Nolton is a village and parish on the coast of St Brides Bay, five-and-a-half miles west of Haverfordwest. The name was originally Old-tun and this, together with the dedication of the church to St Madoc, suggests that the place was a pre-existing Welsh settlement appropriated by English immigrants around the time of the Norman Conquest.
St Madoc’s is a medieval church with a fifteenth-century porch that is nearly identical to that of St Mary’s, Roch. The link is that both churches were established by the de Rupe or de Roche family, of Roch Castle, and the Benedictine monks of Pill Priory, Milford. St Madoc’s was much restored in 1876-7 by EH Lingen Barker. The old walls were kept, except for the south wall of the porch and part of east end wall. A new vestry was added. All the windows were replaced with stone tracery, having been sashes, and the bellcote was rebuilt. The roofs were rebuilt to a steeper pitch and the interior was refitted, retaining the font and monuments. The restoration cost £411.
St Madoc’s is a Grade Two listed building. The principal reason for its listing is the medieval fabric of the church, especially the fine vaulted south porch and the carved medieval corbels (a corbel is a structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight).
- A mile away from Nolton is Nolton Haven, a narrow inlet which ends in a sandy beach. Nolton Haven United Reformed Church, the Chapel by the Sea, is a grey stone chapel perched on a craggy cliff overlooking the beach at Nolton Haven. It is believed to be the most westerly place of worship for the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom.
- Nolton Haven was once the centre of a thriving coal-mining enterprise, and between 1850 and 1905 several local collieries exploited the seams of anthracite running out under the sea.
- EH Lingen Barker was the St Davids Diocesan architect between 1870 and 1875 and undertook small-scale restorations of small churches in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire during that period and after.
- Prince Madoc, the Pilgrim, born around 498, was the son of King Sawyl Penuchel (the Arrogant) of the Southern Pennines by his first wife, the daughter of King Muiredach of Ulster. As such, he was brought up at his grandfather’s Irish court where he became interested in the Christian religion. He was educated in Leinster before travelling across the Irish Sea to Glyn Rhosyn to study the scriptures under St Dewi (David). He was later taught by St Cennydd at Llangennith and founded the church at nearby Llanmadoc on the Gower Peninsula. Madoc was well known for his kindness to the poor and often gave away his food and clothes to them, while he himself lived on bread and water. Upon St Dewi’s death, Madoc became the Abbot of Glyn Rhosyn, but later returned to Ireland to found famous monasteries such as Ferns, Drumlane, Rossinver and Clonmore. He died in extreme old age on a visit to St. Davids on 31st January, or 25th April, 626. His body was then taken back to Ireland for burial. His relics can still be seen in Armagh Cathedral and in the National Museum of Ireland.
Nolton: Church of St Madoc
Haverfordwest, SA62 3NW
Rev Diana Hoare: 01437 721205
Rev Canon Michael Rowlands: 01348 831382