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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael and All Angels , Llanfihangel Brynpabuan

Llanfihangel Brynpabuan Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llanafanfawr in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN9840656647.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16406 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanfihangel Brynpabuan Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0619.JPG


St Michael's church lies on a spur about two miles to the south-west of Newbridge-on-Wye in the northern part of the old county of Breconshire. The church itself is architecturally unexceptional, with considerable Victorian restoration, and only a stoup and a font of its medieval fittings. The churchyard is polygonal and equally unexceptional.

Fenestration except for ground level window on south is all Victorian. It is impossible to determine whether these have been inserted into an otherwise largely medieval structure or whether the walls are at least partly rebuilt - the quoins seem to imply that some rebuilding has occurred.

Porch has original roof, but doorways are Victorian and again much of this cell could have been rebuilt.

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


There is no satisfactory information on when this church was founded.

It does not appear to be recorded in either of the 13thC Taxatios or in the 16thC Valor Ecclesiasticus.

The windows were inserted and other repairs were undertaken by C. Buckeridge in 1868.


Llanfihangel church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a south porch near the south-west corner of the nave, and a north vestry off the chancel. The church is aligned south-west/north-east, but for the purposes of this description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabric: irregular blocks of grey, fine-grained sedimentary rock some with quartzite veins, and occasional conglomerate blocks; also some brown and red stone; irregularly coursed. Quoins of dressed buff-yellow sandstone.

Roofs: slates, ceramic ridge tiles, and cross finials on all gable ends.

Drainage: traces of a drain around all sides except the west and around the vestry.


Nave and chancel. General. No external differentiation between these elements. Haslam suggests core of building could be 13thC.

North wall: wall bulges slightly. Two windows to west of vestry, one lighting the chancel to east. All are Victorian trefoil-headed lancets, chamfered dressings in grey-brown sandstone. Equivocal signs of insertion of nave windows.

East wall: wall battered to height of 1.2m, and along part of the wall base is a plinth projecting for c.0.1m, its significance unclear. Victorian east window has two-centred arch with stopped hoodmoulding, three lights, and a relieving arch. There are no convincing signs that this window has been inserted but the roughness of the masonry is such that an insertion might not be discernible.

South wall: chancel wall battered as on east side; partly ivy covered. Nave also has batter with irregular masonry showing, but higher up the blocks are more regular than on north side, and this perhaps indicates more careful selection. Three standard Victorian windows and the most westerly does show signs of having been inserted. In addition there is a small window almost at ground level, its base about 1m off the floor. This has its original cusped head and probably its original jambs. By analogy with Llanfilo this could be a leper's or hermit's window.

West wall: irregular wall face with slight bulging; slight batter which is more noticeable towards north end; here, too, foundation stones project but stop abruptly at quoinstones suggesting that these are later. The quoins themselves are in yellow freestone, as is the Victorian two-light window. This has a two-centred arch, trefoiled lights, hoodmoulding with stops and relieving arch. Above this high in gable is a blocked rectangular embrasure with dressings of no great age: Griffiths of RCAHMW thought this might have been a niche for a crucifix. It is likely that part of this wall has been rebuilt.

Vestry. General. Masonry and quoins are comparable with those in nave; trefoiled lancets in north and east walls. Church bell hangs from iron bar running diagonally from vestry wall to chancel wall.

Porch. South wall has high two-centred arch in pink sandstone, chamfers with broach stops, stopped hoodmoulding and relieving arch. Standard quoins at angles.

East and west walls: plain, the latter partly covered in ivy.


Porch. General. Flagged floor, unplastered walls. Roof has main truss with arch-braced collar, and there are ribbed purlins, the whole possibly early 16thC.

North wall: two-centred arch in pink sandstone, broach stops to chamfers, hoodmoulding with stops; cf outer doorway.

East and west walls: stone benches with wooden plank seats; otherwise plain.

Nave. General. Black and red tiled floor; carpet along aisle and into chancel, but no vents; flush wooden boarding under benches. Plastered walls. Uninterrupted seven-bay roof extends into chancel (three bays); arch-braced collars with raking struts above; panelled wall plates; early 16thC.

North wall: leans outwards and particularly thick (1m+); two splayed windows; one modern marble mural tablet commemorating 16thC and 19thC individuals.

South wall: walls leans outwards; one window; stoup with corbel set in wall above it.

Chancel. General. One step up from nave to chancel, one to sanctuary, a third to altar. Tiled floors, partly carpet covered; choir stalls on wooden boarding. Walls as in nave. For roof see nave.

North wall: Caernarvonarched doorway to vestry with broach stops to chamfers. Splayed window with quatrefoiled piscina cut in sill.

East wall: disconformity in wall face just below window springer level could indicate structural change.

South wall: three windows, the small ground level window having an asymmetrical splay away from the altar.


Contrary to Haslam's contention the churchyard at Llanfihangel is not circular, but an irregular polygon with one side - the south-east - faintly curved. There is no convincing evidence for modification of this circuit except on the south-east (see below), though in appearance it looks as though the south-west side has been cut back, and recently the west corner has been truncated.

The ground within the churchyard is flattish, though there is a gentle slope down in the northern sector. Its situation is best described as a spur with the ground falling away gently in all directions except the west.

The churchyard is used for modern burial but is not well maintained with brackens and brambles in several places.

Boundary: the form of the boundary varies: on the south-west it consists of a stony bank with a hedge on top; on the north there is a bank with bushes on top and this continues around the north-east side where the inner slope to the bank becomes pronounced, around the east and around the south. A hedge or wire fence surmounts the bank. On the north and south there is some indication that the interior of the churchyard is slightly raised.

Monuments: these are concentrated to the south and south-west of the church but they are sparse and predominantly 19thC and 20thC.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: inside the south-eastern perimeter of the churchyard is a low scarp. There is at least a possibility that this is the original boundary and that the hollow beyond is an accompanying ditch.

Ancillary features: double wooden gates provide the main access from the south-west. There is however a grass path leading to the south-east, and a disused gateway.

Vegetation: bushes, small trees and pines edge the perimeter. Irish yews line the path from the gate to the porch, and a more mature common yew lies beyond the east end of the chancel.

Sources consulted

Church Guide n.d.
CPAT Field Visit: 26 March 1996
Dawson 1909, 106
Haslam 1979, 339
NMR Aberystwyth
Andrew, John, pers. comm. 2010
Click here to view full project bibliography

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 Llanfihangel Brynpabuan 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 ( 22:00:50 ).
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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