The Time Team investigation in 2012 decided that the chapel was built around 1200 in the Norman style, earlier than the stone castle.
It was not unusual for the pious Normans to build their churches in stone first, before their castles, but that does not mean there was no military presence in 1200. The Time Team suggested that the inhabitants of Upton at the time were non-Welsh, who may well have needed protection from regular Welsh revolts against the Norman invaders Ė though PembrokeCastle (built from 1093 on) is not far away.
The part of the church nearest the castle is the oldest part, with a font dated around 1200. The elaborate knightly monument is considered from the style of clothing to be Sir William Malefant who died in 1362. Henry Owen (Old Pembroke Families 1902) says William married Margaret Fleming, an heiress who brought lands from Glamorgan to the marriage, which may help explain the wealth reflected by the tomb. Infra-red photography in the 1970s showed up the family crest as we know it painted on the wall above the tomb, together with the Lordís prayer.
(As an aside, there are many families with memorials in the chapel, but only one per family Ė this suggests that the Upton estate itself was not particularly wealthy, and that the memorials reflect the varying tide of wealth acquired elsewhere.)
The Time Team found that the second part of the chapel was built sometime later, presumably before the death of Williamís wife Margaret who is considered to be the fine memorial nearest the altar. Before then, there was a semi-circular apse just beyond the connecting doorway, a feature which also points to a Norman date for the original church.
On the other side from Margaret is the statue of a huge man reportedly brought over from St Maryís Church at Nash. This is the neighbouring parish towards Pembroke, and it is interesting that Williamís presumed father Walter is recorded as holding half a knightís fee from the Earl of Pembroke at Nash, rather than Upton. The crossed legs of the statue suggest the man may have been a crusader, and we know the Third Crusade was preached through Wales by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1188, so whoever he was (there are no surviving records of any Malefants in Wales before Williamís presumed great-grandfather in 1258), he may possibly have been the builder of the chapel.
The other unusual feature of the chapel is the clenched fist near Sir Williamís memorial built to hold a candle, but we donít know the meaning behind this. In the early days this would have been close to the original altar. There is no knowledge either of the identity of the man commemorated in the more priestly or monastic memorial in the newer part of the church.
Andrew Maliphant August 2015