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Church of St John the Baptist, Porthcawl

Description: Church of St John the Baptist

Grade: I
Date Listed: 5 January 1951
Cadw Building ID: 11214

OS Grid Coordinates: 283659, 177477
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4838, -3.6757

Location: Church St, Porthcawl, Bridgend CF36, UK CF36 5PD

Locality: Porthcawl
County: Bridgend
Country: Wales
Postcode: CF36 5PD

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Listing Text

Location
In the centre of the old village of Newton with two sides of the rectangular churchyard fronting the village green; main access at WSW.

History
A church originally built late C12. Founders have been variously proposed as Richard de Cardiff, William Earl of Gloucester, or de Sanford, one of the knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem who gave his name to the adjacent well and whose family were Lords of Newton; first rector installed 1189. Substantial refurbishment 1485-1495 by Jasper Tudor who was Duke of Bedford and uncle of King Henry VII and held lordship of Glamorgan and with it the land that became Pembroke Manor in Newton Nottage. Further work by rector Revd Robert Knight, owner of Danygraig, 1826-7, including alterations to medieval stone pulpit and addition of vestry NE. Prichard and Seddon restoration of 1860-1. Organ chamber built 1885. Further restoration from 1903 and in 1927 including reflooring nave, reroofing porch, replacing S doors of nave and chancel, installing oak stalls in chancel. Church meeting room and vestry wing added at N 1993. Newtown, referred to as Novam Villam in Margan (Glamorgan) in C12 grant document, post-dates the early medieval settlement of Nottage; Newton Nottage has been a joint parish since c 1300. Newtown was also a small seaport particularly active by turn of C16, with the majority of trade with ports on the other side of the Bristol Channel; the church would have stood at the entrance to the village from the sea. Patrons of parish who in turn appointed rectors until Disestablishment in 1920 were Lords of the Manors of Pembroke, Herbert and Lougher.

Interior
Interior is limewashed with exposed dressings. Nave windows have deep splays with high pointed chamfered arches; S door has high round headed arched surround; internal window masonry is partly original partly renewed in 1860s restoration; damaged shallow canopied niche set in E splay of SE window with adjacent piscina. Pointed tower arch of giant blocks is high and wide, the wall rounded into piers, no capitals; tower entrance in E face of SW wall. Tower now has two tiers of windows visible at ground floor level; splays show very thick walls; interior chamfered lights to tower staircase; ring of 8 bells, 4 of C17 origin though recast, and cast iron bell frame by Llewellins and James of Bristol 1906. Chancel arch is simple and pointed with a very deep plinth, following exterior pattern, and shallow capitals and incorporates a support for the former rood loft, with squints above both N and S; some fragmentary stone carving on ledge including floriated cross; access to loft was through chamfered Tudor arched doorway in N wall; steps right lead to high level square headed access doorway. Steps left lead to extremely rare stone pulpit protruding from N wall, with figures in relief depicting The Flagellation with vine scroll above (before remodelling in early C19 pulpit protruded further into nave); the chamfered four-centred arch behind has 2 angels holding a chalice; remains of wallpainting on and adjacent to doorway. Further wallpainting depicting John the Baptist survives formerly protected by a monument on NE nave corner. Nave roof of 6 bays is boarded, arch braced with low ridge beam, each truss springing from boss-like corbels. Nave wall monuments of C17 and C18 are rectangular with semi-circular heads. Low octagonal font with lead lining and renewed cover. Stoup by S door with stiff leaf decoration. Stained glass SW window c 1919 by Henry Halliday and tower W by R J Newbery before 1907.

Chancel arch has on E side an outer order, matching outer order rood support on W. N chancel window has a large chamfered rectangular lintel. Chancel and nave floors are level, ledgers and slabs to chancel; three stone steps to sanctuary which has unusual pale encaustic tiles with dark insets and borders. Unusual and massive stone mensa, a long rectangular slab with chamfered edges, without the usual 5 consecration crosses though 2 marks possibly identifiable as such. Acutely pointed arch to crudely moulded piscina SE. Four-bay wagon roof has reeded beams, gilded bosses, moulded wallplate bearing painted shields with Instruments of the Passion. Stained glass E window depicting Christ between SS Peter and John by Morris and Co 1877, figures designed by Burne Jones. Wall monuments to local families, Knights and Loughers of Tythegston, including Neoclassical monument by Wood to Henry Knight d 1825 Vice Lieutenant of County and a grand baroque monument to Loughers of Tythegston d 1686 and 1722.

Exterior
Built of roughly coursed grey rubble with grey or yellow ashlar dressings; slate roof with stone apex finials. Plan of large W tower, nave, S porch, chancel, NE chapel and N wing. Dominating and defensive W tower has a saddleback roof, with embattled and corbelled parapets only to N and S; stone tiled gable coping surmounted by a compass weather vane. N and S faces have 4 storeys of small tower openings, round or square headed, one to S trefoil headed, some with relieving arches, some chamfered surrounds; wide angle buttresses with deep offsets at each corner. E face has large shouldered opening above massive corbel table presumably formerly supporting a timber platform; wide relieving arch above steep pitched nave roof, the weathercoursing of old stone slates visible just above present roof and incorporating a tiny light above the swept eaves on S side. W face has a face corbel, reputedly of John the Baptist, above louvred gable opening; clock; 3 light W window with cusped panel tracery and hoodmould in a deep concave surround finishes on a sillband defining the W entrance. Late medieval moulded pointed arched W doorway has small shallow attached triple shafts with polygonal capitals standing on a stone bench and rising at sides to form crocketed finials incorporating shield-bearing angels; a cross rising from the apex of the ogee arched outer order interrupts the sill band; eye level recess to right of door and stone step.

Deep late medieval S porch with deep, swept and overhanging eaves, ridge stones, coping and kneelers and deep quoins. Shallow moulded basket arched S doorway has a raised plinth standing on a ledge, hoodmould with plain angled stops and keystone with tree motif; blank rectangular recess above doorway and sundial below decorative apex stone. Inside the porch is broad, with stone benches to sides, stone flagged floor, wall monuments and re-set slab with floriated cross repaired 2 bay arch braced roof with lowered ridge beam; moulded similar S doorway with broached base, small niche above doorway under a relieving arch, stoup with stiff leaf decoration. S nave Perpendicular windows, C19 restorations, either side of porch have 3 lights and voussoirs.

Chancel S has square headed priests' doorway with heavy hoodmould with angel stops and pointed arched hollow chamfered doorway with decorative spandrels; to left a square headed 2-light window with hoodmould continuous with door mould; SE window similar to S nave but smaller and with a surviving hoodmould; weathered wall monument; battered plinth to chancel. Tiered diagonal buttresses of large dressed stone blocks at SE and NE end in bulky finials with crockets; gargoyles at each corner; Perpendicular E window similar to nave; some lime render survives. N windows to chancel and chapel are 2- light square headed.

N side has similar windows on either side of later extensions. The church stands in a large roughly rectangular walled churchyard with main entrance and lychgate SW and additional entrance NE. Churchyard contains monuments of many locally important families, including the Brogdens, founders of C19 Porthcawl and the Knights, the Lords of the Manor, since neither Porthcawl nor Nottage had churches with cemeteries. Also contains graves of many sailors and rescuers drowned in the nearby Bristol Channel, including a group of 3 mid C19 headstones SW of the porch with discursive inscriptions and SE a headstone to James John and his two sons who were sea rescuers and drowned 1839.

Reason for Listing
Listed grade I as an important medieval church, not heavily restored, with much surviving medieval fabric and an especially rare medieval carved stone pulpit.

References
Higgins L, Newton Nottage and Porthcawl, 1968;
Morgan K E, Around Porthcawl, Archive Photograph Series, 1996, photographs from Porthcawl Museum and Historical Society;
Newman J, Glamorgan, Buildings of Wales series, 1995;
Church Guide, nd.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Notes:
In the centre of the old village of Newton with two sides of the rectangular churchyard fronting the village green; main access at WSW.

Source: Cadw

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.




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