Llangwm church has one of the most spectacular rood screens in south Wales. As well as the usual vine-leaf trails, the tracery has an unusually airy lightness and there is a great variety of decoration on the panels and bosses.
There are three ‘green men’ on the imposts of the chancel arch, carved heads with foliage issuing from their mouths. It may seem strange to see such emphatically pagan symbolism in a Christian church, though it is not perhaps as strange as the female fertility figures which sometimes appear in church decorations. There is some old painted glass in the south wall of the nave.
There is also a splendid embattled tower, unusually situated to the north of the chancel, with three seventeenth-century bells. The ground floor of the tower was used as a side chapel, but the squint in its angle does not really provide a view of the high altar.
The little stoup with its interlace ornament is sometimes claimed to be Celtic but is probably post-Conquest. It was found built into the wall during restoration work. In the churchyard is an intriguing gravestone with delightful naive carvings of Adam and Eve.
Buried in the chancel of the church, though no memorial to him survives, is Walter Cradock, the seventeenth-century Independent divine. Cradock came from Trefela, on the slopes of the Golden Hill to the south of Llangwm. When he was curate of St Mary’s, Cardiff, he and his vicar William Erbury (one of the most radical theologians of the 17th century) took a determined stand against the ‘Book of Sports’, which allowed certain amusements on Sundays. He lost his post and moved to north Wales for a while, then returned to Llanfaches to help William Wroth found the first Independent church in Wales. He preached the celebratory sermon in Parliament on the fall of Charles I’s headquarters in Oxford in 1646 and subsequently became one of the Parliament’s advisory group on public preaching. He died at Trefela in 1659, escaping by a year the Restoration and the reversal of all he had worked for.
More on the Llangwm and District Community Website.