Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833)
NEVERN, a parish in the hundred of KEMMES, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 2 miles (E.N.E.) from Newport, and 8 (S.W. by W.) from Cardigan, which is the post town, containing 1558 inhabitants. This place derives its name from the river Nevern, so called from the Welsh Niver, "a number," on account of its being formed by the union of numerous rivulets which intersect the parish, and flow together in one considerable stream into St. George's channel. Martin de Tours, a Norman knight, who, having attended Williarn the Conqueror, was rewarded for his services by a grant of territory on the coast of Devonshire embarked an expedition for the invasion of such parts of the principality as he might find most easily assailable, landed his troops at Fishguard, and made himself master of the lordship of Kemmes. For the protection of his newly acquired territory, which became one of the lordships marcher, he, either erected a fortress at this place, or strengthened one previously built, which he made his residence, and which descended to his son William, who, having strengthened his interest by marrying the daughter of Rhys ab Grufydd, abandoned this seat of his father, called Llanhyvor castle, of which there are some remains on a hill above the church, for one which he had built on a more magnificent scale at Newport. This parish, which is very large, extending from the sea to the foot of the Precelly mountains, is situated on the shore of Cardigan bay, in a beautifully diversified and fertile district, and comprehends some of the most picturesque and romantic scenery in the county of Pembroke, being intersected by a deep wooded dingle, through which flows the Nevern, the banks of which are occasionally formed into rocks of fantastic character, while in the lower part, near Newport bay, stands the village: the prospects from the higher grounds are also pleasing and extensive. The high road from Newport to Cardigan passes near it, and by far the greater portion of the parish is enclosed and cultivated. The coast is generally bold and in some parts precipitous, with a good depth of water close to the shore. Here were formerly several ancient mansions, inhabited by some of the most opulent families in the county: but, with very few exceptions, they have been abandoned by their proprietors, and are at present in the occupation of tenants . Llwyngwair, the seat of George Bowen, Esq., is an elegant mansion, pleasantly situated on the margin of the river Nevern, and nearly within a mile of its mouth. Near it is Burry, the residence of the female branches of the same family. Cwmgloyn is the property of Maurice Williams, Esq.; and Hênllys, once the residence of the ancient lords of Kemmes, and still the property of their representative, Thomas Lloyd, Esq., of Bronwydd, is now occupied by a tenant: it was the residence of that distinguished antiquary and scholar George Owen, lord of Kemmes, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St, David's, rated in the king's books at £8, and in the patronage of the King, as Prince of Wales. The advowson, which was once appendant to the lordship of Kemmes, was alienated by deed, bearing date 1347, to Bishop Hoton, who appropriated it to his new college of St. Mary at St. David's, from which, on the suppression of religious houses, it reverted to the crown. The church is said to have been originally founded in the sixth century, by St. Brynach, or Byrnach, to whom it is dedicated, and rebuilt by some of the Norman lords of Kemmes: the present is an ancient and venerable structure, in the Norman style of architecture. In the churchyard, to the south of the porch, there is the shaft of an ancient British cross, elaborately wrought, and bearing an inscription near the centre, which is almost obliterated: it consists of a single stone, thirteen feet high, two feet broad, and eight feet thick, with a circular top charged with a cross, and carved on all sides with other crosses, and knots of various shapes. On the north side of the churchyard was another stone, six feet high, with the inscription "VITATIANI EMERITI," but this has been for some time removed. In the hamlet of Kîlgwin, in this parish, there is a chapel of case, dedicated to St. Mary. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic Methodists. Mr. Rogers bequeathed £800 in the three per cents. to the poor, the dividends arising from which are annually distributed in barley and beef on the 21st of December. Near Pentre Evan, in this parish, are the remains of one of the largest cromlechs in the principality: the table stone is eighteen feet in length and nine feet wide, and is supported on three coarse upright stones, from seven to eight feet high: it is considered not to be surpassed in size and height by any other Druidical monument in Wales or England, except Stonehenge and Abury. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £573. 6.
The Religious census of 1851 : A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1,South Wales.
Ed. by I.G Jones, & D. Williams. UWP, Cardiff, 1976.
A partial extract
Nevern Church, dedicated to St. Brynach, a Welsh Saint, of the 6th century, and a contemporary of St. David. The architecture was Norman originally. In 1809 a few of the Gothic were replaced by modern (or parlour) windows. In 1819 the entire of the remaining windows were replaced in like manner, the roof ceiled, etc. In the south wall is the following notice: "The Body of the Church rebuilt A.D. 1819. The Rev. Dd. Griffiths Vicar, J. E. Evans, Esq., E. W. Jones, Esq., W. Symonds, Gent., Mr. Vaughan, Church-wardens".
Nevern Village consists of only six small Cottages, Parsonage and the Church. N.B. Within the circuit of one quarter of a mile from the Church are Eleven cottages, one Mill and one Farm. The remaining Cottages and Farm house are distant from the Church from about one mile and upwards, as far, at least, as six miles. The parish is mountainous and the Population scattered, and their living at a great distance from the Church is the reason why there is only morning service on Sundays (every Sunday at ten o'clock in the morning), Christmas Day, Good Friday, etc. The Congregations in the Church are larger or smaller according to the state of the weather. In dry weather especially on Sacrament Sunday the congregation amounts to 300 on an average. The number of communicants is upwards of 100 monthly.
John Jones, M.A. Vicar.
NB. The Lay Impropriator, who does not reside in the Parish, contributes nothing towards the spiritual wants of the Parishioners, save and except a few Bottles of Wine at Easter, which he, as well as the Vicar, in conformity to an old custom, gives for the Table of the Lord's Supper.
The Parish of Nevern is divided into Four Quarters, or Districts, called Morfa Quarter, Crugiau Quarter, Trewern Quarter and Kilgwyn Quarter. In each of which Quarters there was formerly a church or chapel, belonging to private Families, but recognizing Nevern as being the mother or Parish Church. None of these Chapels now remain, save and except Kilgwyn, which has never been endowed, and over which the Bishop of the Diocese has not, it is said, any jurisdiction, as over the mother or Nevern Church. The Registrar of the Diocese can find no account of Kilgwyn Church among the Papers in his Registry, and the Churchwardens of Nevern Parish maintain that they have no right to contribute from the Church Rates towards keeping Kilgwyn Church in repairs. There is at present no private Family, or Mansion, claiming possession of the Church. It would be a great blessing to Kilgwyn Quarter if the Church was endowed and a Clergyman appointed to it. The shell of the building is in good repairs, it having been lately repaired by public subscriptions; but the inside is destitute of Pews, Forms, etc. a few Benches only and a wretched Pulpit and a Reading Desk are its present furniture.
John Jones, M.A.
Vicar of Nevern. 2lst April 1851.
[on an attached sheet.]
There ought to be a District Church in each of the Four Quarters into which the Parish is divided. The Parish is so extensive that the distant inhabitants cannot attend their Parish Church. They would be living the lives of heathens had not the Dissenters built Chapels in different parts of the Parish, of which there are six Chapels. Those who attend New Nevern Church in the morning attend Chapel in their different localities in the evening.
Gareth Hicks, 2 March 2006