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Church of St Cathen

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llangathen, Carmarthenshire

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Latitude: 51.8798 / 51°52'47"N

Longitude: -4.0578 / 4°3'28"W

OS Eastings: 258450

OS Northings: 222142

OS Grid: SN584221

Mapcode National: GBR DS.RQ47

Mapcode Global: VH4J2.M04R

Plus Code: 9C3QVWHR+WV

Entry Name: Church of St Cathen

Listing Date: 8 July 1966

Last Amended: 30 January 2003

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 10929

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In a large churchyard occuping a high position at the S end of the village of Llangathen.

County: Carmarthenshire

Community: Llangathen

Community: Llangathen

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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A C13 church enlarged in the C14 by the addition of transepts, of which the S transept is now incorporated into the S aisle. The W tower is later, probably of the C15 or C16. Further additions were probably made in the early C17 after Bishop Rudd of St Davids purchased nearby Aberglasney and became patron of the living. This entailed the addition of a S aisle and a S chancel chapel, in which the Rudd memorial was built. Major restoration took place in 1813-15 and is recorded on a board in the base of the tower. This included the present nave and chancel arcades and roofs. In 1868 further restoration took place, including the repair of the N transept and the installation of benches and the present font. Further restoration followed in 1899 by Stephen Williams, architect of Rhayader. Williams rebuilt the chancel and replaced the 1813 chancel arch. He also renewed most of the nave and aisle windows.


A Tudor-Gothic style church comprising nave with S aisle, lower chancel with S chapel (also known as the Aberglasney Chapel), W tower, S porch and N transept (also known as the Cadfan Chapel). Of rubble stone with freestone dressings and slate roof. The lower S porch has an elliptical arch with continuous roll moulding, and a doorway to the S aisle with a 4-centred arch, also with continuous roll moulding, and double boarded doors with strap hinges. To its R are three 3-light square-headed windows with sunk spandrels and hood moulds, renewed in 1899. An original but similar window is in the W wall. Attached to the wall between the centre and R-hand of the S windows is a memorial stone to Esther Francis and family (d 1831) enclosed by iron railings. The plain, lower S chapel, set back from the line of the S aisle, has an inserted late C19 boarded door, with the hood mould of an earlier window offset above it. The chapel has a 2-light geometrical E window of 1868, enclosed by railings, to the L of which is an in-built tablet commemorating Robert Dyer of Aberglasney (d 1752). The chancel has a 3-light Perpendicular E window with hood mould, of 1899. On the N side of the chancel is a large tomb enclosure (the memorial stone now fallen) enclosed by iron railings. The N transept has a 2-light N window with C19 Decorated tracery and hood mould, and a pointed W doorway with boarded door. The nave has 2 N window similar to the S aisle, between which is a stone tablet, within an architrave, to Ann Evans (d 1841) and a railed enclosure. To the lower R of the R-hand window is an in-built stone tablet to David Davies (d 1844).

The 4-stage tower has a NE turret, curved in the lower 2 stages, square above, and a small lean-to on the N side. The W doorway is 2-centred with a continuous chamfer and hood mould, and has double boarded doors with strap hinges. The 2nd and 3rd stages have narrows strips on the W and S faces, while the bell stage has 2-light square-headed openings with sunk spandrels (partly obscured by render in the W face) and louvres partly missing. The embattled parapet projects on a corbel table.


Nave and S aisle have canted wagon roofs with moulded ribs and plaster panels. The 3-bay nave arcade, of 1813, has octagonal piers and round arches with a single order of chamfer. The 2-centred arch of 1868 to the N transept also has a single order of continuous chamfer. In the N transept is a recess of a former window in the E wall, and a simple 2-centred piscina. The pointed chancel arch has 2 orders of chamfer, the outer continuous and the inner on angel corbels, and a hood mould with head stops. In the chancel is a roof of 1899, of 2 bays with half bays at the ends, the trusses composed of collar beams above diagonal braces, the space between infilled with openwork decoration. The 3-bay chancel arcade, also of 1813, has pointed arches incorporating 2 orders of chamfer, on octagonal piers. The chancel and sanctuary floor are laid with encaustic tiles.

The base of the tower has a tunnel vault. The W doorway to the nave has a continuous roll and hollow moulding.

The principal interior feature is the Jacobean memorial to Bishop Rudd. This is Renaissance in style, comprising a tomb chest with 2 raised fields, upon which are effigies of Bishop Rudd (d 1614) and his wife Ann Dalton (d 1616) in contemporary dress. Behind them, against the back of the tomb, is a slate memorial tablet framed by strapwork in low relief. The effigies lie beneath a coffered round arch on an outer order of Corinthian columns on high panelled bases, supporting an entablature incorporating a frieze of rosettes, and a panelled soffit with diamond fields. The pediment is broken by a coat of arms and bishop''''''''''''''''s mitre. The tomb chest is flanked by pairs of kneeling children, each pair framed by a canopy on a panelled base, and with fluted Ionic columns and moulded entablature. Each canopy is surmounted by a tall panelled obelisk.

The church has other significant C18 and C19 wall monuments. In the E wall of the chapel is a tablet surmounted by a psalter, to John Walter Philipps of Aberglasney (d 1848), by Lewis of Cheltenham. Another monument by Lewis is in the S chancel wall, commemorating Thomas Philipps of Aberglasney (d 1824). This is a marble wall tablet on a slate background, has a Greek-key frieze at the base, inscription, and is surmounted by a draped urn. In the S aisle is an alabaster wall monument to Rev Thomas Llwyd (d 1775) comprising an urn with putto over an inscription panel. To its R is an alabaster tablet on a slate background, by P Rogers of Swansea, to the Rev George Wade Green of Court Henry (d 1868) and members of his family, comprising a plain inscription surmounted by a bible and a dove laying a wreath.

The octagonal font is C19 in late Perpendicular style, with panelled stem and quatrefoil relief panels to the bowl. The benches, with simple pointed ends, were installed in 1868. The polygonal pulpit has early Gothic style panels. The C17 Communion rail has turned balusters and pointed arches.

Several windows have C19 and C20 stained glass. The E window shows Christ, the SE window Jesus with the Canaanite woman''''''''''''''''s daughter. The N window depicts Faith, Hope and Charity signed by Florence Cann of Smethwick, but undated. The nave NW window shows the crucifixion.

Reasons for Listing

Listed grade II* as a substantial medieval church with a major early C19 interior remodelling, and featuring the fine Jacobean memorial to Bishop Rudd.

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