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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Tetti , Llanddetty

Llanddetty Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Talybont-on-Usk in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1280720231.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16818 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanddetty Church, CPAT copyright photo CS955017.JPG

Summary

St Tetta's church at Llandetty is set beside the River Usk 12km south-east of Brecon. A simple structure, it has little in the way of diagnostic features that pre-date the 15thC, though conceivably the masonry shell could be 13thC. Internally there is a 9thC pillar stone and a medieval font, but nothing else of pre-Reformation date. The churchyard is curvilinear, and this together with the dedication points to an early medieval establishment.

Masonry shows little differentiation, except where there are irregularities above window level on the north side. This apart, if there has been significant rebuilding it is not apparent. West door could be 13thC or earlier, and the plan of the building could be 13thC, but all the windows are late Perpendicular.

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

History

While the original location of the pillar stone cannot be established with certainty, the dedication to an obscure British saint, the riverside location, and the churchyard morphology point to an early medieval beginning.

Its history, generally, is obscure, but in the Taxatio of 1291 it was recorded as 'Ecclesia de Landetten' at a value of 4 6s 8d. Interestingly, at the time of the Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535) its value had leapt to 17 10s 7d, considerably higher than some neighbouring churches.

Glynne on a visit in 1864 noted the large south porch and the completely whitewashed exterior, attributing the whole building to the Perpendicular period, though the windows on the north side appeared to be later insertions. The interior was pewed.

Restoration occurred in 1878 and the ceiling was replaced in 1934.

Architecture

Llanddetty church comprises a nave and chancel as a single cell, and a south porch towards the west end of the nave, and a west bellcote. It is aligned south-east/north-west but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabric: this consists of slabs and blocks of dark red sandstone, with some boulders of varying size, irregularly coursed, with larger foundation stones; roughly dressed quoins.

Roofs: stone tiles, with simple semi-circular terracotta ridge tiles.

Victorian bellcote at west end with stepped sides, two apertures containing bells, with hoodmould and stops on east side only.

Drainage: cambered gully, overgrown in places; not really obvious on north side.

Exterior

Nave and chancel. General. Treated as one because of lack of differentiation externally.

North wall: heavily pointed. Base of wall slightly battered and wall face occasionally irregular, particularly above windows . Three windows, from west: i) two-light window with chamfered dressings, the sill early but the rest Victorian; ii) window with two trefoil-headed lights, chamfered dressings with two varieties of yellow sandstone that are Victorian or later, imitating windows on south; iii) rectangular window in red sandstone, two lights with simple, flattish two-centred lights showing some weathering.

East wall: battered base; fabric appears to be standard, but heavily pointed and well-weathered. Perpendicular east window has three lights with cusped heads and panel tracery above; the window itself has a two-centred arch and has chamfered dressings in original red sandstone.

South wall: again heavily pointed. Three windows and two doors. From east: i) square-headed window of two lights with trefoil heads, and jambs that have hollow chamfered mouldings and stops; in red sandstone; ii) Tudor priest's door with low four-centred arch and double hollow chamfers, all in red sandstone; the old door has been rebuilt and reinforced; iii) window as i) but tracery more weathered; iv) porch; v) window as i) and iii) but weathered and some of the tracery patched.

West wall: face is irregular with hint of a batter and traces of limewash. Blank wall face except for a blocked doorway with large jambstones of grey sandstone, alternating between long and short in size and rising to ?springer level. The infill cannot be differentiated from 'A', and it is not possible to distinguish the shape of the arch.

Porch. General.

East wall: irregular wall face with rough surface; appearance of masonry suggests front (south) wall may be replaced. One slit window with a metal grille mortared into position.

South wall: wall appears to be of standard fabric though the masonry is perhaps more regular, and the quoins are of large regular blocks. At the south-east angle a flat slab projects at ground level. Entrance via two-centred arch turned in voussoirs which could have been reconstructed; metal-grilled porch doors.

West wall: as east wall.

Interior

Porch. General. Flagged floor, some certainly re-used 18thC graveslabs though not all are legible. Walls plastered. Roof of simple collars and rafters, with some of the timber re-used.

North wall: Tudor doorway with four-centred arch, and old wooden door with vertical moulded battens and nail-studded panels.

East wall: stone bench with wooden seat; slit window broadly splayed.

West wall: as east wall.

Nave. General. Flagged floor covered with carpet, but at least one stone exposed near pulpit is graveslab of 1679, and RCAHMW records that much if not all of nave paved with slabs of 18thC date; benches raised on wooden boarding. Walls plastered. Wagon roof of 144 panels with ribbed braces and purlins runs full length of the church and is a reproduction of 1934. West end is partitioned off to provide vestry.

North wall: wall face slopes outwards above window level, matching change in external face; splayed windows; wall painting of coat-of-arms with framed description by Parkinson of RCAHMW adjacent; two 19thC brasses.

South wall: splayed windows; 19thC and 20thC brass and marble plaques.

West wall: at a height of about 3m, wall face outset, presumably for earlier roof or gallery support.

Chancel. General. One step up from nave to chancel, another to sanctuary. Carpet covered floor, though wooden boards under stalls; RCAHMW records that there are three 17thC graveslabs set in the sanctuary floor. Walls and roof as nave.

North wall: 19thC and 20thC marble tablets.

East wall: splayed window; sunken round-headed recesses either side of window presumably originally carried painted boards.

South wall: priest's door sealed off - pillar stone freestanding in its alcove.

Churchyard

The churchyard comprises a semi-oval area abutting the Usk, though a relatively modern extension has taken in the ground between this original core and the road that passes about 40m to the south of the church. Most of the original churchyard is relatively flat although the ground rises gently along the southern perimeter, and drops away on the north side of the church.

It is reasonably well maintained but burials are restricted to the extension on the south.

Boundary: of variable form. On the east is a stone wall, around the north-east corner and on the north nothing but a bramble hedge above the drop to the river, though later this is reinforced by a fence, the west also has a stone wall, but where the churchyard has been enlarged the wall has been removed and there is now only a scarp bank disguising the foundations. There is no evidence to suggest a raised yard.

Monuments: these are evenly spread in the southern and western parts of the old churchyard, but marked graves are absent on the north. A reasonable number of 18thC monuments survive, particularly beside the path to the lychgate, and as ledgers to the east of the chancel (1697 and 1729).

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: none other than the old southern perimeter (above).

Ancillary features: old entrance is south-east of church in form of stone and timber lychgate, now used infrequently, nor was it at the time Mrs Dawson wrote. Main entrance now from south-west through modern double iron gate. Tarmac and grass paths.

Vegetation: four yews, including three older ones between lychgate and east end of church.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 18 August 1995
Dawson 1909, 95
Glynne 1886, 280
Haslam 1979, 328
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 Llanddetty 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 ( 22:00:43 ).
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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