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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Brynach , Llanfrynach

Llanfrynach Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llanfrynach in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0752325791.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16859 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanfrynach Church, CPAT copyright photo CS974436.JPG

Summary

St Brynach's church is situated in the centre of Llanfrynach village some 4km from Brecon. It is a Victorian structure attached to a medieval tower and contains only a few items of interest, namely the only survivor of three early medieval stones found during the rebuilding of 1885 and a medieval font. The churchyard is large for a village church and may once have been more curvilinear than it now appears.

Tower is attributed to 14thC, though it is as likely to be 15thC, but rest of the building dates from 1885.

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

History

An early medieval foundation here seems likely, though the dedication and the three reputedly sculptured stones apart there is no evidence to collaborate such a view.

The 1291 Taxatio records 'Ecclesia de Lambernach' at the unexceptional value of 4 6s 8d.

The nave and chancel were replaced by a local builder, William Jones, in the Decorated style in 1885. The rood loft which functioned as a gallery according to Theophilus Jones was removed a this time and of three early medieval stones found at the time only one can now be located.

In 1864 the tower wall was broken through to create space for a set of pews for the de Winton family. A west window was created at the same time. The vestry was added in 1892, the tower was re-roofed in 1905, and internally the font was re-dressed in 1892.

Architecture

Llanfrynach comprises a nave with a slightly narrower chancel, a west tower of the same width as the nave, a north vestry with a boiler room underneath, and a south porch towards the south-west corner of the nave. It is aligned north-east/south-west but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of greyish red sandstone, though with some variations in colour, in both blocks and slabs, irregularly coursed and with ashlar quoins. 'B' is of more regular blocks and slabs, less weathered, and randomly coursed. All this stone looks new and there are buff-yellow sandstone dressings.

Roof: reconstituted clay tiles. Cross finials on chancel and porch.

Drainage: there are no obvious signs other than downpipes into raised drain holes against the walls. It is possible that any trench around the wall has now grassed over.

Exterior

Tower. General. Fabric A. Wall faces are heavily pointed, obscuring the masonry. Certain features are consistent to all faces: there is a chamfered plinth at a height of 1m, a string-course in rounded section at 1.5m, a string-course defines the top of the second stage about two-thirds of the way up the tower, and a third with hollow moulding at the top of the belfry stage; above this is a battlemented parapet, which Griffiths of RCAHMW thought was modern. The whole tower is usually attributed to the 14thC.

North wall: at base of second stage is a trefoil-headed lancet of buff sandstone with a relieving arch over, completely Victorian, inserted. This stage also shows some possible plaster remnants. Belfry is lit by a four-centred arched window, the two lights having cusped tracery and louvre boards; some of the dressings renewed.

East wall: nave apex reaches to just below the second stage string-course. Third stage has standard belfry window but not possible to determine whether any of the dressings renewed. Two waterspouts on the string-course above.

South wall: second stage has an inserted Victorian window as in north wall. At the top of this stage there is also a slit window with unchamfered jambs and a lintel that is splayed on the underside. This slit is blocked up as is part of the standard belfry window in the third stage.

West wall: the second stage carries a large two-light window of Victorian date, and above it is a slit window with undercut lintel as on the south side. The standard belfry window has some renewed tracery, and there are two waterspouts on the string-course above.

Nave. General. Fabric 'B'. Plinth with chamfer at height of between 0.3m-0.6m. Windows of regular form and all have relieving arches in 'B'.

North wall: two two-light windows. Buttress overlies junction of nave and tower.

South wall: three two-light windows, having quatrefoils above, hoodmouldings with ballflower stops; two buttresses, one at south-east angle, the other overlapping tower wall as on the north.

Chancel. General. Similar to nave in terms of fabric, plinth, windows etc. The roof is lower by almost one metre.

North wall: almost completely disguised by vestry.

East wall: three-light window with cusped tracery, hoodmoulding with weathered human-headed stops, relieving arch; two diagonal buttresses at corners.

South wall: one two-light window with trefoiled heads, hoodmoulding with ballflower stops, relieving arch.

Vestry. General. Boiler house beneath with flight of steps leading down to it. Door plus windows are square-headed and the latter have lights with mock Caernarvon arches. Blocked window in east wall.

Porch. General. Fabric 'B'.

East wall: one trefoiled window with a 'decorative' relieving arch; buttress at south-east angle.

South wall: high-pitched gable end. Two-centred arched doorway with complex mouldings and a hoodmoulding with ballflower stops. Old gravestones leant against wall.

West wall: as east wall.

Interior

Porch. General. Stone flags for floor, plastered walls; roof of rafters with collars.

North wall: Gothic arched doorway with complex moulding and ballflower stops to the hoodmoulding. Plain wooden door.

East wall: small splayed window with stone bench beneath.

West wall: as east wall.

Tower. General. Floor is reached by two steps up from nave. Wooden floor with pews set on it. Plastered walls.

North wall: nothing significant.

East wall: high two-centred arch, chamfered on both faces but only above springing points. Early medieval stone (see below) attached to northern reveal.

South and west walls: nothing of significance.

Nave. General. Tiles, some decorated, and raised wooden floors under seats; no grilles or obvious heating ducts. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of spaced scissor-trusses with collars.

North wall: splayed windows, two-centred arched doorway of Victorian form to vestry. Three mural tablets, one of 1763/1785, the other two 19thC.

East wall: high two-centred arch with stops and responds. Galvanised steel plaques bear Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments.

South wall: splayed windows. Two mural tablets of 19thC and 20thC.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel and two to altar. Tiled floor with carpets over. Roof as nave but no scissor trusses.

North wall: has organ against it and two 19thC mural tablets.

East wall: galvanised reredos painted with 'Art Noveau' angels on either side of altar.

South wall: 20thC mural tablet.

Churchyard

Llanfrynach churchyard is exceptionally large and flat. Its present shape is sub-square and there is no evidence to indicate an earlier fossilised boundary.

It is overgrown on the east and north sides where there are fewer burial, but the areas of more recent burials are better maintained.

Boundary: the perimeter is defined by a stone wall, replaced by breeze block walling at the north-west angle.

Monuments: their spread is irregular. The area north-west of the church is currently in use, there is a single row east of the chancel, 19thC groups to the south of the church, and further graveslabs have been cleared and are now set against the east and much of the north wall of the churchyard.

Furniture: a churchyard cross, but of the 20thC, having been copied from one at Merthyr Mawr, Glamorgan, in 1910.

Earthworks: church is set on a slight platform, visible at the eastern end and around part of the north side. The earlier bank of the churchyard can be seen running about 2m outside the present eastern perimeter wall.

Ancillary features: small, double iron gates at the western corner, similar gates with the addition of a kissing gate on the south, both served by tarmac paths. On the south-east opposite the pub is a stone stile and on the north-east access from Ty-mawr was provided by a mock crenellated gateway; both of these served by grass paths. The rectory was linked to the church by a vertical stone stile in the north wall.

Vegetation: there are a number of large pines and deciduous trees on the north side of the churchyard and yews form both sides of an avenue running from the porch to the south gate with a few more by the grass path leading eastwards.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 16 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 73
Dawson 1909, 142
Haslam 1979, 341
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 Llanfrynach 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 ( 22:00:53 ).
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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