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Church of St Athan

A Grade I Listed Building in St. Athan (Sain Tathan), Vale of Glamorgan

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4025 / 51°24'9"N

Longitude: -3.4145 / 3°24'52"W

OS Eastings: 301701

OS Northings: 168003

OS Grid: ST017680

Mapcode National: GBR HM.QV4H

Mapcode Global: VH6FN.R0RN

Entry Name: Church of St Athan

Listing Date: 22 February 1963

Last Amended: 3 September 2004

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 13166

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In the centre of St Athan village.

County: Vale of Glamorgan

Town: Barry

Community: St. Athan (Sain Tathan)

Community: St. Athan

Locality: St Athan

Built-Up Area: RAF Station St Athan

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Saint Athan

History

Probably late C12 in origin, but there is little evidence of this on the outside of the building since the features are all C14 or C15, or of the late C19. The nave, the chancel, and the tower crossing are C13, while the transepts are C14, or at least C14 reconstructions. The porch and the upper part of the tower are probably C15. There was a Victorian restoration in 1888 when a new roof was provided for the north transept and vestry, and a restoration of the chancel in 1890 with a new window by W Martin. There seems to have been little change since that date apart from the adaptation of the vestry to boiler room in the late C20.

Exterior

Built of local limestone rubble with dressed quoins, varied stone for the window tracery, the Victorian ones probably Bath stone, Welsh slate roofs. Cruciform plan, with nave, chancel, south porch, north and south transepts, central crossing tower, boiler room.
The nave west gable has a large 3-light Decorated window with interesting tracery and cusped trefoils in the head. C15 doorway below with 2-centred head and fillet dripmould, replacement double doors with Victorian ironwork. Two 2-light Decorated windows with quatrefoil head in the north wall. Two more on the south wall flanking the porch, all these have Y-tracery, and appear to be Bath stone and are therefore Victorian. The porch has a medieval roof with arched braces and a collar purlin, and a 2-centred entrance arch with a triple chamfered doorway with fillet hoodmould within.
The south transept has a 3-light square headed window with reticulated tracery on either wall, the one on the east wall has two rows of reticulation, the one on the west wall is said to be a Victorian insertion. The south gable has a 3-light reticulated window with quatrefoils above, its hoodmould with headstops. Coped gable with cross.
The chancel has a C13 priest's door below with four lancets above, but this upper part of the wall is evidently rebuilt and the windows are Victorian. The east gable has a 3-light Decorated style window with quatrefoils which dates from 1890. Coped gable with apex cross. The north wall is blind and mostly covered by a lean-to boiler room, an extended Victorian vestry which has two pointed arch doors and three small windows, tall stack above and behind.
North transept as south one except that both windows have two rows of reticulation and the gable is uncoped.
The crossing tower has diagonal buttresses which are only visible above the roofs. Single round-headed bell-chamber openings with their heads obscured by the clock faces. Machicolated and castellated parapet with small corner pinnacles.

Interior

The interior is plastered and painted throughout. The nave roof is an open wagon ceiled above collar level with pine boards. It was clearly reroofed in the Victorian restoration but the rafters themselves are probably C15 athough repaired. Three bay Victorian roof to chancel, which has arch braced collar trusses. Plainer Victorian principal rafter roofs to transepts. All the furnishings are Victorian apart from the extremely unusual tulip shaped font which is presumably early medieval, it is of Sutton stone, perhaps C13. Of the Victorian furnishings the communion rail is noteworthy. Widened crossing arches on the east and west, all are plain. Squints into the chancel from the transepts. The north transept, now used as a vestry, is plain.
The south transept is the outstanding feature of the church with its two major monuments to the de Berkerolles family of East Orchard (qv). The primary one is to Sir Roger de Berkerolles (died 1351) and his wife, which stands in a flamboyant ogee arched niche under the south window. The coloured figures lie on a chest which is decorated with painted figures, representing monks and laity, on the sides, the bright colouring is of apparently mid C20 date. The secondary monument is to Sir William de Berkerolles (died 1327 and father of Sir Roger) and his wife. This is more damaged but is also coloured, and has painted relief figures round the chest. This tomb may have been the earlier and moved by the son, or it could be an afterthought. The bells (not seen) are four recast in 1919 and two others added at that time.

Reasons for Listing

Included and highly graded as a fine medieval church which has exceptional medieval monuments in the south transept.

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