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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cannen , Llanganten

Llanganten Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Cilmery in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0093751761.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16863 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanganten Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0326.JPG


St Cennen's church at Llanganten lies beside the River Chwefri, some 2km west of Builth Wells. The church retains some medieval fabric, but there was considerable rebuilding and refenestration towards the end of the 19thC. The font is the only medieval fitting to have survived. The churchyard is an irregular shape and contains little of obvious interest.

Medieval(?) walls of nave survive, but Victorian windows and some rebuilding, and Dawson claimed that the roof had been raised. Of the chancel the north wall, east wall, and south-east angle are rebuilt, though there is an alternate possibility, as they are thicker, that they have been re-faced. South wall of chancel largely original. Porch probably Victorian using older materials.

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


The dedication and location of Llanganten church point to an early medieval beginning. The 1291 Taxatio records 'Ecclesia de Langanten' at the relatively low value of 4 6s 8d.

There is probably a medieval core to the present church but it was partially rebuilt in 1882 by Lewis Powell of Hereford. Glynne when he visited it in 1869 thought that the dedication might be to St Catherine. He believed the walls might be ancient but not the windows, except perhaps for the single narrow slit window with square top in the east wall.


The church consists of a nave and chancel, a south porch near the south-west angle of the nave, and a vestry designed as a lean-to against the west wall of the nave. Its alignment is south-west/north-east, but for descriptive purposes, 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabric: 'A' consists of randomly coursed slabs and blocks of grey, red and brown sandstone, some of it shaly, and including waterworn pebbles and quartzite; irregular appearance; numerous flecks of limewash. 'B' consists of more regular blocks of red and grey sandstone, some slabs; some coursing and an altogether more regular appearance than 'A'; limewash flecks are much less frequent. 'C' consists of grey and red sandstone blocks only, small to medium in size, and showing some coursing.

'A' is probably medieval, 'B' and 'C' Victorian.

Roofs: slates; toothed ceramic ridge tiles, except for porch; cross finials to nave and chancel.

Bellcote of well-dressed stone, opposing apertures, one bell; cross on top.

Drainage: nothing on north; possibly a rubble-choked gully around south, but disguised by brambles etc.


Nave. North wall: 'A' masonry, except where two simple lancets in pale freestone have been inserted, the masonry above them being 'B'. Quoins at north-west angle of red sandstone. Wall face between two windows has green mould covering which contrasts with fresher appearance of masonry elsewhere on this wall - reason? North-east corner of nave looks as though it has been truncated to allow insertion of chancel wall, any gaps being plugged with smaller stones.

East wall: nave about 1m higher than chancel; the kneelers and coping stones are Victorian, but the nature of the fabric cannot be ascertained.

South wall:- masonry of much of the wall is 'A', limewashed and lichened. But cleaner fabric with some limewash fragments but no lichen lies over the windows and along the upper part of the wall, suggesting that this has been rebuilt re-using some 'A' masonry. Two sets of paired lancets, obviously inserted.

West wall: mostly hidden by vestry, the rest with a render coating. Bellcote above.

Chancel. North wall: in 'B'; and out of line with north wall of nave. One window of two trefoiled lights in standard pale freestone.

East wall: probably 'B'. Three-stepped lights with trefoil heads.

South wall: in standard fabric 'A', but some variation in that medium to large blocks selected for the base of the south wall; the south-east angle is in 'B'. One double-light window of standard form with trefoil heads to the lights; clearly inserted into wall.

Porch. General. A variant of 'A' in that more blocks than slabs.

East and west walls: plain; limewash residue.

South wall: re-used 'A'? Two-centred arched doorway with stopped chamfers, pale Victorian freestone.

Vestry. General. Lean-to against west wall of nave. Fabric 'C'. Window on north side of same design and date as north nave windows; likewise the paired lancets on the west and the two-centred arched doorway on the south. Typically Victorian.


Porch. General. Tiled floor; plastered walls; rafter and purlin roof.

North wall: two-centred arch in buff sandstone, stopped chamfers.

East and west walls: stone benches with wooden seats.

South wall: small wooden gates into porch.

Nave. General. Tiled floor with carpet down the aisle; benches raised on wooden boarding. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Four-bay roof with collars, king and raking struts and ornamented wall plates.

North wall: two slightly splayed windows.

East wall: two-centred chancel arch, the innermost part of the arch of different coloured blocks of stone; hoodmoulding, stopped chamfers.

South wall: as north wall.

West wall: plain but for vestry door which has slightly peaked head.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel, another to sanctuary. Floor of black, red and yellow tiles. Walls as in nave. Lower roof than nave and of two wider bays than nave, but otherwise the same except that collars have extra arched supports.

North wall: splayed window; 20thC mural tablet and one of the Price memorials (see below).

East wall: plain apart from slightly splayed window.

South wall: as north wall but late 19thC mural tablet and the other Price memorial.


The church is sited eccentrically within a medium-sized sub-rectilinear churchyard, two sides of which are dictated by adjacent watercourses. It seems unlikely that its present form is a close reflection of its original shape, but the evidence for an earlier enclosure is at best ambivalent (see below).

The interior is flat for it perches on the lip of the terrace of the River Chwefru, at the point where a small tributary debouches into the river. The drop from the north wall of the church to the stream is immediate.

Boundary: the form of the boundary varies. On the north above the stream are bushes and a wire fence; on the south-west is a low bank, slightly irregular in its alignment, with a hedge on top; and on the south-east is an impenetrable hedge. The ground level outside the churchyard is fractionally lower around the south side.

Monuments: all of the yard has burials, quite well spread and with few densely packed spots. Many of the stones are lichen covered and unreadable, but there is a table tomb of 1729 against the south chancel wall, and some others of later 18thC date.

Furniture: none seen.

Earthworks: a low broad scarp, <0.2m follows a slightly curving course immediately to the south of the church, and the church itself therefore appears to be raised on a faint platform. There is also another faint bank to the south-west of the church but much closer to the present boundary. Neither is particular convincing, though the former is perhaps the more likely to define an earlier 'llan'.

Ancillary features: a farm gate at the south angle is the main entrance; a small latched gate by the east end of the church gives access to the valley below; and there is a wooden stile at the west end; the former gate to the vicarage has been hedged across. Grass paths.

Vegetation: one mature yew grows to the south-west of the church and there is a bushy yew beside the path to the gate.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 21 March 1996
Dawson 1909, 143
Glynne 1887, 280
Haslam 1979, 310
NMR Aberystwyth
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 Llanganten 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 ( 22:00:54 ).
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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