The old village of Penrice is set high above Oxwich Marsh and commands a magnificent view over the bay. The six cottages clustered around the stocky limestone Norman church of St Andrew, with its wonderful medieval grotesques, are in immaculate condition. The Penrice Estate gradually bought them back after hard times, and they’re now used as holiday lets throughout the year. There are no permanent residents around the green now, and the heart has gone from the village, some say there is no village. Up to a generation ago, Penrice was typical of many old Gower villages with its own post office, now Bay View Cottage, and shop, now Rose Cottage. The old flat red George V post box is still in use in the wall of Bay View Cottage, but is probably used only for the occasional holiday postcard.
We often come here for a picnic on the bench in front of the church to enjoy the peace, the view of the distant sea, and the wildlife. Swallows feed young from a second brood in a nest in the front porch of Sea View Cottage, dropping faecal sacs as they leave. Great-spotted woodpeckers are busy behind the enormous yew tree in the churchyard. A very pale looking robin, starting its annual moult, bobs about the hedgerow, and a beautiful pair of bullfinches allow me a good five minutes viewing as they preen amongst the fuchsias around the arbour in the garden of Bay Cottage.
Best of all though is the peace of this place. The few people that walk through the timeless village are looking for the same thing as us, but the bench in front of the church is ours for the moment, and they walk on.