Most recent authorities agree that the nave and chancel of the present church of St Winifred, Manaton, were built early in the fifteenth century. To them were added the north and south aisles late in that century and the tower, which houses three bells at least as old as, or older than, itself, was added either with the aisles, or not long after.
The Roodscreen, believed to have been new around 1500, has been most carefully cleaned and conserved by an expert in this work, Miss Anna Hulbert. In her report she wrote, “This splendid screen was still very new when the Reformation brought drastic changes to the church all over western Europe”. On 21st February 1548 the Privy Council wrote to Cranmer ordering him to see that all superstitious images in churches in every diocese were taken down, defaced or whitewashed over. It was probably at this date that someone took a carpenter’s gouge and removed the faces from the saints along the bottom of the screen.
Unfortunately no reference to the service of dedication of any church at Manaton has yet come to light but the church is accepted as being dedicated to St Winifred, one of only two churches in the diocese so dedicated. St Winifred lived in the seventh century in Wales and had been brought up as a devout Christian. One Price Caradoc, who was not of the faith, proposed to marry her and when she rejected his proposals he struck her with the sword and gravely wounded her. It is said that at the place where her blood spilled on the ground a spring welled up which is still there today, at Holywell in Flintshire. When she recovered she founded a community of religious women of which she became the Abbess and so spent the rest of her life in devotion.
Extracts taken from “The Church of St Winifred Manaton, Historical Notes”, available from the church, price 50 pence.