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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St David , Llanddewi'r Cwm

Llanddewi'r Cwm Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Duhonw in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0349348626.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16823 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanddewi'r Cwm Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0338.JPG

Summary

Llanddewi'r Cwm's church is not surprisingly dedicated to St David and sits above a shallow valley a little more than 2km to the south of Builth Wells. It is undistinguished architecturally with three Early English lancets in the chancel, and a tower which is presumably medieval in origin. Internally the only medieval furnishing is a font. The churchyard is interesting for its preservation of an earlier circuit within the present enceinte.

Tower is undistinguished architecturally and no date can be attributed to it.

Nave has little to date it as all windows have been replaced but if the replacements were copies of originals, the Y-tracery might suggest the beginning of the 14thC.

Chancel has Early English lancets, that on south perhaps in its original location, those on north re-set with at least one perhaps not in its original position.

Porch is 19thC.

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

History

Location and morphology point to an early medieval origin.

The church is mentioned in the Taxatio of 1254 as 'Landewycum' and valued at 1 6s 8d. In that of 1291 it appeared as 'Ecclesia de Londewycom & Lanveyr', an association with what was probably St Mary's church at Builth. There was an earlier reference to the period 1176x1198 when the church was given by the Bishop of St Davids to the church of St John and the monks of Brecon.

In 1847 it was restored by Joshua Daniels, and later restorations have also been claimed. Certainly a faculty was applied for in 1912, to replace window dressings, re-slate roofs, cut drainage trenches around the nave, work on the flooring internally, etc.

Architecture

The church comprises a nave, chancel, a west tower and a north porch close to the north-west angle of the nave. It is oriented a few degrees south of west.

Fabrics: 'A' is small to medium shale and siltstone slabs, mainly grey and grey-brown in colour, and occasional sandstone lumps used primarily at lower levels in wall facing and as quoin material; shale slabs for quoins higher up. 'B' is of regular dark grey shale (and occasionally some brown) in slabs and blocks, randomly coursed. 'C' is of small to medium slabs of brown to grey siltstone, random coursing; despite heavy pointing it is a distinctive fabric. 'D' is similar to 'B' but the slabs show a smoother cleavage, suggesting a finer grained material. Note too that 'D' is less weathered than 'C'. 'E' is of medium-sized blocks of grey stone.

'A' and 'C' are thought to be original medieval fabrics; 'B' and 'D' are probably Victorian; 'E' is Victorian or even later.

Roofs: new slates on nave, older ones on chancel; reconstituted clay ridge tiles; cross finial on chancel only. Tower has slated pyramidal roof with lead flashing.

Drainage: around the tower is a sunken strip, 0.4m-0.7m wide, and filled with rubble into which downpipes disappear. Concrete-lined shallow gullies on north and south of nave and chancel.

Exterior

Tower. General. Low pyramidal roof lacking weathervane or the like.

North wall: In Fabric A. Wall has bulges and cracks. In 1st stage at eye level, a triangular-headed window of grey shale blocks with an external if shallow splay, the trefoil-headed light in sandy-coloured sandstone; 19thC. East of this window is a patch of walling defined by a near vertical mortar line and rising to c.2m; the butt end of a large timber is exposed in the wall at this height; some of the fabric in cleaner grey shale enhances impression that this patch might be later infill, though its purpose remain uncertain. Belfry window is flat-headed and contains two louvred lights; these have unchamfered dressings and unconventional foiled heads.

East wall: apex of nave roof almost to tower eaves level. The top 0.5m could be rebuilt: newer pointing, less weathered and perhaps more regular fabric.

South wall: lichen covering disguises fabric, but almost certainly 'A'. However, at about 5m the south-west angle complete with its quoins is inset slightly, meaning that a vertical band as high as the eaves is not flush with the main south wall face: clear evidence of rebuilding.

West wall: like south, no windows and weathered masonry, but probably 'A'. Further evidence that south-west angle rebuilt, and poor bonding between the original masonry and this rebuild has left a distinctive vertical crack.

Porch. General. In Fabric B. Walls set on low chamfered plinths; stepped buttresses at north corners.

North wall: high gable over two-centred arch, voussoirs in grey shale, stopped chamfers; two wooden gates.

East and west walls: plain.

Nave. General.

North wall: in Fabric B. Wall has basal plinth at c.0.8m; five buttresses, all in regular masonry. Three two-centred arched windows each with two lights, Y-tracery, all in sandy coloured freestone; hoodmould with ornamental stops; wholly Victorian.

East wall: nave about 1.0-1.5m higher than chancel. What is visible appears to be in Fabric B.

South wall: as north wall but two windows of the standard type, though lacking hoodmould. Dawson claimed that this wall sported marks indicating an earlier entrance.

West wall: on north side this butts against tower face; relationship not determined on south side.

Chancel. North wall: much of wall is in Fabric C. However, more westerly window is set in an intrusive patch of 'D'; and eastern end including more easterly window also in 'D'. Both windows are lancets with grey and red freestone dressings, the red perhaps weathering to grey; occasional replacement stones; but despite a broadly similar appearance the chamfers of the two windows are different, that to east being simpler, and that to west having traces of plaster, missing from the other. Beside the more westerly window is a mural tablet of 1834. Top strip of this wall (<1m) is in Fabric E, and that part of the wall that butts against the nave has also been replaced in either 'D' or 'E', probably the former.

East wall: most of wall is in 'D' but upper part of gable and perhaps the infilling around the window is 'E'. East window has a broad two-centred arch with three stepped lancets and trefoils above them, and a red sandstone hoodmould. Two mural tablets of 1767 and 1826/1856.

South wall: partially ivy covered, creating problems of fabric identification. One lancet window comparable with the more westerly on the north wall, and this could be set in Fabric C and thus original. To the west is a priest's door, approached by one step; pointed head, worn stops to the chamfers in pink sandstone; probably original but some of dressings in exceptionally good condition.

Interior

Porch. General. Flagged floor. Boarded roof. East and west walls have wooden benches against them. South wall has round-arched doorway with stopped chamfers, wholly Victorian.

Tower. General. Floor of concrete with carpet over. Low wooden ceiling. Tower arch reveal lined in brick. Nothing of interest on walls.

Nave. General. Flagged floor with matting down aisle; no vents. Flush wooden boarding beneath benches. Walls plastered and whitewashed with a slight outwards lean. Four-bay roof with arch-braced collars springing from corbels, with king-struts above.

North wall: nothing of interest.

East wall: two-centred chancel arch with complex mouldings, in pink sandstone equivalent to the east window.

South wall: window dressings on this side, and one on north side appear to be more worn/weathered internally than externally.

West wall: simple two-centred arch to tower. Wall stepped in at height of c.3m. This and what can best be compared to an internal buttress in the north-west angle must be relics of the earlier nave.

Chancel. General. Chancel level with nave and one step up to sanctuary only. Flagged floor includes four graveslabs of 1767 (x 2), 1788 and 17?9. Walls plastered and whitewashed, and window dressing except for those of east window are painted. Open wagon roof over the chancel with moulded ribs over the altar.

North wall: one mural tablet of 1826.

South wall: Priest's door has wooden frame internally. One marble mural tablet of 1849.

Churchyard

The churchyard is sub-rectangular but this is a misleading guide to its original form, for there is evidence of a smaller, more circular enclosure fossilised within the present graveyard (see below). It occupies the lip of the small valley carrying Nant Gwyn to its meeting with the Duhonw a few hundred metres to the north-east. Additionally there are smaller dry valleys to the east and west. And the ground level within the churchyard reflects this location with the ground dropping away from the church on the west, south and east.

The churchyard is reasonably well-maintained and is still used for burial.

Boundary: now consists of a stone wall, in places rebuilt and well-mortared. Around the north and east the interior is raised but generally no more than 0.5m, and by the north-east corner there is a suggestion that the present stone wall may have had a predecessor. On the north there is some internal embanking and on the west the ground level externally may be 1m or more though this could be largely a result of the natural land fall. On the south-east the drop is closer to 2m.

Monuments: these are well spread throughout the yard, although there is clear ground on the north, and also on the west beyond what is assumed to be the earlier circuit. Localised densities exist particularly on the south. 19thC monuments predominate and include some gravestones leant against the wall in the north-east quadrant. The earliest one recorded was of 1792 against the wall near the north entrance.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: a scarp bank is discernible on the west, south and east, with a height of up to 1m on the south. There is also the possibility of a relict ditch beyond the scarp on the north-west side of the church. This suggests a sub-circular enclosure.

Ancillary features: a farm gate offers subsidiary access on the eastern side, but the main entrance is provided by double iron gates on the north, with an iron arch to support a light over the top. Concrete path to the church porch.

Vegetation: one yew tree of some age is set on the outer edge of the relict scarp in the south-east quadrant.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 7 March 1996
Dawson 1909, 88
Faculty 1912: NLW/SD/F/303
Haslam 1979, 330
NMR Aberystywth
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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 Llanddewi'r Cwm 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 ( 22:00:44 ).
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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