Brecknockshire Churches Survey
Church of St Teilo , Llandeilo'r Fan
Llandeilo'r Fan Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Maescar in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN8960234663.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16831 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.
St Teilo's church lies in remote country on the southern fringe of Mynydd Eppynt 16km north-west of Brecon. It is a simple structure with a nave and chancel in one, and a small bell turret; the windows are Victorian and there is little diagnostic
architectural detail, apart from a blocked priest's door. Inside, the 16thC roof, a font, stoup and part of the late medieval screen remain, as well as a fine early 17thC grave slab and a number of 19thC wall monuments. The churchyard may once had been
sub-circular and subsequent modifications have straightened out some of the boundary.
No date has been attributed to the fabric of this church. A blocked round-headed priest's doorway could conceivably take this back into the 12thC, though the evidence is hardly convincing. Also there is the anomaly of the gables on both sides, but this
must be a Victorian embellishment. Griffiths of RCAHMW was certain that the church had been almost entirely rebuilt, and Dawson too claimed it was rebuilt 'almost from the foundation in 1875', though the late medieval roof was preserved.
Certainly, all of the windows are Victorian, and of a standard design that probably does not mirror what was there before. Yet, some though not all seem to show signs of insertion.
Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam
Nothing is known of the early history of St Teilo's church, though the circumstantial evidence for an early medieval origin appears relatively strong.
It does not appear in either of the 13thC Taxatios, or in the Valor of 1535. However there is a reference in the St David's Episcopal Register in 1513 to 'Llandeylo Gornagh' which is believed to be an earlier name for Llandeilo'r Fan.
The church was supposedly much restored in 1873, though little information has been gleaned on the work.
Llandeilo'r Fan church consists of a nave and chancel as a single cell with a bell turret at the west end. It is oriented a little to the north of west.
Fabrics: 'A' consists of slabs of grey and dark red sandstone, together with a few lumps; this masonry is randomly coursed, and there are ashlar quoins.
'B' is of regular-coursed fine-grained tabular sandstone, with machine cut ashlar quoins.
Roof: slates showing some replacement, scalloped terracotta ridge tiles, and cross finials at gable ends.
Drainage: slab-lined trench up to 0.3m deep runs around the whole building, and is channeled beneath the buttresses at the west end.
Nave and chancel. General. Described as a single unit because of lack of external differentiation. Base of walls battered slightly and exposed in drain. All In Fabric A unless otherwise stated.
North wall: irregular appearance, tending to lean outwards near top of wall; traces of limewashed plaster at higher levels. Four windows, all having two-centred arches: two two-light windows, the lights with cusped heads, a larger example of the same with
a quatrefoil light above, and finally a single light to illuminate the chancel. The largest window has a gable over the top, the vertical face of the dormer flush with the north wall, which shows signs of disturbance with newer and more randomly coursed
masonry than 'A' around it, and exposed timber terminals projecting from the wall face. All the windows have yellow sandstone dressings of Victorian origin. The large window and the chancel window further east both have iron grilles.
East wall: 'A' but with some large blocks incorporated; plaster traces on gable. Window has a two-centred arch, three stepped lights, with smaller lights above, and a plain hoodmould, all in yellow sandstone. Window is Victorian, but wall could be largely
South wall: uniform masonry, except at west end, where about 4m from the angle, there is a clear change marking where the west wall has been built on. Windows as the north side in all respects; the main south door has moulded dressings, a hoodmould with
heavy stops and a pointed 'Gothic' arch. Towards the east end is a blocked priest's door, round-headed, poor voussoirs, dressed sandstone jambs, and the base of the doorway apparently 0.3m above the present ground level. Griffiths of RCAHMW thought this
was entirely modern and 'almost a Victorian fantasy'.
West wall: though some evidence that west wall has been rebuilt (see above), the masonry is still classed as 'A'. A single lancet in yellow sandstone with an iron grille in front. Also two buttresses in Fabric B, with string courses at the top of their
battered bases; stepped heads. Above eaves level, the gable has been heavily repointed.
Bell turret. General. It has a pyramid roof, and this plus the vertical sides are all slated, so completely enclosed. Fractionally overhangs the west end.
Nave. General. Tiled floor and no obvious heating vents, though carpet covered down the aisle; wooden boards under benches. Walls plastered and whitewashed except for dressings. 16thC roof across nave and chancel, of 13 bays with braced collars, and king
posts with trefoil heads in the openings between the struts. At the west end, Victorian panelling divides off the vestry.
North wall: splayed windows; two 19thC mural tablets.
East wall: simple screen, unornamented.
South wall: splayed windows; a small stoup close to the door, and a graveslab of 1614 against the wall and behind the font.
West wall: splayed window; wall otherwise plain except for a board recording a grant from Incorporated Church Building Society in 1873.
Chancel. General. Up one step from the nave with further steps to sanctuary and altar; floor of Victorian encaustic tiles, though partly carpetted. Walls as nave. For roof see nave.
North wall: two 19thC mural tablets.
East wall: aumbry to the north of the altar, shallow recess to the south of it; two 19thC mural tablets.
South wall: five monuments, all 19thC.
Curvilinear on its southern side where it adjoins a small stream, Nant Eithrin, Llandeilo churchyard has straighter sides on the north and east. This dichotomy is altered little by the addition of a rectilinear extension to the northern side earlier in
the century, yet it seems likely that encroachment by road and crofts modified the original boundary and that once the enclosure was more circular. It is perched on the edge of a river terrace and the interior is relatively level.
The extension is used for current burials and the graveyard is somewhat overgrown though not excessively.
Boundary: a low stone wall, which fronts an earthen bank nearly 1m high in places, defines the west, the east and some of the southern sides; it seems likely that the bank is a relic of an earlier earthwork boundary, and that around the southern perimeter
the churchyard is raised above the surrounding ground. On the south-west is the stream and here there is no boundary as such. North of the church a wall divides private properties from the graveyard, and a scarp bank separates the old churchyard from its
Monuments: these are spread throughout the churchyard and are particularly dense to the west and north-west of the church. No pre-19thC monuments were recognised but many to the east of the chancel are now illegible.
Earthworks: boundary scarp as noted above. On the south a low scarp curves around a few metres inside the present boundary and certainly represents the natural stream terrace. Whether it could also have been an earlier perimeter is impossible to ascertain.
Ancillary features: a modern lychgate on the east, its rubble walls abutting the churchyard wall, has a single broad wooden gate, but there is also a disused stone stile just to the north. Concrete paths.
Vegetation: five yews, two or three of which are set on the natural terrace to the south of the church.
CPAT Field Visit: 15 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 65
Dawson 1909, 102
Haslam 1979, 333
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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 Llandeilo'r Fan 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 ( 22:00:47 ).
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org, website - www.cpat.org.uk.
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