CarmarthenshireFERRYSIDEStIshmael(cisco66CC-BY-SA3.0)1 Cisco66

St Ishmael

Perched on the side of a hill overlooking the estuary of the River Towy and the magnificent sweep of Carmarthen Bay, this church has been a place of worship for more than a thousand years, and a chapel of ease for pilgrims on the route to St David’s in Pembrokeshire.

Ferryside, Carmarthenshire

Opening times

Weekends during summer. Every Sunday morning.


SA17 5UL

The church includes a 13th century nave and chancel, 14th century transcept and 15th century north aisle. The tower is a later addition and may have been lowered at some point following storm damage. There is a sundial over the entrance dated 1725.

The inside of the church is larger than appears from outside and is quite plain with just a few memorial tablets and marked burials. There are possibly burial vaults beneath the floor. A display in the vestry tells of the church’s association with the Rebecca Riots of 1843.

The church is 40 metres from high water mark, and 400 metres away to the south west buried in sand is what might have been the original settlement served by the church. Excavations have been carried out from time to time when the shifting sands have allowed, but no definite conclusions have been reached as to its age. It is suggested that the great flood of 1607/8 (possibly a tsunami) was responsible for its disappearance.

The graveyard was a great source of interest not least because facing towards the east as most of the headstones do, they have not been subject to the scouring action of the west wind, and even older inscriptions are legible. An important 19th century tomb is that of Hugh Williams, the radical lawyer who sympathised with the Chartists and Rebecca Rioters: the grave is shared with his brother, William Williams, who served as a Lieutenant in the Brazilian Navy.

  • Wildlife haven

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Social heritage stories

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Church in Wales

Contact information

Other nearby churches

St Martin

Laugharne, Carmarthenshire

Thousands of people come here every year to see the grave of poet Dylan Thomas, marked by a simple white cross.