#MuseumFromHome – Day 209

Posted by Tenby Museum on Nov 4, 2020 Blog No Comments

Day 209 of our #MuseumFromHome project and today, after yesterday’s tragic tale, we look at a delightful pencil drawing by EJ Head of St Issell’s Church, Saundersfoot.

Edward Joseph Head (1863 – 1937) was a well-respected artist and teacher who held Art Classes in Tenby, He taught a young Augustus John and it was on his recommendation that Edwin, Augustus’ father, allowed his son to enrol at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1894.

St Issel or Issell (Welsh: Eussyllt or Usyllt) was a 6th-century Welsh saint principally notable as being the father of St Teilo.

The earliest surviving architectural feature of St Issell’s Church is the pointed chancel arch of the 13th century. The north arcade may be equally old. The tower is probably of the C14 or C15. The east window of The Lady Chapel by Kemp Tower depicts the Annunciation of Our Lady. The font with its carved bowl is amongst the finest Norman examples in the diocese, decorated with scroll patterns of unusual character. The medieval Preaching Cross in the Church grounds is in itself a grade II listed building (granted 1997).

In 1860 the Rev. James Dalton made an appeal for sufficient funds for a thorough restoration. The old church was deemed ‘cavernous’, low and unhealthy, and structurally unsound. Its box-pews were condemned. In the 1840s and 1850s only a £2.10s. Church-rate had been spent each year on repairs. The architect advised that only the tower was fit to retain. Work commenced in 1862 and was completed two years later. £1000 was spent on the rebuilding of the whole structure east of the tower, and £300 on additional seating. The architect, J R Kempson of Hereford, retained the old layout but it appears the floor level was raised. The church was opened again on 30th August 1864.

The form of the church was generally retained in the restoration, though there is conflicting evidence for the earlier form of the south aisle.

In 1910 a vestry extension was added to the north of the church, opposite to the chancel. The pews were renewed throughout. The porch doors and a flight of curved-plan steps were added in 1978 in memory of the third Lord Merthyr.

St Issell’s was granted Grade II listed status in 1971 as a “well detailed Victorian restoration of a medieval church retaining significant early elements.”