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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael , Cathedine

Cathedine Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llangors in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1436325178.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 15846 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Cathedine Church, CPAT copyright photo 372-06.JPG


St Michael's church at Cathedine occupies a rectangular churchyard on a hill slope at the southern end of Llangorse Lake, some 11km to the east of Brecon. The church was almost entirely rebuilt in the second half of the 19thC, but some stonework from the earlier structure may survive. Its only medieval furnishing is a plain font.

The church was rebuilt at two different periods in the second half of the 19thC, but perhaps not entirely: the west wall and the jambs of the south door could be from its predecessor.

Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam


The origin of the church is not known. On present evidence it is unlikely to be an early medieval foundation.

The Episcopal Register of St Davids lists it as 'Blaneueny' in 1401, while the Valor Ecclesiasticus refers to 'Kethoddyn' in 1535.

In c.1810 the church consisted of a nave and chancel, and an unroofed "tower", containing three bells, to the west. The windows were narrow elongated squares; the floor was indifferently flagged and on the north side was a structure called "the old chapel" which was used as a lumber room.

Glynne visited Cathedine in 1855, noting a "kind of tower at the west end, not rising higher than the nave", and having a saddle roof. Close to the west end of the nave a chapel had been added at right-angles. The building had been whitewashed externally. The east window had two lights and was poor Perpendicular, there was only one window in the north wall, and three of doubtful integrity on the south. The churchyard contained some fine yews.

The north tower and a new chancel were erected by E.H.Martineau in 1868, and the nave was largely rebuilt by S.W.Williams in 1894. The specification for this second phase of work required the old loft to be taken down at the west end, the old walls of the nave, transept and porch to be demolished, small lancet windows to be removed, rainwater drains to be dug to a depth of 2', a heating chamber to be excavated and tiled floors to be laid.


Cathedine church consists of a nave, a slightly narrower chancel, a south porch near the south-west corner of the nave, and a tower with spire attached to the north side of the chancel. The orientation of the church is almost exactly east to west.

Fabrics: 'A' is of regular slabs and a few blocks of red sandstone, mostly small in size and deliberately randomly coursed. Larger blocks used for quoins. Buff coloured sandstone used for dressings.

Roofs: slates with terracotta ridge tiles.

Drainage: around the east side of the church is a drainage trench, fading out at the stair turret built into the north-west corner of the tower.


Cathedine church was completely rebuilt in Early Gothic Revival style late in the Victorian period and for that reason the following description is an outline only. It is terraced into the slope, markedly affecting the chancel and to a lesser extent the tower.

Tower. General. On chamfered plinth; it has a small, broach spire surmounted by a finial. A pentagonal stair turret projects from the north side. Belfry windows are double lancets with louvre boards of massive slate slabs, and relieving arches over. Entrance on east side of tower has a Caernarvon arch, also with a relieving arch. On the west face of the tower is a drip-course for another structural element, the only sign that it was ever built being a stub wall extending for a short distance beside the turret.

Nave and chancel. General. Majority of windows are simple single lancets, the exception being the east window of three lights which has ornate Gothic tracery and relieving arch. Porch door has a hoodmoulding with plain stops. The exception to the overall appearance is the ivy-covered west wall. This is battered for the first 0.5m (in contrast to the other walls), the masonry is less regular and is also less well pointed. Conceivably it could be an earlier wall or perhaps is rebuilt using older materials. Standard Victorian window.


Porch. General. The south door to the church has a modern turned arch in grey sandstone, but the jambs are of single blocks of red sandstone with simple stops - these must surely be earlier and could be in situ.

Nave and chancel. General. Simple tiled floor with heating vent grilles down the aisle of the nave. Walls plastered and whitewashed apart from some dressings. Barrel roof. Several mural tablets with those on west wall of 1774 and 1797.

Chancel approached by two steps up, and another to sanctuary. Chancel floor tiled. Walls as nave. Roof of three bays with vertical struts above arch-braced collars springing from corbels.


Cathedine churchyard is set on a west facing slope, its long axis in contrast to that of the church from north to south. The church itself is terraced deeply into the slope.

A small modern extension to the graveyard has been added in the south-east corner but otherwise there is no indication that the present rectilinear enclosure has been modified in any way over the centuries.

It is reasonably well kept and is used for modern burial.

Boundary: a stone wall forms the perimeter; on the west, downhill side the external ground level is 1m or more lower, while on the east, uphill side the reverse is true with the wall acting as an internal retaining wall.

Monuments: these are spread throughout much of the yard except on the north where tracts of ground are still open; graves are quite tightly packed on the south while 20thC ones are concentrated on the north. Later 18thC gravestones have been cleared and now lean against the north wall of the nave, and there are other possible examples in a comparable position against the south wall.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: a scarp up to 2m high where the boundary ran on the south-east side, prior to the enlargement of the churchyard.

Ancillary features: a single metal gate at the top (east end) of the churchyard, and a roughly tarmac path leads from this to the porch. A grass path continues westwards to a vertical stone stile that leads into a field below the church.

Vegetation: the ancient yews on the south edge of the churchyard, the central one badly shattered; otherwise there are mature pines and other trees.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 17 August 1995
Dawson 1909, 49
Faculty 1894: NLW/SD/F/105
Glynne 1886, 275
Haslam 1979, 309
Jones and Bailey 1911, iii, 61 & 64.
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Please note that many rural churches are closed to the public at certain times. It is advisable to check when the church will be open before visiting. Information about access, or how to contact parish clergy, can often be obtained from the relevant Diocesan Office which can be found through the Church in Wales website. Further information about Cathedine Church may also be found on the Swansea and Brecon Diocese website.

The CPAT Brecknockshire Churches Survey Project was funded by Cadw as part of an all Wales survey of medieval parish churches.

This HTML page has been generated from the Cadw Churches Survey database & CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record - 17/07/2007 ( 22:00:34 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 7a Church Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7DL tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email -, website -

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