CPAT logo
Back Home
Index to Brecknockshire Churches survey

Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Afan , Llanafan Fechan

Llanafan Fechan Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Cilmery in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN9728750337.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16805 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanafan Fechan Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0637.JPG


St Afan's church at Llanafan Fechan, now usually called Llanfechan, lies about 7km to the west of Builth Wells. The church has little pre-Victorian significance having been rebuilt in the later 19thC and, the font apart, nothing of medieval date in the way of furnishings and fittings. The churchyard was originally sub-circular and the church itself occupies an artificial mound.

Whole structure rebuilt in 1866, perhaps using older masonry in places.

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


The church dedication and the morphology of the churchyard may indicate an early medieval beginning, but there is little documented history to this remote church.

It does not appear in the 13thC Taxatios, but the St David's Episcopal Register contains a reference to 'Nanavan' in 1407 which is thought to apply to this building. It appears to have been a chapel dependent on Llanafan Fawr, but by the early 20thC was attached to Llanganten.

The church was rebuilt in 1866 by C. Buckeridge.


The church at Llanafan Fechan (otherwise known as Llanfechan) consists of a nave and chancel in one, a vestry off the chancel and a south porch near the south-west corner of the nave. The church is oriented north-east/south-west, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabric: regular blocks and slabs of grey and red slightly shaly sandstone, small to medium in size; quoins are dressed blocks of same material.

Roofs: slates, ceramic ridge tiles, cross finials at end of chancel and on porch.

Bellcote of standard form in dressed stone, opposed trefoil-headed apertures, and a single bell.

Drainage: narrow trench around all of the church with downpipes debouching into it.


Nave and Chancel. General. Wall bases have chamfered plinth to height of c.0.4m.

North wall: possibly there may be earlier masonry built into this wall, but generally Victorian fabric. However, heavy lichen disguises any fabric changes. Four windows in all, having single trefoil-headed lights, except for one double-light window in nave; dressings of pinkish grey sandstone.

East wall: two-centred arched window with three stepped lights having trefoil heads, and a hoodmoulding - the standard form for the building. One mural tablet of 1779.

South wall: four standard windows, again all single lights except for a double light in the nave opposite that in north wall. Dressings in yellow sandstone. Buttress marks the division between nave and chancel.

West wall: centre of wall is thickened to carry bellcote. Into this thicker wall is set a trefoil-headed lancet with a relieving arch over.

Porch. General. Standard fabric. Entrance via a two-centred arched doorway with broach stops to the chamfers; a light over the arch.

Vestry. General. Probably an addition to the chancel. Fabric appears to be dark fine-grained sandstone with occasional anomalies such as quartzite. East window is simple lancet; quoins are of standard type.


Porch. General. Red and black tiles for floor; plain, unplastered walls; roof of collars and rafters.

North wall: doorway with two-centred arch, broach stops to chamfers, and hoodmoulding.

Nave. General. Tiled floor, flush wooden flooring with hardboard over it beneath the benches. Plastered and whitewashed (or pink washed) walls. Roof of five bays with arch-braced trusses on corbels, king struts, and several close set collars between each truss. Roof runs across nave and chancel, the only difference being that the wooden panelling behind the nave rafters is whitewashed.

Chancel. General. Two steps up to chancel, two to sanctuary; floor of patterned tiles. Caernarvon-arched doorway to vestry.


St Afan's church occupies a sub-rectangular raised churchyard, though there is more than a hint of curvilinearity to two of the sides. The ground is fairly level internally, but for a slight slope to the south of the building (and see below for the mound). Externally, there is a drop into a valley on the north but otherwise the location is a gently undulating ridge.

It is well-kept though somewhat overgrown to the east of the chancel, and is used for modern burials.

Boundary: on the south there is a substantial retaining wall, with a drop of 1.8m to the road; this continues round to the south-east, but is then replaced, opposite the farmhouse, by a scarp bank, perhaps 0.7m high with a fence on top. The fence together with bushes continue around the north side, where the external ground level is about 0.5m lower. Dense vegetation edges the churchyard on the west.

Monuments: these lie to the south, west and east of the church but not in any great numbers. The older ones, including a few very worn late 18thC stones, are to the east and south-east.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: the church is perched on a mound, at least one metre high on the west, and some 25m in diameter. Traceable on the north and east, it coalesces with the general slope on the south. There are traces, too, of the earlier course of the 'llan' just outside the present northern perimeter, but nothing in the former garden to the west, which looks to have truncated the original line.

Ancillary features: small, double metal gates and an adjacent latched gate give access to the church from the east side via a concrete path.

Vegetation: one reasonably mature yew tree to the east of the chancel, and a second one by the path, a short distance to the south.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 21 March 1996
Dawson 1909, 111
Haslam 1979, 326
Powys SMR
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 Llanafan Fechan 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 ( 22:00:41 ).
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 -

Privacy and cookies