The parish Church of St. Rhidian & St. Illtyd Church, Llanrhidian
Set against a backdrop of wooded cliffs that were one time quarried for limestone, Llanrhidian Church sits on a steep slanting green, overlooking the beautiful marshland of North Gower.
The original ‘Llan’ probably dates back to the 6th century, as there was once an inscribed stone (lost) in the area. Rhydian might be a corruption of ‘Tryrulhid’, who was St Illtyd’s wife. However, there are also legends about a Celtic monk. The tower and chancel of the church are 13th century, built by Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller, but the nave was rebuilt in the Victorian era.
A large stone block named the ‘Parson’s Bed’ tops the massive west tower. This structure was originally a fire beacon to give warning of enemies approaching by land or sea.
In the porch is the mysterious ‘leper stone’ bearing representations of human and animal figures. This was discovered near the tower and is dated back to the 9th or 10th centuries. It might have Viking origins and could possibly be a hog-back tombstone. On the green outside are the remains of an 11th century wheel cross known as the ‘Pillory’ (or whipping) Stone.
Early settlement in Llanrhidian and the subsequent building of the church was influenced by the two natural springs found here, providing clean water, in spite of the close proximity to the salt marsh. One of the village springs, feeding the mill stream, can be found on the western brim of the place of worship grounds bordering a residential flower bed. The other spring, the renowned St. Illtyd’s Well or ‘Butter Well’, can also be discovered close by in the back flower bed of a house at the base of the village.
A place rich in history has been given a new lease of life by the new Fr Tim Ardouin, Fr Tim is Priest in Charge for the three churches of North East Gower and their communities. With a unique style and approach to worship Fr Tim regularly takes his Church to the people, with outdoor events gigging with his bands, clifftop gatherings and spreading the word on local and global issues. Bringing together The Gower churches with a more modern outtake.
Sunday Service for The parish Church of St. Rhidian & St. Illtyd Church is 9.30am Holy Eucharist. Baptisms, Weddings Banns of marriage and funerals by arrangement.
Tel: 01792 391353
Fr Tim’s Blog http://tonnaudew.wordpress.com/