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Church of St Cynyw

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llangyniew, Powys

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Latitude: 52.6726 / 52°40'21"N

Longitude: -3.2924 / 3°17'32"W

OS Eastings: 312710

OS Northings: 309100

OS Grid: SJ127091

Mapcode National: GBR 9T.4N2W

Mapcode Global: WH79M.D2FZ

Plus Code: 9C4RMPF5+23

Entry Name: Church of St Cynyw

Listing Date: 31 January 1953

Last Amended: 19 September 2002

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 7633

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In the hamlet of Llangyniew, about 4 km south-east of Pontrobert. Churchyard originally circular, extended in 1926 and defined by walls and railings. The building is oriented north-east (but conventio

County: Powys

Community: Llangyniew (Llangynyw)

Community: Llangyniew

Locality: Llangynyw

Traditional County: Montgomeryshire

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A church of the C15 standing on a more ancient site. The formerly circular shape of the churchyard suggests early origins. A 'cappella de Llankenwy' was recorded in 1254. The C15 dating of the present structure is based on the porch, the main doorway, some of the windows and, in the interior, the font and rood screen. A list of rectors has been compiled from 1537. The most important survival is the rood screen, substantially complete apart from the loss of the loft. The dedication is to St Cynyw, a saint of the C6, although an alternative dedication to All Saints has been mentioned.

The gallery is said to have been erected in 1842, but it was evidently added before 1839 at which date the Rev. John Parker used it as his position for a valuable early drawing of the interior, showing the screen before the majority of its posts were cut. The interior was re-arranged in 1858, at which time the small vestry to the north was added. During the C19 alterations the chancel was given definition by raising it one step and the communion rails were altered. The church was re-pewed and a new bellcote was constructed.


St Cynyw's is a church without any exterior differentiation between nave and chancel. The church including its C19 vestry are in rendered stonework, and there is a two-bay timber-framed and timber-panelled south porch. The roofs are slate with tile ridges and there is a C19 stone bellcote at the west end with iron weathervane.

The main door at south is in an equilateral arch of two orders, but the porch is offset slightly to its east; the inner timbering of the porch has been adapted to make it appear better centred on the doorway. The porch is a fine example of C15 timber framing with massive scantlings. Cambered tile beam at front with V-struts above and pegged arch-braces; carved bargeboards. The porch has side benches and is paved with cobbles.

The windows are partly Perpendicular and partly C19 in generally similar style. The east window is Perpendicular, with a drop arch and three main lights. In the south elevation are two Perpendicular two-light windows and one three-light C19 window in Perpendicular style, all with flat heads and trefoiled lights. In the north elevation the windows are of the C19, a trefoil-headed lancet and two flat-headed two-light windows. There is a high level tri-segmental hexafoil C19 light in the west elevation. The north side of the vestry has a single lancet.

At the left of the east wall is a mural monument to the Rev. H Foulkes, rector 1729-45 and his wife, daughter and son-in-law.


The church is entered at the south by a Perpendicular doorway. The interior has escaped comprehensive C19 restoration; it retains its post-mediaeval plastered barrel ceiling. A tie-beam is visible against the west wall. The chancel is one step higher and is defined by a substantially surviving rood screen. There are two banks of late C19 pews and an early C19 west gallery. A door at the left of the chancel beside the organ leads to the vestry. There is a stencilled band at the base of the vault and a painted inscription over the east window.

The rood screen has been dated stylistically to the third quarter of the C15 and consists of a beam supported on two carved posts, with other posts (reduced to pendants in the mid C19) dividing the side compartments into five bays, each filled at head with Perpendicular filigree carving; there is a wider panel of similar carving but including heraldic features in the centre opening. One panel has been replaced in iron. (The gallery at the west end of the church is also carried on two posts and there is an heraldic carving in the head of its central opening which may also derive from the rood.) Above the panels the rood beam is carved with a ragged staff and vine motifs on the west side and a pomegranate trail on the east side (the latter carving dated stylistically to c.1500). The top of the beam is now decorated with four small carved finials.

The west gallery has a plain panelled front, a raking floor, and three rows of pews. Its staircase in the south west corner has a plain handrail on square balusters. The gallery front panelling resembles the wall dadoes at north and south. Beneath the gallery is the font which is octagonal, stone, with a Tudor rose above the base and a wooden cover. It is now recessed into the west wall.

The pulpit is now at the left side: panelled with cornice moulding and canted corners; swept and coiled handrail with turned newel. At the opposite side is a hooded prayer desk donated in 1918.

The sanctuary is defined by a further step and by three-sided Communion rails of C17 type (altered since 1839, when the balusters were close-set and the enclosure smaller); moulded and enriched handrail, supported on turned balusters set into a plinth. There is no gate. The altar stands against a carved Gothic C19/20 reredos which extends out to the side walls and reaches to the sill of the east window. The upper panels are carved and painted: chalice at centre with flanking Welsh inscription above altar; figures in the outer panels to left and right of the altar. Above, to each side of the east window, are pictures painted directly on the wall plaster, the colours now faded; at left the Incarnation, commemorating the Rev. Thomas Richards, rector 1826-56, at right the Resurrection, commemorating the Rev. M Jones, rector 1856-62.

The east window depicts the Crucifixion, and was donated in 1909 to commemorate the Rev. D Lewis, rector 1877-95. St Cynyw is one of the saints in the tracery lights. The only other stained glass is in a south window, the Good Shepherd, Mary and St John, commemorating the Rev. S Reed, rector 1895-1906. There is a wall memorial at north of the nave with grey marble open pediment to Canon Evans [1787] (carved by John Nelson of Shrewsbury); Canon Evans is thought to have assisted Dr Johnson with information on words of Welsh derivation when the latter was considering compiling a dictionary. There is a painted benefactions board in the vestry.

Reasons for Listing

Listed at grade II* as a mediaeval church which has escaped substantial Victorian restoration, and retains an important remnant of its rood screen and a fine porch.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Ffordd Banwy (Old Rectory)
    About 50 m north of St Cynyw's Church, Llangynyw, in private grounds.
  • II Farm building at Henllan
    On north side of minor lane, opposite Henllan, about ½ km east of St Cynyw's church
  • II Henllan
    To south side of a minor lane about ½ km east of St Cynyw's church.
  • II Ty-mawr Farmhouse
    To east side of a minor road about 1 km north of St Cynyw's church; to the north of a farmyard.
  • II Henllan-fach
    Beside a minor road about 1 km east of St Cynyw's church
  • II Heniarth Mill
    At north side of the Afon Banwy, reached by a short lane south from the A458 about 250 m east of Heniarth Bridge; close to a former halt on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. Leat runs to rear
  • II Tanhouse Bridge
    Carrying the minor road to south-east of Fridd Mathrafal over Yr Hafesp (a tributary stream of Afon Banwy), and about 2 km south-east of Pontrobert village.
  • II Tan-y-ffridd
    To west side of the A495 2 km south-west of New Bridge Mechain. Farmyard at rear. Low wall at front with red coping bricks and simple cast-iron railings, gate at centre.

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