St Gwendolines Church

St Gwendolines Church, Talgarth

The longevity of many places of worship, particularly churches, makes them rich sources of  historical record. St Gwendolines Church in Talgarth is no exception. Located at the top of ‘High Town’ the present stone building, although heavily restored, particularly during Victorian times, dates from around the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries and the water stoup in the entrance porch is reckoned to be the original of that time. The tower was added some 100 years later. However, the present church stands on what were undoubtedly earlier places of worship.

The church is dedicated to the daughter  (possibly a granddaughter) of Brychan, a former King/Chief of Brycheiniog, Gwendoline was believed to have been killed by Saxons at Talgarth in the 8th century.

From a famous daughter to a famous son, and Talgarth’s most renowned ‘religious son’ is Howel Harris, arguably the founder of Methodism in Wales. It is reputed that some 20000 people attended Howell Harris’ funeral and Harris is buried within the church, not the churchyard. However, there is a certain irony with respect to his memorial which includes the words, A faithful member of the Church of England.  This is despite the fact that Harris, being a member of the Methodist Church, was never allowed to preach within St. Gwendolines as he was never ordained within the Church of England. Instead, on Sunday mornings, he would stand on his parents’ tomb, which is located in the St Gwendolines’ churchyard and preach his sermons to the gathered throng.