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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cynidr and St Mary , Aberyscir

Aberyscir Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Yscir in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0003629672.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16704 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Aberyscir Church, CPAT copyright photo 413-07.JPG

Summary

Aberyscir church is dedicated to St Mary and St Cynidr and occupies a sub-triangular churchyard, 5km to the west of Brecon. The church has little of architectural merit, having been rebuilt in the Victorian era, and there are few fittings that fall within the scope of this project.

Some of the medieval fabric may survive in the base of the north wall and at the south-east corner, and the main north door is certainly medieval, but almost all of the building is a Victorian rebuild.

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

History

The origin of the church is unknown, but an early medieval beginning seems quite plausible.

The Saint Davids' Episcopal Register records 'Abbeskeir' in 1400, and in the Valor Ecclesiasticus 'Abrysker' was valued at 3 6s 1d, a low figure in the mid 16thC.

In the early 19thC it was recorded as having nothing more than an earth floor, and Jones termed it 'a miserable little building with a shed at one end'. Its reconstruction was undertaken by C.Buckeridge in 1860.

The vestry was added in 1884.

Architecture

Aberyscir church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a porch and vestry both attached to the north side, and a bellcote at the west end of the nave. The building has a south-west/north-east orientation, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' is of regular blocks and slabs of grey and pink sandstone, showing some coursing; dressings in similar material. 'B' is similar to 'A' but masonry is rougher, less regular.

'A' is Victorian masonry, 'B' could be either re-used masonry or original undisturbed medieval stonework.

Roofs: steep slated roof, continuous over nave and chancel; porch has red clay tiles and cross finial.

Drainage: no drainage cut obvious.

Exterior Porch. General. Victorian in Fabric A, a pointed archway with stopped-chamfers providing access.

Nave and chancel. General. Fabric A; very occasional traces of plaster on south side.

North wall: base slightly battered and bottom 1m or so is in 'B'. Three Victorian windows of standard type (see south wall).

East wall: a slight batter at base, but 'A' throughout though heavy ivy cover. Victorian window of three lights with hoodmoulding and relieving arch. Four late 18thC and early 19thC mural tablets pinned to wall, three of them broken.

South wall: possible earlier foundation shows at south-east corner, but this is quickly covered by rising ground level further west. Chancel has small trefoiled light and priest's door with two-centred arch, stopped-chamfers and a relieving arch over: both Victorian. Nave has three windows each with two trefoiled lights in grey sandstone.

West wall: all in Fabric 'A'. Bellcote foundation projects and has battered base and ashlar quoins. Bellcote is substantial structure with two bells, an integral part of the overall design. Window in wall beneath.

Vestry. General. Later than nave having been added in 1884, with subterranean boiler room approached by door in west wall.

Interior Porch. General. Stone flagged floor, simple collar roof, plastered walls, stone benches on the sides and an octagonal stoup set out from west wall. Giving access to nave is broad low doorway, with a two-centred arch and chamfers with simple V-stops it could be as early as the 13thC but Haslam suggested it was 15thC. Whichever, it is the only medieval architectural feature surviving in the church.

Nave and Chancel. General. Flagged floor, including one worn graveslab in nave except for tiled strip at west end; wooden boards beneath benches. Chancel floor is carpeted with three steps up to sanctuary. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Nave roof is barrel vaulted; the chancel has wagon roof, painted blue; a main arch-braced truss painted red and springing from corbels, replaces chancel arch. Old timber used in this roof according to Dawson.

West wall of nave has foliate cross slab set against it, and adjacent to it a fireplace with a chamfered arch over.

Churchyard

Aberyscir churchyard is sub-triangular in form and lies back from the tip of a spur isolated by the confluence of the Rivers Ysgir and Usk; on its north side is a shallow dry valley.

The ground enclosed in the churchyard is relatively flat except at the east end where it starts to tip toward the Ysgir.

Churchyard is well-maintained and is still used for burials - most recently in 1991.

Boundary: On north-east side a stone revetment wall on the sloping ground gives way to a scarp bank which may disguise a continuation of the wall. At north-west corner in vicinity of entrance is a well made stone wall, with little evidence in this quarter that the interior is raised. Stone wall continues on south and here some evidence of lower ground level externally, though in part this could be due to natural slope.

Monuments: these are relatively dense on the south and west, the older monuments going back to the 1770s on the south, though most are of the 19thC. Those on the north are predominantly 20thC. Many show the usual degree of weathering and some are broken or tipped over.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: north of the church a faint platform is detectable, curving underneath eastern end of nave. If not natural its purpose is unclear.

Ancillary features: double iron gates, small and ornate on the north-west, with a small old-fashioned street lamp just inside. Tarmac path leads to porch.

Vegetation: two mature yews by path; conifers and deciduous trees around boundary.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 14 September 1995
Dawson 1909, 1
Haslam 1979, 280
NMR Aberystwyth
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 Aberyscir 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 ( 22:00:30 ).
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 - chrismartin@cpat.org.uk, website - www.cpat.org.uk.

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