church of St mary the virgin, angle

Services & directions

Weekly Services

9.30am every Sunday

Angle Village, Angle, Pembroke, Sir Benfro, Wales SA71 5AP, United Kingdom

01646 563574

About St Mary's

St Mary's has stood at the heart of the village of Angle since the 14th century, and is still central in the life of the community today. We are a small but friendly community of believers who meet weekly at 9.30am.
Our services range from traditional liturgy with the organ to informal family services with songs on the guitar.

The church is open daily during daylight hours throughout the year.

Church History

In medieval times there were three churches in Angle: St Anthony's at West Angle Bay (which seems to have fallen over the cliffs around 1500), St Mary's at Chapel Bay and the present St Mary's which lies in the centre of the village.  The remains of the churchyard at West Angle Bay can still be seen as lead lined medieval graves still tumble over the cliff top from time to time.

The present church was probably built in the 14th century - the chancel, north transept and south porch are all that remain of the original structure. The tower was probably added in the 15th century.  R K Penson, who worked closely on some other south Wales buildings with Capability Brown, restored the Church in the 19th century.  The church was original cruciform in shape but the south transept was in such a state of disrepair that it was decided to take it down at the time of the restoration.

Notable features today include its fine Norman font and its 19th century stained glass windows.  The north transept also contains a fine old monument of the ancient families of Dawes and Ferrers who lived at Bangeston Castle, whose ruins can be found halfway up Combes Hill rising from Angle Bay.

The Seamans Chapel

This tiny chapel lies in the medieval churchyard behind the church beside the salt marsh/creek, which runs up from the Angle Bay arm of the Milford Haven.  It is dedicated to St Anthony and was founded by Edward de Shirburn, Knight of Nangle in AD 1447.

There is an effigy, probably of de Shirburn to the left hand side of the doorway. Tiles around the plain stone altar are of the same pattern as those in St Davids Cathedral. Behind the altar there is a recently restored reredos depicting Christ on the Cross wearing His High Priestly Robes (of the Order of Melchizedek, symbolising his eternal love and care) overlooking early 20th Century Angle life, with fishermen on the beach, farmers in their fields, children playing, sailing ships going up the Haven, the church and the chapel and two guardian angels on either side of the scene.  Across the scene runs the text "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me".

Underneath the chapel lies a crypt, which was used until the early 20th century to house the many bodies washed ashore along the local coastline. The 19th century Burial Register records many instances of the burial of unknown persons "drowned".

The Churchyard

There are two churchyards in Angle - the medieval churchyard surrounding the church and a large modem one on the opposite side of the road overlooking the football field.  In the old churchyard there is a medieval preaching cross, containing three steps, surmounted by a socket stone and a small modem cross with octagonal shaft and arms.

There is also an unmarked area set aside for the burial of a large number of Japanese sailors drowned when their ship sank off West Angle Bay during the First World War.  A substantial proportion of the graves are unmarked, indicative of the fact that the families concerned could not afford headstones. 

The Village

Angle is a former fishing village situated at the head of the Milford Haven ten miles south east of Pembroke.  Its ancient name was Nangle, derived from in angulo, meaning "in a nook".  Its population in 1831 was 458 but has since fallen to 232 in 2003.

Angle's prominent position probably means that it's history long predates that which is recorded.  After the Norman Conquest Angle became part of the earldom of Pembroke and was constituted a "Knight's Fee" (a feudal unit) under the Marcher Lordship of Pembroke.   Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) held the living as Rector of Angle Church circa 1200.

The village of Angle is linear, being primarily a single street which runs east/west from Angle Bay in the Milford Haven Estuary to West Angle Bay at the entrance of the Haven to the Bristol Channel.  Medieval strip fields can still be seen behind the village.

Many medieval buildings survive in the village, among them The Tower House, on the site of the ancient castle, a dovecote, a mysterious building sometimes known as "The Priory" otherwise known as "The Almshouse", the Church and the Seamen's Chapel.

Present day Angle is noted for its beautiful beach at West Angle Bay; its surfing beach at Freshwater West, its Napoleonic Fort on Thorn Island off West Angle Bay and its flat roof houses built at the turn of the 20th century by the philanthropic Colonel Mirehouse.  His ancestor John Mirehouse was a notable agricultural improver who purchased The Hall at Angle shortly after 1800 after setting up a model farm at Brownslade, Castlemartin. His descendants still live at The Hall today.

The RNLI is a notable institution in the village and the local lifeboats (inshore and offshore) have been involved in many heroic rescues (including in recent years a herd of cows that fell into the sea over the cliffs).