low stone side walls and carrying timber arches and roof, was also probably designed by Prichard, as were the octagonal stone font and the changes to the medieval cross in the churchyard.

The lych gate is in an arts and crafts style and was erected in 1931 as a war memorial. The pulpit dates from 1979.

Photographs from the 1930’s

Read about the 2018 restoration work at the church