THE PARISH OF

PORTHKERRY

   RHOOSE

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&

The History of

St Curig's Church

We, the congregation of St Curig's know all too well that we are merely custodians of this lovely old church. Here to do our bit to preserve it for future generations to enjoy. But as with all buildings of this age, the work of renovating, repairing, restoring, maintaining and protecting is a never ending cycle of works and bills. Most recently we had to rebuild our organ (click here to see more on this). We will shortly begin work on reroofing The Lychgate, which is an historic monument in its own right, and like the organ was built as a memorial to the local men who lost their lives in World War I. And further ahead of that we have already scheduled repairs to leaky windows and a new coat of lime wash on the outer walls.

The Lychgate

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This page was researched and written by

Graham Loveluck-Edwards and Jon Williams

Wardens at St Curig's Porthkerry

email: graham.loveluck-edwards@yell.com

Tel: 01446 623309

WHO WAS ST CURIG?

St Curig was a 7th Century Welsh Bishop. He was described as “Celtic” in contemporary chronicles but was probably not Welsh. And he ended his days in the ministry of St Pol de Leon in Brittany (Northern France). There is a legend that he saw a vision of a radiance of light around Curig's head that persuaded him that he was the man for the job.

St Curig first came to Wales towards the latter part of the Roman period. He is reputed to have landed at Aberystwyth and to have established an ancient church in Snowdonia in the village called “Capel Curig” in his memory to this day (allegedly the wettest place in the British Isles).

 

According to the famous Welsh chronicler Gerald of Wales, he is said to have carried a be-jewelled staff that had healing properties; especially for skin complaints and boils. And that after his death it was kept as a relic for pilgrims to pray at, in St Harmon’s Monastery near Brecon.

 

To be canonised, all saints need some testimony to the performance of miracles. And St Curig’s were more about punishing wrong doers than anything else and in particular he seemed to favour making things stick to people! Thieves who stole food from his church were said to have had their fingers stuck tight to the baskets they had stolen which made the job of apprehending them rather easy; He is also said to have seen a man cutting rushes on a Sunday and as working on the Sabbath is a direct breach of one of Moses’ 10 commandments, St Curig made all the rushes stick to his face until he had paid his penance.

When sticking things to people had clearly become a bit passe to our saint, he moved onto temporarily incapacitating them. He is supposed to have turned a thief blind until he had truly repented for his sin, at which point his sight was restored. And he is also supposed to have paralysed a woman’s limbs for doing laundry on the Sabbath. Which sounds a bit harsh in its own right, but the legend goes on to say that she also had to give him a plot of land to build a church on before she was deemed to have repented and was cured.

St Curig

A Stained glass window at St Curig's Porthkeerry depicting an image of St Curig.

John Wesley 's connection to St Curig's Church Porthkerry.

John Wesley preached on several occasions at Porthkerry, as listed in his diaries:

Monday Oct 19th 1741:I preached once more at Porthkerry and in the afternoon returned to Cardiff and explained to a large congregation “When they had nothing to pay He frankly forgave them both”.

Sunday Oct. 2nd 1743:Fearing my strength would not suffice for preaching more than 4 times in the day, I only spent half an hour in prayer with the society in the morning at 7 and in the evening I preached in the Castle, at 11 in Wenvoe Church and in the afternoon in Porthkerry Church on “Repent ye and believe the Gospel”.

Monday Oct 19th 1741:I preached once more at Porthkerry and in the afternoon returned to Cardiff and explained to a large congregation “When they had nothing to pay He frankly forgave them both”.

 

Sunday Oct. 2nd 1743:Fearing my strength would not suffice for preaching more than 4 times in the day, I only spent half an hour in prayer with the society in the morning at 7 and in the evening I preached in the Castle, at 11 in Wenvoe Church and in the afternoon in Porthkerry Church on “Repent ye and believe the Gospel”.

Tuesday Oct 6th 1741:I read prayers and preached at Porthkerry Church. My text was “By grace are ye saved through faith”.

 

Sunday Oct 18th 1741:I rode to Wenvoe. The Church was thoroughly filled with attentive hearers, while I preached on those words “Whom ye ignorantly worship Him declare I unto you”. In the afternoon I read prayers and preached at Porthkerry; in the evening there was a great concourse of people at the castle, to whom I strongly declared “The hope of righteousness which is through faith”.

The Church was extensively restored in 1867 when the wall between the nave and chancel was rebuilt and the chancel arch rebuilt in brick. The old chancel screen has the bottom panels in linen-fold carving. At the 1867 restoration, the thatched roof of the Church was replaced with slate, a vestry was added and the old box pews replaced with the present open type.  The organ was erected as a 1914-1918 war memorial as was the lych gate. The combined pulpit and reading desk were given in 1954.

Built into the north wall is a fine monumental stone, which has recently (2014) undergone extensive conservation treatment to prevent further erosion of the stonework. Some six feet in length, the inscription reads:

More about Our Church and Yard...

Heere lieth the bodie of Reynolde Portrey Esqvier

Deceased the 24 day of Febraii in AD 1629 havinge

Lyved 63 terres who in his life time cvred many

Of severalle infirmities without rewarde. He leafe living

Iohan his loving wieffe who casved to be set vp and

Desires to be heire also interred when she dieth. They

Had ysse on son Alesander and two davghters.

This monument is remarkable for the excellence of its lettering and for the craftsman’s fine disregard for spelling. It is a pity that later deaths in the family were recorded on the same stone in such a haphazard fashion.

In the churchyard is a 15th century ornamental cross, with a stone shaft – eight feet in height and surmounted by a sculptured top. This top portion, which depicted the Virgin and Child was blown down in a gale in 1874 and was not replaced for many years, it is now much worn. A simple headstone in the churchyard tells of the Church’s situation overlooking the sea; it bears the inscription ”A seafaring Man –Found drowned – 1868”.

Porthkerry Church Floorplan

Want to know more about the history of the village of Porthkerry? Who were its most famous sons? Its Roman Past? The tsunami that devastated it? Click here...

QUICK LINKS

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See how our organ restoraion is coming on. Click here.

Learn more about bell ringing at Porthkerry and other nearby churches. Click here

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See also...

If you are browsing this site using a mobile phone, please click the link below to call our Vicar in Charge; Melanie Prince or dial 01446 719724.

The Service Tree - A rare species discovered at Porthkerry. Click here