The village of Llanrhidian is located on the northern coast of the Gower peninsula overlooking the Loughor estuary and Burry inlet. The village nestles on the side of a limestone escarpment that leads down to the salt marsh. There are spectacular panoramic estuary views from various locations within the village. The centre of the village is located at the foot of the escarpment and is a designated conservation area. Located within the conservation area are some of the oldest buildings in the village. These include the Norman church, dedicated to Saint Rhidian and Saint Illtyd, The welcome to Town public house and the water mill. The surrounding landscape is primarily agricultural in nature. Llanrhidian is the parochial centre of the local area that encompasses a number of hamlets and remote farms. The 2001 census reveals that the parish had 207 households and a population of 537.
Llanrhidian’s Key Features
- Conservation Area
- Virtually no through traffic
- tranquil with rural views
- 14th century church
- Shop & two pubs
- Wales coast path
Archaeological evidence shows that Lanrhidian was first settled in the prehistoric period and there is documentary evidence that shows a well established Christian settlement during the early medieval period. The first church was established by St Rhidian in the 6th century, and later dedicated to St Illtyd. Part of the present building dates from the 13th century and the chancel and the tower are thought to have been added in the 14th century. The unusual massive construction of the tower, which includes at its top a base for a beacon fire, suggests construction at a time when defence was paramount. During the 19th and early 20th century the nave was rebuilt (1855-185) and the chancel was refurbished (1899-1901).
An ancient carved stone known as the Leper stone can be found inside the church’s porch.
It was found near the tower in 1865 and moved to its present location in 1910. There is some conjecture about its origins and some believe that it may be of Viking origin and possibly a “Hog’s Back” tomb covering. It dates to the 9th or 10th century and it is most probably a lintel from the original pre-Norman church.
Set into the church’s gate post are two memorial plaques from the lost village of Llanelen which are perhaps best left untouched given their reputation for being cursed. The story goes that in the 17th century the villagers went to the aid of seven surviving sailors stranded when their vessel foundered on Gower coast. Unfortunately the sailors were infected with plague which spread and wiped out the entire village population.
Apart from the church, many of the other older buildings in Llanrhidian can trace their origins back to medieval times. These include the water mills, the Welcome to Town and the Dolphin Inn.
Records show that milling at Nether Mill (rebuilt 1803) was carried out as early as 1323. The woollen mill at Staffel Haegr is thought to have started operating in 1820.
Limestone quarrying and lime production in Llanrhidian dates to the 17th century. There are two quarry sites, a small one in the hillside behind Hill House and a larger one (almost directly above) on top of Llanrhidian hill.
The Swansea and Gower section of the Wales coast path runs through the lower part of the village. It follows the route of the marsh road from Crofty. It enters the village at Parry’s Cross and continues along an unnamed lane around Hill House and westward towards Stafel Haggar.
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