Taken on by the Friends following its closure in 2002, St Eloi is a rare example of a surviving Arts and Crafts-influenced church by the architect John Coates Carter. The church was re-invented from fragmentary medieval ruins in 1926-7 and is characteristic of the architect’s later work in its use of indigenous materials and identifiably Welsh vernacular motifs.
The colourful reredos has recently been conserved by Perry Lithgow.
Architectural History of Llandeloy
St Eloi’s is a simple, two-cell, building with a humble exterior, but a beautiful and evocative interior. Adhering to SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) conservation principles the architect has restored the building to a pre-Reformation framework.
The space is dominated by the splendid rood loft, carved screen and simple pulpit, all standing against the west face of the medieval screen wall. Both fonts are of stone; one is preserved in situ, being built up from a few ancient stones discovered during excavation, the other – an octagonal one – stands on three rough steps that are for the most part medieval, described as ‘perfect’ when uncovered. There is a delightful stoup and two matching piscinas carved from grey slate.
The reredos is one of a group of similar painted dossals that Coates Carter designed for churches in Pembrokeshire – a rectangular wooden panel, painted with gesso and coloured with tempera, in a moulded frame crowned with elaborately carved cresting which incorporates some of the architect’s ‘hook’ sub-cusping. In contrast to all this care and expense, the open-backed bench pews could scarcely be more humble, or more appropriate.
The Friends are proud to be able to conserve this precious Welsh document of Arts and Crafts ecclesiology, design and craftsmanship.
This description is taken from a full history of the church, by Phil Thomas, published in the Transactions of our sister charity, the Ancient Monuments Society, Vol. 45, 2001 and available to order by contacting the office.
Do not go up the stairs leading to the rood screen.
When you go outside do look out for the “holy well” which can become overgrown (the churchyard is not the responsibility of the Friends).