A 12th century Pembrokeshire church is set to yield up its secrets, thanks to help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A grant of £340,000 will facilitate urgent repairs to St Jerome’s in Llangwm on the Cleddau Estuary.
But lifting the floor to install a new heating system will also allow archaeologists to undertake excavations that, it’s hoped, will reveal details of the church’s Flemish roots which date back to the Norman conquest.
Research has shown that St Jerome’s was built by Flemish craftsmen around 1200, but as with many old churches, its medieval features were stripped out by the Victorians.
- An effigy in the church is thought to be Sir David De La Roche
Heritage Llangwm team chair, Pam Hunt, who’s been leading the investigations, says Llangwm was the birthplace of the De La Roche dynasty, the family behind Roch Castle in north Pembrokeshire, who were descended from a Flemish nobleman called Godbert.
“It’s believed that Flemish nobles were invited to join the 1066 conquest because William of Normandy was married to Mathilda, the wealthy Princess of Flanders. But forty years later the Flemish were causing problems and William’s son Henry I ordered them to the far reaches of his kingdom, including Pembrokeshire”, said Pam.
“We hope to discover traces of the Flemish community, and also explore DNA evidence to find out if long-standing families from Llangwm have links with the original Flemish settlers – and if so, where in Flanders they came from”, she added.
The Head of HLF in Wales, Jennifer Stewart, Head of the HLF in Wales expressed her delight that the organisation had been able to award a grant to restore such an important church.
“Places of Worship are a strong, visual connection with our past and always tell a powerful, local story. The project will carry out crucial work to the building meaning that it can be enjoyed more widely throughout the community, and the research into its fascinating past will help to share St Jerome’s story with both local communities and visitors,” she said.