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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Maelog , Llandefaelog Tre'r-graig

Llandefaelog Tre'r-graig Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Felin-fach in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1263329895.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16826 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llandefaelog Tre'r-graig Church, CPAT copyright photo CS920611.JPG


St Maelog's church lies about three miles south-west of Talgarth in the old county of Breconshire. It is a simple structure with a doorway and several windows that may be pre-Reformation, as well as early masonry surviving in the walls. There is a Norman font and a good range of memorials and graveslabs in the building. However, it is now disused and its condition is deteriorating. Griffiths of RCAHMW classed it as an unexpectedly interesting little church.

The walls of the nave and chancel are probably largely original and the simple lancet on the north side could indicate a 13thC date. However, there has certainly been some rebuilding (e.g. the east wall), and the insertion of windows in the 16thC, the 18thC and the 19thC. The re-use of earlier masonry makes it difficult to date the surviving portions.

The porch has probably been rebuilt, re-using earlier materials.

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


The origins of the church are unknown, but an early medieval beginning is a strong possibility. It is certainly likely that a church stood here in the Norman period if the font can be taken as evidence.

The present building may date from the 13thC, but this dating is dependent on a small lancet in north wall. There were certainly some modifications in the 16thC (see the south chancel window).

It appears to have functioned during the Middle Ages and later as a chapel attached to Llanfilo. The Episcopal Register of St Davids refers to it as 'Llandevaylok' in 1400 and the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 records 'Llandevaylok Tref Grayg'.

By the beginning of the 18thC the church was in poor condition and it was rebuilt in 1710, a tablet in the chancel stating that the Reverend Gregory Parry rebuilt the church at his own expense, having found it in ruins.

Later works include the addition of the east window, and the replacement of the roof, and there is a record that in 1885 the old church was again in ruins.

During this century, perhaps in the 1950s, the church was abandoned for religious use.


Llandefaelog church consists of a nave and chancel in one with a south porch near the south-west corner and a bellcote over the west end. The church is oriented fractionally north of west.

Fabrics: 'A' is of small through to large blocks of grey and iron-stained sandstone, irregularly coursed; well-dressed blocks for quoins, sometimes in red sandstone. 'B' is of small to medium-sized slabs of grey sandstone.

Roofs: slates with ornamental ceramic ridge tiles, and ceramic cross finials over the end of the chancel and the porch.

The bellcote has wooden boarded sides with louvred openings above; slates on the roof and a cross on top.

Drainage: no convincing evidence, though on both the north and south sides there is a band which could define a completely filled trench.


Nave and Chancel. General. These form a single unit and are not distinguishable externally. It is suggested that this cell may be 13thC.

North wall: Fabric 'A' predominates and there are intermittent traces of limewash. A number of features which from the west are: i) a small slit window, its chamfers disguised by cement covering; ii) a rectangular wooden window (formerly red painted) with two round-headed lights, a wooden lintel and a stone sill. This is presumably inserted but there are no obvious tell-tale signs. East of this window are patches of 'B', indicative of either rebuilding or patching; iii) a small lancet window, narrow and also concreted in. It is set in Fabric 'A' and lights the chancel; iv) east angle cracking away from north wall.

East wall: in Fabric 'A' and though there are occasional limewash traces, it lacks the roughness of the north wall. Probably rebuilt in old masonry? At ground level for no more than 1m from the south-east angle, a foundation course protrudes for about 0.15m. East window has three trefoiled lights and is clearly Victorian (or later).

South wall: in Fabric A; massive red sandstone quoins for south-west angle. East of the porch, the upper part of the wall has very regular pointing that ignores the shape and size of the individual blocks. Then from west to east: i) mural tablet of 1848; ii) rectangular wooden window similar to that on north with two lights; iii) mural tablet of 1855; iv) lighting the chancel, a rectangular window of two ogee-headed lights with cusped tracery, and complex chamfers. Traces of limewash adhering to the tracery which could be original but the other dressings may have been replaced; 16thC, though it has been attributed a more precise date of c.1540.

West wall: plain and heavily pointed; the surface is rough and there is no obvious indication of rebuilding except perhaps for the top of the gable.

Porch. General. In Fabric 'A' with heavy pointing.

East and west walls: both carry small, unglazed, roughly chamfered lancets.

South wall: a broad four-centred Perpendicular doorway, its head barely pointed, with chamfered jambs terminating in bar stops. Above this is a datestone of 1710. There is no gate or door to this outer entrance.


Porch. General. Flagged floor, with one step up to nave; unplastered walls; high rafter and collar roof of no great age.

North wall: south door of church has segmental arch of edge stones, no dressed jambs, and a red painted, wooden door frame; a studded wooden door.

East wall: splayed window embrasure with wooden lintel. Stone bench set into wall; one of the flagged seats is part of a 17thC graveslab.

West wall: as east side but no obvious use of graveslabs.

Nave. General. Tiled floor at west end and down aisle; elsewhere, flush wooden boarding. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of multiple scissor trusses from 1901.

North wall: deeply splayed window embrasures with sloping sills, the wooden frames of the windows themselves painted white; two mural tablets of 1780 and 1781, and a graveslab of 1781.

South wall: splayed window embrasures as on north; rectangular door embrasure; mural tablets of 1777 and 1779, and a 17thC graveslab.

West wall: plain; five graveslabs set upright against it: 1633, 1645, 1636, 1617, and 174?.

Chancel. General. One set up to chancel from nave, one up to sanctuary and one to altar. Tiled floors throughout; choir stalls raised on wooden plinths. Walls as in nave. Roof also as nave except that collars added to the trusses; no differentiation over the nave/chancel divide.

North wall: window dressings unpainted; mural tablets of 1774 and 1790.

East wall: Victorian window. Mural tablet of 1844.

South wall: window as north wall; mural tablets of 1785 and 1833.


The churchyard is polygonal in shape, though there must be some doubt as to whether this was its original shape. There is no trace of an earlier circuit within the yard, but in the field to the south-west there appears to be a curvilinear bank which merits further attention.

The ground level within the present yard is flat, except for a faint slope east of the chancel. Its position on the west bank of Afon Llynfi is fairly typical, with a steep drop down to the river no more than a couple of metres away from the wall on the south-east and east sides. Elsewhere the ground is reasonably flat.

The churchyard is no longer used, trees have fallen over, and the only reason why the whole area is not overgrown is that it is accessible to sheep from an adjacent field.

Boundary: consists of a drystone wall, now in a poor state of repair and reinforced by a wire fence. On the north facing the road it is better condition, and here too there is a trace of a bank beneath the wall. The interior is raised slightly; this is more noticeable on the south-west and north, but the external drop is no more than 0.5m.

Monuments: There are a few to the south of the chancel but they are all 19thC. The most recent burials date from the 1920s.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: none within the churchyard.

Ancillary features: the main access is now a vertical slab stile in the north angle; there is also a wide wooden gate on the north-western side but this is evidently rarely used.

Vegetation: a number of mature yews and some old trees of other species ring the church just inside the perimeter boundary.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 14 March 1996
Dawson 1909, 123
Haslam 1979, 331
Jones and Bailey 1930, iv, 4
NMR Aberyswyth
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 Llandefaelog Tre'r-graig 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 ( 22:00:46 ).
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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