Brecknockshire Churches Survey
Church of St Michael , Llanfihangel Talyllyn
Llanfihangel Talyllyn Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llangors in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1142528399.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16857 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.
The church of St Michael and All Angels is located in the centre of Llanfihangel Talyllyn village some 7km to the east of Brecon. Parts of the church, particularly the chancel and perhaps sections of the nave, were rebuilt in 1870, but the tower and porch
appear to be 15thC, and the foundations of the nave even earlier. There is a Norman font in the church and a monolithic stone in the porch. The churchyard may once have been curvilinear.
The tower is Perpendicular with little in the way of later modifications, and the porch too appears to be 15thC. The nave is probably earlier, though whether 14thC or earlier cannot be determined. Notwithstanding this hypothesis it is likely that sections
of the nave were rebuilt at the time of restoration, though precise definition of these is not possible. The chancel is wholly Victorian.
Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam
The location of the churchyard and its putative curvilinearity suggest though do not prove the foundation's early medieval origin.
It does not feature in the Taxatios of the 13thC; but later records do refer to it: the St David's Episcopal Register for 1486 terms it 'Sci Michaelis juxta mara', and the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 has 'Llanvihangell Tallellyn'. But even in general
terms its later history is poorly documented.
About 1809 the church was described by Theophilus Jones as a whitened sepulchre, with an uneven earth floor. "The pulpit is a small sheep pen, the seats decayed and irregular, the windows are long narrow apertures". Not far from the door was a carved
fragment of the front of the oak rood loft. In the churchyard was the foot or socket of a stone cross.
It was restored in the 1870s and the rest of the rood loft or screen disappeared; in 1896 a tiled pavement was substituted for some of the old stone flooring.
Llanfihangel church comprises a nave, a slightly narrower chancel, with a vestry on its north side, a south porch off the nave, and a west tower. It is aligned north-east/south-west but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.
Fabrics: 'A' is of grey and red sandstone with small to medium-sized well-shaped blocks; larger blocks usually in red sandstone used for quoins; stonework shows some coursing.
'B' is of grey, red and orange sandstone, fairly fresh in appearance, and again large red sandstone quoins.
'C' is of regularly shaped red and grey sandstone blocks, randomly coursed.
Roofs: all roofs have stone tiles with semi-cylindrical terracotta ridge tiles. Cross finials are employed on the nave, chancel and porch gables.
Drainage: not in evidence.
Tower. General. Fabric 'A'. Perpendicular period. Double chamfered plinth, one at current ground level, the other at c.0.6m; there is also a rounded string-course at 1.2m. A second string-course, more angular in section, lies below the belfry stage, and a
third string-course is set beneath the battlemented parapet. Stair turret built into south-east angle.
North wall: about 2m off ground in the second stage is a slit window with chamfered dressings; a second smaller slit window is located just beneath the second string-course. Belfry is lit by a four-centred arched window with two trefoil-headed louvred
lights with sandstone dressings. Two waterspouts project from highest string-course. The whole wall face appears to have been cleaned.
East wall: nave roof rises to string-course above second stage. Standard belfry window but mullion and tracery replaced; no waterspouts above.
South wall: slit window in second stage as standard, but in addition, another smaller but similar example illuminates the stair turret in the south-east angle. A second centrally placed slit window, similar to that for the turret, is set just beneath the
string-course at the top of the second stage. The belfry window is of standard pattern but has had its mullion replaced. Two waterspouts project from the top string-course.
West wall: similar to the south wall though no stair window or waterspouts; belfry window has had central tracery and one mullion stone replaced.
Nave. General. Fabric 'B' but heavily pointed. Walls slightly battered at base. On north side it appears that lower part of the wall is earlier than tower, the upper part later.
North wall: there are subtle variations in this wall that suggest some rebuilding but they are impossible to define with precision; some limewash fragments remain. Three Victorian windows, one one-light and two two-light with cusped heads.
East wall: very little visible.
South wall: same fabric as north wall but not as fresh in appearance, and a rather uneven surface; some ivy cover. Two Victorian windows in same style as north wall, one with a single light and one with two. Again it is possible that rebuilding has
occurred during the 19thC restoration, not least because it is impossible to recognise where the windows have been inserted.
West wall: impossible to determine any relationship with the tower.
Chancel. General. Roof about 0.6m lower than nave. Fabric 'C'.
North wall: wall mostly covered by vestry which is in similar fabric.
East wall: three-light window with foiled lights above, all under a two-centred arch; hoodmoulding with human head stops; two buttresses, and a string-course which runs above these and below the window. All totally Victorian in design.
South wall: one trefoil-headed lancet, with holes for shutter.
Porch. General. Fabric 'A' but mainly small slabs. Pointing and vegetation mask the interfaces of nave and porch. Believed to date to around AD 1500.
East wall: completely covered by ivy.
South wall: round-headed doorway with chamfered sandstone dressings, and above it an empty niche with a triangular head.
West wall: one small squat glazed rectangular window with chamfered dressings, comparable with slit windows in tower.
Porch. General. Flagged floor. Unplastered walls. Roof has three arch-braced collars; cusped decoration above central truss and faces carved on soffits of both arch braces.
North wall: Fabric 'B' with two-centred arched doorway, chamfered dressings with stops near ground level; lower section inset slightly from wall face because of wall batter. Victorian door.
East wall: one small splayed window; stone bench.
West wall: as east side but 'Pagan' pillar stone in corner with notice that church replaced a pagan temple.
Tower. General. Two steps up from nave; flagged floor, includes one large rectangular slab though lacking any marks. Walls whitewashed and each has putlog holes. Wooden ceiling.
South wall: stair turret approached by one step and set partly within the tower rather than wholly in the wall. Doorway with chamfer on one side only.
West wall: mural tablets of 1785, 1768 and 1820.
Nave. General. Tiled floor with carpet over, but a 17thC grave slab beneath pulpit; wooden flooring beneath benches. Walls bare with no plaster. Roof of 28 close-set scissor braces intersecting with collars, and crenellated wall plates, all Victorian.
North wall: splayed windows; ghost of chimney flue on wall face; two mural tablets, of 17?? and 19thC date.
East wall: chancel arch of Victorian masonry, with ornate capitals.
South wall: splayed window; doorway reveal has slightly pointed arch, turned in slabs on edge.
West wall: obtusely pointed arch leads to tower, with chamfered sandstone dressings. Above it and disappearing behind the roof beams is a blocked window with chamfered jambs, the top invisible. Beside it are two small corbel-like projections of uncertain
function. Appearance of masonry suggests that the tower wall is later than the main nave walls.
Chancel. General. Two steps up from nave. Tiled floors with carpet over. Unplastered walls. Roof of arch-braced collar trusses, and collar and side purlins; crenellated wall plates. All Victorian, as are the stonework and the fittings throughout.
The churchyard has a tendency towards curvilinearity more in its rounded corners than in the straight sides. It is set on a slope, most noticeable to the east of the church where the ground drops to the Tawel Brook.
It looks as though the churchyard has been encroached on to the west and south, while the river terrace edge which runs from north-west to south-east across the yard to the east of the church might conceivably have formed a boundary in earlier times.
The churchyard is well kept and is still used for burial.
Boundary: along the southern side a stone wall and buildings revet the yard, and in places the external ground level is 1m or more below the graveyard level. Much the same happens to the east (above the track beside the stream), and on the north and
north-west, and on the west where the drop externally is as much as 1.5m. Also on the west there is some internal embanking which might indicate a former perimeter.
Monuments: these are spread widely and quite densely throughout the yard except in the north-west sector and beyond the terrace on the east. Gravestones south-east of the nave date back to the last two decades of the 18thC.
Earthworks: only the stream terrace on the east side.
Ancillary features: gates to the south-east and south-west of the church with tarmac paths.
Vegetation: several small yews all in the western half of yard.
CPAT Field Visit: 16 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 71
Dawson 1909, 164
Haslam 1979, 339
Jones and Bailey 1911, iii, 57-59
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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 Llanfihangel Talyllyn 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 ( 22:00:51 ).
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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