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Church of St Michael

A Grade II Listed Building in Cwmavon, Neath Port Talbot

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6132 / 51°36'47"N

Longitude: -3.763 / 3°45'46"W

OS Eastings: 278024

OS Northings: 191961

OS Grid: SS780919

Mapcode National: GBR H4.9Q5H

Mapcode Global: VH5GV.QQH5

Entry Name: Church of St Michael

Listing Date: 21 March 2000

Last Amended: 21 March 2000

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 23018

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: Located at the corner of Ty'r Owen Row and London Row.

County: Neath Port Talbot

Town: Port Talbot

Community: Cwmavon (Cwmafan)

Community: Cwmavon

Built-Up Area: Cwmavon

Traditional County: Glamorgan

Find accommodation in
Port Talbot

History

The tower dates to 1660, possibly replacing an earlier tower belonging to the medieval church. An unusual yellow brick spire was added in the mid C18 along with crenellated parapets for the tower. The remainder of the church, by John Prichard, dates to 1850-1 and is a good example of his early work. It was built under the direction of John Biddulph, the unpopular manager of the Cwmavan Works, who strongly opposed non-conformity.

The medieval tub font was thrown onto a rubbish heap during the C19 restoration, but was retrieved later and placed at the E end of the aisle. An engraved stone slab dedicated to members of the Herbert family, dated 1651, was also found. The altar, a reused Elizabethan tomb-chest, is of particular interest. It is the tomb of George Williams of Blaen Baglan (d. 1600).

Exterior

West tower, nave, chancel, S porch, N aisle and N vestry in Gothic-style. Constructed of roughly coursed stone with large dressed quoins under slate roofs. Narrow 3-stage tower of C17. Yellow brick battlemented parapets and a 3-stage yellow brick spire were added later. Continuous chamfered pointed arched doorway to W side of tower, now infilled with concrete. To the middle stage is a 2-light window in a flat headed surround containing cinquefoil-headed lancets. A stone tablet in a frame is immediately above, but is eroded and blank. The top stage has a window consisting of 2 plain chamfered lancets, also infilled with concrete. Similar windows to top stage of S and N sides. The parapets are slightly corbelled and have flat capstones. The spire has raised bands between the stages and is surmounted by a weather vane. It contains narrow round-headed lights to alternate faces of the lower 2 stages, each with a yellow brick head and a horizontal glazing bar.

The nave is wider than the tower and has moulded stone eaves. Some masonry at the SW angle may be from the earlier church. Narrow gabled porch to L of centre with chamfered pointed arched doorway with plain hoodmould containing open ironwork gates. Cross finial to apex. Flat-headed narrow lights to side walls of porch. Inside the porch is a pointed arched doorway, the door with moulded ribs, side benches and a 2-bay arch-braced roof. The nave windows are cinquefoiled lancets above which are circles containing quatrefoils under flat heads. Single light to L of porch, 3-light to R of porch and 2-light further to R. The eaves of the chancel are slightly higher. Two tall windows to S side of chancel, each with 2 cinquefoiled lights and triangular heads. Three-light Perpendicular-style window to E end, above which is a vent in the gable apex and a cross finial. Against the N side of the chancel is a small lean-to vestry with a cinquefoiled lancet to the E end and a chamfered pointed arched doorway to the N side. The added N aisle is a range of similar size to the nave. Its E end is as the E end of the chancel with a 3-light Perpendicular-style window. The N side of the aisle has 2 windows, each with 2 cinquefoiled lancets and flat stone heads. Two-light Perpendicular-style window to W end of aisle. Small breeze block lean-to in angle with tower.

Interior

The nave has a 5-bay arch-braced roof with curved braces above the collars. Corbels with gilded head bosses. Similar roof structure to N aisle. Tall narrow pointed tower arch with double chamfers. It is infilled and recessed, the lower part with timber panelling containing a flat-headed door. Shallow pointed arch to chancel also with double chamfered mouldings. Open wooden framing between nave and aisle, of moulded posts respecting the bay divisions, supporting a similar lintel. Chamfered pointed arched doorway between chancel and vestry.

Planked pews and octagonal wooden pulpit with trefoiled lancet frieze. Octagonal C19 stone font at W end, with recessed quatrefoils alternating with 4-leafed flowers, each with a decorative boss in the centre. The medieval tub font is now located at the E end of the aisle. The altar is composed of a large stone tomb-chest, the top replaced by polished marble. The front and ends of the tomb have weepers in high relief, crudely carved and in Elizabethan costume. They depict the children of the deceased who is interred beneath. There are 8 children to the front and a pair to the ends, their names roughly engraved above. Between each pair of children is a narrow turned column, with a cusped canopy above with foliage and crockets. Larger columns to angles, that to S bearing a human figure. Plain marble reredos flanked by pairs of columns supporting a cornice. To the sides is wooden panelling with cinquefoiled lancets.

Stained glass: The E window depicts Christ, St Peter and St Paul and is c1850. South chancel windows; to L depicting dragons and beasts, signed EBL, 1991. To R, a window to William and Mary Ann Bowen dated 1964. Beneath biblical figures is an industrial scene with a water wheel and a depiction of the church. East window of aisle, early C20 and to John Russell, depicting the Ascension. Red margin glazing in windows to nave.

Small marble memorial tables in nave and chancel, C19 and C20. To the S wall is a grey tablet, C18, to the John family. War memorial next to tower arch, a tall wooden panel with arched head with wooden doors inside which is a lancet-shaped marble tablet. Below is a traceried design flanked by 2 soldiers in relief.

Reasons for Listing

Listed primarily for the unusual tower of C17 date and as an early work of the architect, John Prichard. The Elizabethan tomb-chest is of additional interest.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Penuel Chapel
    Located opposite Jersey Row and next to the Jersey Arms public house.
  • II Tabernacle Chapel
    Located in a prominent position on the hillside overlooking the centre of Cwmavon. The vestry of 1931 is alongside.
  • II Ynysafan Tramroad Bridge
    At the end of a lane off Ynysafan terrace and crossing the River Afan.
  • II Cwm Clais Mill
    To the S of the farmhouse and immediately E of stables. The hillside slopes up behind to the S.
  • II Velindre Bridge
    Located at the SW corner of the settlement of Velindre and now carrying a path which runs parallel with Cwmavon Road.

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