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St Lawrence: Church of St Lawrence

St Lawrence is a twelfth-century church nestled on the outside of Welsh Hook near Wolfscastle and Letterston. It has justly been described as ‘a lovely, ancient church in the rural heart of Pembrokeshire’ and as a ‘spiritual place of peace and prayer’. St Lawrence is off the standard tourist trail so does not attract as many visitors as some of the other churches in our local ministry area, but the church is well worth a visit; and we would, of course, be delighted to see you at a Sunday morning service.

St Lawrence is substantially a small medieval church. As with many Anglican churches, it was restored in the second half of the nineteenth century, but retains various medieval features, such as the twelfth century font and a Celtic cross from the tenth or eleventh century. Interestingly, in 1859 the condition of the church was recorded as ‘not good’, but just three years earlier in 1856 a substantial, and expensive, new rectory, opposite the church, had been built for the vicar. This mid-Victorian rectory, but built in a late-Georgian style, is now, along with the church, a listed building.

There are two fine plaques in the church, created by Greenways of Bristol, the first to John Wogan of Stone Hall and his descendants up to William Ford (died 1793), and the other to John Protheroe of Egremont and later Stone Hall (died 1807). These are the kind of substantial land-owning gentry families who were perhaps the strongest supporters of Anglicanism in largely non-conformist Wales.

  • Wogan is a name that one encounters repeatedly in Pembrokeshire history. The Wogan recorded on the plaque in St Lawrence’s is Sir John Wogan (1480-1557) a Welsh politician. He was the son of John Wogan, of Wiston, and his wife Ann. He was a Gentleman Usher between 1513 (when he fought in France) and 1530. He was subsequently appointed High Sheriff of Cardiganshire and High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire. He was elected MP for Pembrokeshire in 1545 and October 1553. He married Jane, the daughter and heiress of William Philip ap Gwilym of Stone Hall, with whom he had four sons and twelve daughters. He was succeeded by his grandson John Wogan.
  • Stone Hall, an imposing gentry house, remained in the Wogan family until the seventeenth century when it passed by marriage to the Fords of Crewkerne, Somerset. William Ford died in 1793 the estate passing to the Revd William Ford Protheroe, who died much in debt in 1823. Subsequent occupants included Thomas Bowen, John Entwistle Peel, who sold in 1873 to the Revd Edward Peacock, then around 1900 the Revd Murray Mathew, author of The Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands (1904), and in 1926 George Seton. Stone Hall was converted to an hotel in 1984.
  • Stone Hall is now for sale at just under a million pounds. According to Historic Pembrokeshire Homes and their Families, by Francis Jones, Wales Herald at Arms: ‘Stone Hall provides an example of a traditional residence of the older Welsh gentry, and fortunately has escaped the fate that overtook so many country houses in Pembrokeshire, mainly during the 19th century when they were transformed from modest, but adequate, accommodation into grand edifices which by today have become too burdensome to maintain’ The book goes on to say that it is believed that the property was ‘built for accommodating the household of a country gentleman mainly occupied with estate and farming concerns and local administration’.

Contact:
St Lawrence: Church of St Lawrence
Wolfscastle
Haverfordwest, SA62 5NB

Rev Diana Hoare: 01437 721205
Rev Canon Michael Rowlands: 01348 831382
stlawrence@gdlmachurches.co.uk

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