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Identified by The National Library of Wales as an 'Important part of Wales' documentary heritage' Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) - A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales as an 'Important part of Wales' documentary heritage'
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Maudlam Church - Parish of Pyle & Kenfig

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Kenfig History

Maudlam Church c.1907
St Mary Magdalene Church, Maudlam c.1907 view from South

Kenfig History & Community / Religion / Churches / Maudlam Church

Maudlam Church (Parish of Pyle & Kenfig)

The benefice of Pyle and Kenfig is a single parish benefice in the deanery of Margam - it is also known as Cynffig.

Maudlam Church dedicated to St.Mary Magdalene (Built c.1255)

Very little documentation exists on the origin of the church building with much of its story deduced from documents related to other events in the locality. It is believed the church was built between 1245 & 1266 with a decision to its founding as 1255. It celebrates its Patronal Festival on 22 July.
Maudlam Church dedicated to St.Mary Magdalene was built around the time of 1255 and celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2005. It is believed to have been built to serve the needs of the people of Kenfig who moved to higher ground in order to escape the effects of encroaching sand.

History of the Church

The story of Maudlam Church begins in the town of Kenfig with the now long forgotten St James' Church at Kenfig. St Mary Magdalene Church is closely linked with the borough of Kenfig and is officially described in the church records as St Mary Magdalene, Kenfig. Mawdlam or Maudlam is a corruption of Magdalene and the village name arises from the presence of the church. The church of St Mary Magdalene is first mentioned in a deed of the mid 13th century. The precise date of origin of the church cannot be determined but three of the witnesses to the deed are known to have been active between 1245 and 1282.

The Building

Maudlam Church building layout
Maudlam Church building layout
Sir Stephen Glynne visited Kenfig and in his notes he described the church of St Mary Magdalene as
"a rude church of the South Wales stamp, comprising a nave and chancel with a large coarse western tower to the west of which is attached a very large porch... the whole church is whitewashed externally, even the roof..."
In 1878 a petition for faculty descibed the church as in a dilapidated condition and unfit for services. The white wash rendering was removed revealing the stone, unfortunately the loss of protective layers of lime-wash eventually permitted water to penetrate the walls.
This caused considerable damage to the structure and the interior decoration especially in the tower. Included in the changes was moving the carved Norman tub font from the south west corner of the nave to its present position to make way for 28 more worshippers. In 1894 the chancel was completely rebuilt with funding from Miss Emily Charlotte Talbot of the Margam Estate, increasing its size and adding a vestry on the north side which in the 1930's was used, in part, to house a small wind organ.

The Church Tower

Maudlam Church Tower
The church has a squat perpendicular tower with a crenellated top and is decorated with gorbels on two sides. It houses a single bell cast in 1664 and embossed with the names of Edward Hopkins and Jenkin Howell, Church Wardens - it was re-hung in 1908.
The clock was installed in 1955 as a memorial to the fallen of the two world wars and was originally powered by a weight system. This has now been replaced by an electronically controlled drive. A tablet in the baptistry below the tower records the names of the fallen. The church tower is clearly visible from the sea and has served as a navigation landmark for mariners throughout the centuries and the church graveyard appears to house the village cross.

Some Parish Facts...

  • Maudlam Church isn't the parish church due to a consistory court, which met at Margam in 1485, deciding that this status be accorded to St.James' church, Pyle; even though the church of St.Mary Magdelen is some 200 years older.
  • Its dedication to St.Mary Magdelen was due to her festival date, July 22nd approximating that of St.James, patron saint of kenfig, which falls on July 25th.

Source: Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services / Parish of Pyle & Kenfig

The Church Font

Maudlam Church Font
The font in St Mary Magdalene Church, Maudlam is of early Norman origin with a distinctive fish-scale pattern all over and rope rim to its upper edge. The font occupies more than its fair share of space in the church with a theory that it was brought to Maudlam Church from the original St James' Church at Kenfig when that became inundated with sand.
A similar but smaller font can be seen in Llantwit Major church.

The Village Cross

The Village Cross
It was customary in medieval times for a cross to be erected in every village as it reminded the people of the Christian faith. The village cross enhanced the power and prestige of the church, the monks and the clergy.
It was a symbol of salvation and divine guidance and was expected when decisions were made within its shadow.
The tithe map of 1841 indicates that a field located at the junction of the present Kenfig road and the old Y Lane Fach, was known as Cae'r Groes (The field of the cross).

Consistory Court Case - 1485

The surviving Kenfig burgesses bitterly opposed the construction of the new church at Pyle, claiming that the one at Maudlam was older, stood within the enlarged boundary of the Borough and should therefore be accorded the status of being the parish church.

This dispute reached a climax in 1485 when the people of Pyle actually took the Burgesses to court and obtained an order forcing them to acknowledge the status of the new church. The dispute rumbled on for centuries and in 1810 a Vicar of the parish who just happened to be a burgess and who several times held the office of Portreeve, claimed that Maudlam was his parish church and Pyle merely its chapel of ease.

Local Treasures

Maudlam Church houses some important artefacts

  • Two pre-reformation mensae (altar slabs) reputedly from the old church of St.James, Kenfig.
  • The baptismal font constructed in Norman style with a fish scale and rope pattern, again reported to have come from St.James' church, Kenfig.
  • A stained glass window in memory of those who gave their lives in the Great 1914-18 War.
  • A memorial set into the south wall commemorates the earliest members of the Williams family to settle in the locality - Isaac Williams was the father of Elizabeth Williams (The Maid of Sker).

Incumbents - Pyle & Kenfig Parish (1154 AD to Present)


Name / Details

Henry Thusard - founder of the Church of Kenfig
Daniel & Richard, Priests of Kenfig
John, Priest of Kenfig
Stephen, Clerk of Kenfig
Thomas, Chaplain of Kenfig
Robert & John, Priests of Kenfig
Hugo, Vicar of Kenfig
Richard, Clerk of Kenfig
Gilbert of Sully, Vicar of Kenfig died
Walter Alured presented by the Abbot of Tewkesbury - succeeded above Gilbert
William, Clerk of Kenfig
John Bareth, Clerk of Kenfig
Philip, Clerk of Kenfig
Hugh, Vicar of Kenfig, Robert Presbyter
Robert of St Fagan's, Vicar
Nicholas de Sherlake, Vicar
John Tudor, Vicar
Sir John Stradling, Vicar
Griffith ap Lefen, Vicar
Robert Thomas
Philip Grant
Richard Rees
William Lloyd M.A.
John Howard (or Hayward)
John Butler
William Jones
William Lewis
John Thomas (Described as Curate of Pyle & Newton Nottage)
John Williams
John Walters, Lexicographer
John Williams (died 1794)
John Hunt LI.D.
John Morgan
Richard Williams
William Williams
John Banks Price
Walter Evans
Daniel Evans
John N Evans
Watkin Davies
W Pascal Davies
John Tyssul Evans
Thomas Melville Jones
John Bangor Davies
David John Arthur
D Godfrey Samuel
David Davies
J Chalk
P G White
Erle Hastey
Ian Rees
Dr Duncan Walker
Source: The Parish of Pyle & Kenfig


History of Kenfig & surrounding areas - Prehistory to the Present Day


  • Bronze / Iron Ages & Roman Era
  • The Monastic Era (1147-1536)
  • The Mansel Era (1536-1750)
  • Talbot Era (1750-1941)
  • War Years / Sir David Evans-Bevan
  • The County Council Years


    Online Resources

    Further Info



    • Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services
    • The Story of Kenfig Book - A. Leslie Evans
    • The Parish of Pyle & Kenfig
    • Rob Bowen, Local Community Group

    Webpage Author

    • Rob Bowen, Local Community Group, 2011

    Maudlam Church (Built c.1255)

    Maudlam Church built c.1255

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