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Church of St Llwchaiarn

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llandyssil, Powys

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5299 / 52°31'47"N

Longitude: -3.2429 / 3°14'34"W

OS Eastings: 315779

OS Northings: 293173

OS Grid: SO157931

Mapcode National: GBR 9W.FN8F

Mapcode Global: VH684.QNYY

Entry Name: Church of St Llwchaiarn

Listing Date: 26 October 1953

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 17008

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: Located on a narrow lane 400m N of Llanmerewig village to the east of Church Farm. The church is situated in an oval churchyard bounded by a masonry wall.

County: Powys

Community: Llandyssil (Llandysul)

Community: Llandyssil

Locality: Llanmerewig

Traditional County: Montgomeryshire

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Kerry

History

A Church was first built here in 575 by St. Llwchaiarn. The present building stands on the site of a Medieval Church, C13 - C15, and includes the Medieval roof and possibly other fabric. The church underwent major alterations on two occasions in the C19 from which it derives its present characteristic style. The first alterations were undertaken from 1839 to 1843 by the rector, John Parker (1798-1860), an enthusiastic advocate of the Gothic style. The present tower and a semi-dormer window on the S side were added at this time, and the porch was richly ornamented. Further changes were made including the addition of an octagonal shafted chimney to the S side, a new vestry, gallery, pulpit, oak and cast iron furniture and a ceiling for the roof. All these were subsequently removed. A report by Sir Stephen Glynne in 1858 noted that the church had been 'altered and ornamented in a very questionable style' as the rich Gothic elements were seen to be out of character with the 'mean and unpretending' original church. The second series of restorations took place in 1892 and were more conventional in style; plans were prepared by Sir Aston Webb and the work was funded by Charles Whitley Owen of Fronfraith Hall. The E and N walls were rebuilt, and a new E window was built to match the old Medieval window which was removed to the E boundary wall of the churchyard, where it remains. The vestry was rebuilt, incorporating the chimney shaft which had been built against the S side of the nave. Two surplus blocks are set in the ground to the south of the porch.

Exterior

Predominantly in a rather simple Decorated style, but with some Early English elements. W tower, nave and chancel undivided, S porch and N vestry. Random masonry with yellow sandstone dressings, except for the E window which is of dressed red sandstone. Slate roofs with red ridge tiles. The church is embellished by angle and diagonal buttresses, often with gablets, and large fleur-de-lis style finials.

Distinctive tall, narrow 2-stage tower divided by a moulded string course with foliate decoration to the angles. Saddle back roof with raised sandstone copings to the verges and gableted corbels. There are machiolations beneath the sandstone eaves. There are narrow flat headed openings to the first stage of the tower and a sandstone block with an inscribed date of 1839 on the S side. The N side contains a plain planked door under a 4-centred arch and a sandstone lintel. It is approached by sandstone steps bound on the E side by a low wall which is separated from the W wall of the church. The top stage contains louvre openings on all 4 sides. Those to the N and S contain 2 cusped lights in plate tracery with moulded reveals. Those to the E and W comprise 2 trefoiled lancets with central colonnette and with a circular opening above, all recessed within a moulded opening under a hoodmould with foliate end bosses. There are narrow openings in the gables to the roof.

The porch is located on the S side of the nave towards its W end. It has a very ornate entrance with trefoil-headed opening containing 2 orders of mouldings under a crocketed hoodmould. The outer moulding has zig zag decoration while the inner moulding has dogtooth-style decoration. There are vertical lines of saltire crosses beneath the end bosses of the hoodmould. Above the entrance is a large foliate boss and an inscribed date reading AD 1840. The porch has wide sandstone eaves and the front face is sandstone dressed. Raised verges are surmounted by a finial to the apex and 2 finials just above the eaves with pyramidal copings and dogtooth decoration.

The S side of the nave and chancel has 2 buttresses and 4 windows; plain single lancets to the W of the porch and between the buttresses, and a plain 2-lancet window to the chancel. To the E of the porch is a more ornate window within a gabled semi-dormer. It consists of 2 trefoiled lancets with crocketed hood mould and an inscription reading AD 1843. There is an oval light above and a finial on the gable apex.

There are high diagonal buttresses to the SE and NE angles of the chancel with offsets and gablets surmounted by fleur-de-lis finials. To the E end of the church is a low brick extension c 0.5m high, with sandstone coping and a top surface of masonry slabs. It may enclose a burial. The E window contains 2 trefoiled lancets and a small trefoiled light above. It is under a plain, raked hoodmould.

The N side of the nave has 2 buttresses and 2 windows similar to the E window. The vestry is constructed at right angles to the N side of the chancel, and has a large external gable stack. The shaft comprises 4 large octagonal blocks with vertical roll mouldings, between which is dogtooth decoration. There are also horizontal mouldings at the base, top and in the middle of the shaft. The E side of the vestry contains a planked door and a window containing 2 lancets. To the W of the vestry there is a trefoiled light to the chancel.

Interior

Single chamber church with unplastered walls. C15 roof comprising shallow arched braces which are very close together obscuring the remaining roof timbers. C19 pews with fleur-de-lis decorated bench ends. Light timber rood screen with lancet-style arches, except for the central aisle opening which has a hammer-beam style arched head. It is said to include elements of the C15 screen. Steps rise up to the chancel, which has a mosaic floor with fleur-de-lis and geometric designs. C19-20 font; a round bowl on 4 columns with mouldings, supported by an octagonal plinth and base. A fragment of the C13 font survives, which had rounded handles, and a bowl with recessed circles. The windows have wide splayed jambs. The nave windows contain stained glass; square panes in yellow, green and blue with pink margin glazing. The E window has stained glass by Ballantine and Gardiner of Edinburgh. It is dedicated to the mother of Charles Whitley Owen of Fronfraith dated 1892. It depicts Christ ascending to heaven with the inscriptions 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased' and 'He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God'. On the S side of the chancel is a memorial in marble to John Lloyd, d. 1829, aged 57 years, whose remains are said to be in a vault underneath the E end of the church. The memorial is also dedicated to his wife and children, said to be buried under the monument. There is a memorial to Jack Miller, d. 1915, a churchwarden.

Reasons for Listing

Listed grade II* as a C19 small rural church in an unusually rich Gothick style, incorporating a fine C15 roof and other medieval fragments. The association with John Parker, a remarkable amateur figure in the early pre-ecclesiological Gothic revival movement is of particluar interest.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Church House
    Located on a narrow lane 400m N of Llanmerewig village next to the Church of St. Llwchaiarn. The front (E) faces a courtyard surrounded by farm buildings, which are generally of masonry construction
  • II The Old Rectory
    Located on the north side of Llanmerewig village, in a low-lying position close to a stream. The church is c350m to the N.
  • II Bridge at Fronfraith Mill
    The bridge spans the River Mule and the Kerry branch of the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway. The roadway linked Fronfraith Mill to its W with the B4368 to its E, which runs parallel with the railway
  • II Lower Maenllwyd
    Located towards the top of the narrow steep-sided valley of the River Mule. The garden slopes away sharply to the NE of the house. There is a timber framed barn located at right angles to the house,
  • II Bridge at Cwm-mule
    The bridge spans the River Mule and the Kerry branch of the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway. It carries a narrow lane east from the B4368 which runs parallel with the railway and river through the na
  • II Cilgwrgan
    Located in a low-lying position in the Severn valley fronting the A483.
  • II Cwm-mule Mill
    Located within a bend of the River Mule on a narrow, flat strip of ground.
  • II Rock Cottage
    Located at the end of a narrow trackway which runs parallel with the River Mule, 0.8Km SE of Abermule Village.

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