An ancient Pembrokeshire church has welcomed its final congregation to bring 1,000 years of worship in the building to a close.

St Madoc of Ferns will no longer hold services.

The church, located in Haroldston West, held its last service yesterday, Sunday, July 31, with every pew full and churchgoers singing their hearts out. 

However it is not the end for the church – which was at risk of having its roof removed to become a safe ruin.

Now St Madoc's will be run by St Madoc of Ferns Community Trust, which will look to maintain public access to the church and use the venue for the benefit of the Haven community.

Our sister title, Western Telegraph, was at the final service where Reverend David Mortimer presided in front of a full congregation, including former priests who served at the church, and afterwards everyone came together for cake and coffee.

One of those in attendance was a stalwart of the church, Diana Thomas.

Diana was the last churchwarden, but St Madoc's means so much more to her with momentous events in her life - her marriage, the marriage of her daughter and the burial of her first husband - all happening at the church.

The National Wales: A great number turned out for the final serviceA great number turned out for the final service

Diana had a smile on her face seeing the numbers that turned out, but there was a tinge of longing for things to have been different.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Diana. “The numbers have just dropped away and it’s become impossible to run, but I am glad someone is going to keep the church going rather than let it fall into rack and ruin.”

People came from as far afield as Shropshire to attend the service, which also welcomed the chairman of the newly formed St Madoc of Ferns Community Trust. 

 Richard Baker made a speech to the congregation where he explained the aims of the trust.

The National Wales: Former reverends attended the service including Canon John Davies who used to preside at St Madocs in the 80sFormer reverends attended the service including Canon John Davies who used to preside at St Madocs in the 80s

“We are in dialogue with the Church in Wales to take over the running of the church,” said Mr Baker.

“A meeting at Little Haven revealed a deep well of good for the church, and since then a small group of people have been meeting to discuss how to keep the church alive.

“I have always loved this church since I first came here ten or so years ago. So it came as a great shock to learn that it was closing.

“We have a mountain to climb and we’ll do it one step at a time.”

St Madoc of Ferns Community Trust aims:

  1. Preserve St Madoc of Ferns for public access and the benefit of the Havens community.
  2. Educate and inform the Havens community and visitors to the area of the history of St Madoc of Ferns Church, and the story of St Madoc.
  3. Promote visits to, and the use of the building, for historical education, art, entertainment or other purposes by the local community in the Havens, and by visitors to the area.
  4. Collaborate with organisations in the UK and Ireland, concerned with St Madoc, St David and the historic or spiritual pilgrimage routes in Wales, and to promote St Madoc of Ferns Church as a faith tourism location.

The National Wales: Diana Thomas (centre left) who alerted people of the closure said she was glad the church was being taken care of in the futureDiana Thomas (centre left) who alerted people of the closure said she was glad the church was being taken care of in the future

Also in attendance was Canon John Davies, who was at St Madoc's between 1982 and 1989.

The clergyman said he could see why the church was closing.

The National Wales: The final service was held on July 31The final service was held on July 31

“When I was here the church was full, including with kids,” said Rev. Davies. “But children grow up, parents grow old, people die, houses are sold.

“In my heart I am sad, in my head I am accepting. It is not the same as it was before, but the church ministers to a fluid community which is always changing and the church must be where the people are.”