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Church of St. Aidan

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llawhaden, Pembrokeshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8226 / 51°49'21"N

Longitude: -4.7943 / 4°47'39"W

OS Eastings: 207520

OS Northings: 217468

OS Grid: SN075174

Mapcode National: GBR CT.W7H6

Mapcode Global: VH2NY.VG94

Entry Name: Church of St. Aidan

Listing Date: 21 June 1971

Last Amended: 11 August 1997

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 6062

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In a square churchyard on the right bank of the Eastern Cleddau, 300 m N of Llawhaden Bridge.

County: Pembrokeshire

Community: Llawhaden (Llanhuadain)

Community: Llawhaden

Locality: Llawhaden Bridge

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire

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History

St. Aidan's church is an ancient foundation, dedicated to a C6 Irish monk who was a pupil of St. David. An ancient pillar-stone, with faint carvings, is displayed on the exterior of the E wall of the present building. The church is now re-roofed and partially rebuilt in the C19 on old foundations, with particularly interesting mediaeval survivals at the S side.

Apart from the pillar stone, the pier and responds of the chancel/vestry arcade are the oldest identifiable surviving parts, of the C12. The subsequent architectural history of the church is complex; at the S a tower, probably C13, was added to a hypothetical original nave. A radical late C13/early C14 transformation is reasonably to be assigned to the time of Bishop Bek (when the village was being elevated to the status of a borough) or a little later. In this development the early nave was superceded by the present large nave and a N chapel replaced by the new chancel. The present nave apparently overlaps the site of the older nave. A new and much larger tower was added, also on the presumed old nave site. Unusually, the old tower was retained, its N wall serving as the S wall of the new one. The old tower staircase was retained and adapted.

Prior to restoration, the church consisted of a C13/C14 nave and chancel with the Roch chapel (which was the original chancel) to the S of the chancel, and a double tower S of the nave.

Restoration commenced in the time of the Rev. Thomas Bridgestock in 1834. £200 was spent on the repair of walls, the replacement of the roof, and the construction, as ordered by the Bishop, of a gallery. When the later restoration of 1861 was undertaken the inferior timber used and the damage caused to the stonework by the gallery in 1834 were matters of complaint. The new restoration was undertaken by the architect J J Sturge, of Thornbury, Bristol, in the time of the Rev. Daniel Jones. At an estimated cost of £930 it was decided that the nave and chancel were to be rebuilt, but this rebuild left much early masonry intact. Further expense was encountered during the work, for a new chancel arch, W entrance, nave paving, stained glass, new churchyard walls and gates. In addition the private chapel S of the chancel (the old chancel) was restored at the Roch family's expense: in it free pews for the poorer parishioners were installed. The church was re-opened in June 1862. The Roch chapel later became the vestry.

Exterior

The church is of mediaeval form and consists of a large nave and chancel partially rebuilt and given a W porch in the C19, adjacent to an unusual surviving mediaeval group of two towers and an original chancel. Traces of old doorways at N and S show the nave was not reduced to ground level in the C19 restoration.

The nave and chancel as restored are unusually high-roofed, with a pitch of about 60 degrees. The walls are constructed of rubble similar to that of the older surviving parts, but the restored masonry is more clearly brought to courses. Nave, porch and chancel roofs are slated with tile ridges, with coped gables and finials. At the S side of the restored nave the dressings of a blocked round-headed doorway survive. At the N side, between the centre and right windows, are slight traces of another lost doorway, but no dressings remain.

To the S side of the chancel are two blocked windows with cinquefoil-headed lights under a square label mould. An old painting shows they were not yet blocked in the early C19. Elsewhere the windows are restored; the E window has tracery in a geometrical style. Generally the windows are of two lights with a pointed trefoil head plus a top pointed quatrefoil. Below the E window is an ancient carved pillar stone, built into the wall, above a projecting stone.

Both of the towers have locally typical corbelled parapets. The lower and older tower has slit belfry lights, and there are double belfry lights to all sides of the later tower. The newer tower also has a string course.

The C19 W porch is open fronted, paved in slate, with slate benches each side.

Interior

The nave is of five bays defined by high collar-beam trusses with arched supports from corbels below wallplate level. There is one step up at the chancel arch and one at the sanctuary. To the right is the vestry; it was originally a chancel with its N aisle on the site of the present chancel. The separating arcade is of two arches, with a round column and moulded caps to the column and responds. The column cap is of conical cushion form with a cable moulding similar to that on the font. The E respond has grotesque carvings, including a two-headed animal in which the heads share one eye, and another face at the rear. The arches above are four-centred, presumably C15. A death's-head corbel above on the chancel side was a former roof bracket support.

Access to the tower is now through the vestry, but a blocked deep S archway at the S of the nave was previously the direct access. The archway now resembles a small transept. The stairs to the towers commence at the SW corner of the later tower, and they appear to be an adaptation of the original smaller-tower stairs. The larger tower has a pointed vault over its base storey, but no vault or upper floor survives in the smaller tower.

Against the S wall of the vestry is the effigy in Nolton stone of a priest, head on a pillow and feet on a dog. At the S of the chancel is a slate monument to the Rev. William Evans, d.1796, who was the translator of the Rev. Rees Pritchard's verse. In the blocked tower-archway is a memorial to the Rev. Evan Owen, chaplain to Charles II, d.1662; oval plaque with Baroque carved surround.

The E window consists of glass recovered from Slebech church in 1995. It features Gethsemane and the four evangelists. An E window in the vestry is in a grisaille style, with crosses in leaded quarries and a red margin.

Reasons for Listing

Listed grade II* as a church of mediaeval date with an unusual double-towered form, retaining significant early fabric includung good interior details.

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