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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cattwg , Llangattock

Llangattock Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llangattock in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO2109117878.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16866 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llangattock Church, CPAT copyright photo CS972119.JPG

Summary

Saint Catwg's church at Llangattock lies in the valley of the Usk little more than one kilometre to the south of Crickhowell. The building comprising a nave and chancel with a north aisle and chapel of equal length is 13thC/14thC though all of the windows have been replaced, and parts of the walls rebuilt. At the west end is a fine tower, 16thC in date, though a much earlier origin has been claimed. There are few internal features of any age, but a fine collection of 18thC memorials in the tower, as well as the village stocks and whipping post in the north aisle. The churchyard was perhaps once more curvilinear than it now appears.

Nave has been claimed as 13thC, presumably on the basis of a single lancet west of the porch, though none of its dressings are original; nor is it certain that any of the masonry goes back that far.

North aisle could be 14thC though there is the possibility that much of the walling has been reconstructed and certainly its windows are Victorian replacements.

It has been claimed that both the north chapel and the chancel are of the same date as the north aisle, and this receives some confirmation from the internal arcade. Again the windows are wholly renewed, though the square-headed windows of the chancel do appear to suggest that the originals were inserted in the 16thC.

Tower generally of one build and attributable to 16thC (Haslam) though Griffith of RCAHMW thought the lower part was 14thC and the upper part 15thC. A 12thC predecessor has also been claimed, though on what basis is unclear.

Porches are 19thC additions, pace the church guide which claims the main porch is Tudor and the priest's porch was only repaired in 1843.

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

History

An early medieval origin seems certain: the dedication, location and morphology of the churchyard all point in this direction.

In 1291 the Taxatio records 'Ecclesia de Lancadok' with a value of 20, a wealthy establishment and probably one that had been a mother church in the early medieval era.

Various phases of building and rebuilding occurred during the Middle Ages and after. Restorations are documented in 1719, when six bells were hung in the tower, in 1785 when it was re-roofed, and in 1806 when its ceilings, pavements and seats were replaced. In 1843 with the chancel in disrepair further works took place including new windows and a gallery and organ at the west end.

Glynne visited the church, perhaps in the 1860s; the church was much as it appears today, but whitewashed except for the tower, though its battlements were so coated. His report carries no reference to the priest's porch.

The restoration of 1886 saw the removal of the box pews and the gallery, the lowering of the nave floor by 21", a new (main) porch replacing the existing one, the removal of a side chapel known as the Pew Chapel, a new font, etc. As the church guide points out there have been several other alterations during the 20thC with major repairs since 1979.

Architecture

Llangattock comprises a nave and chancel, the latter slightly narrower than the former, a north aisle with a north chapel attached to its east end, and together these are of the same length as the nave and chancel, a west tower attached to the west end of the nave, and two porches, one near the south-west angle of the nave, and the second providing access to the priest's door which is almost centrally located in the south wall of the chancel. In addition, a new church hall has been accommodated in the angle formed by the tower and north aisle. The church is aligned east-north-east/west-south-west but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A' is a mixture of grey and predominantly red sandstone slabs, small to medium in size, coursed but not uniformly; large quoins of red sandstone. 'B' is of mixed red, grey, yellow and buff sandstone, in irregular blocks and slabs, some random coursing; large red sandstone quoins. 'C' is of blocks and a few slabs of regularly shaped and predominantly yellow grey and buff sandstone. 'D' is of regular blocks of red sandstone, with cream-coloured dressings.

Roofs: reconstituted clay tiles. Broken cross finial on north chapel, cross finials on chancel and main porch.

Drainage: no convincing signs of drainage gullies.

Exterior

Tower. General. Claimed as 16thC, partly on basis of its west window. Not quite aligned with the nave. Stepped plinth with a lower chamfered moulding at c.0.7m, and the upper a more elaborately moulded string course at 1.3m. Further string courses, generally weathered and broken, above second, third and fourth (belfry) stages; the last of these has a waterspout on each side (two on the north side), and above it is a battlemented parapet. All the dressings are in red sandstone, but there is some difference in the masonry; though all of 'A'; the third stage is predominantly grey, while the fourth stage has more red sandstone - is this decorative, does it indicate a different supply of material, or could it have a chronological implication?

North wall: new church hall covers wall to middle of second stage. Belfry stage has small slit window with chamfered dressings at its base. Above this is the square-headed belfry window with two four-centred arched lights, weathered chamfered dressings, and louvre boards. In the north-east angle is the stair turret serving the tower; the string courses carry around it, and there is one slit window in the second stage; a weathervane is set on top of the turret which projects above the tower.

East wall: apex of nave roof to just below string course topping second stage; above the present roof, the mark of an earlier roof line with a steeper pitch is visible. Third stage has elongated chamfered slit, and the belfry stage has the main window as in the north wall. Stair turret projects above nave roof and has slit windows comparable with that on the north side, in the third and fourth stages.

South wall: bottom of third stage has a much weathered, chamfered, slit window. Belfry window standard and much weathered.

West wall: in second stage a large two-centred arched window having three lights with cusped heads and broad panels above; only the jambstones and the archstones are original, the rest renewed; and there is a relieving arch over the top. Standard slit windows in the third and fourth stages, and the belfry window also, as in the other walls.

North aisle. General. Roof pitched separately from that of nave. Fabric 'B' for the walls.

North wall: two three-light windows with moulded dressings, cinquefoil heads and panels though of different styles. That to west is all in red sandstone, but the dressings are not worn and could be renewed, and it has a relieving arch over. The east window is in yellow sandstone and is a complete replacement; it is also larger than its counterpart to the west, has a hoodmould but no relieving arch. The top 1m or so of the wall is in 'C' suggesting that the roof has been raised. Much of the wall is in 'B; but there are subtle variations in appearance, and it is conceivable that only the central portion between the two windows is original. To the west that portion holding the red sandstone window looks fresher, and that part of the wall to the east with the yellow sandstone window also looks slightly different, though this is a subjective view which is not assisted by the presence of vegetation against the wall. It should also be noted that beneath the east window is a platform of masonry, perhaps for a boiler house or some other structure. Whether it blocked the east window or even preceded it cannot be ascertained. A Victorian buttress provides the division between the north aisle and the north chapel.

East wall: roof has a different pitch to that of north chapel, the latter being sharper.

West wall: the new church hall effectively disguises the relationship between the north aisle and the tower; the window in this wall was reportedly Victorian.

North chapel. General. Perhaps a pre-Reformation Chantry chapel. Sides are battered to a height of around 1m. All in Fabric 'B'.

North wall: partially covered by now defunct ivy. Possible break in the fabric two-thirds of the way to the east, but could be no more than repaired crack and certainly there is no change in the fabric. One square-headed window with three cusped lights; the dressings are all replaced though the harmony of the red sandstone is broken by the inclusion of some light brown dressed stone; this is in same style as the more westerly window of north aisle. At the north-east corner is an angle buttress and above it is a beast's head kneeler, all Victorian.

East wall: weathered fabric 'B'. The window has three lights with cinquefoil cusping, panels, a hoodmould and is similar to the more easterly of the north aisle windows, though there are also head-stops to the hoodmould and a relieving arch; some signs that window inserted into wall.

Chancel. General. Fabric 'B'. Wall base battered to height of c.0.5m.

East wall: window is same as that in east wall of north chapel in all respects, and there are some signs of insertion particularly on its north side; also signs that the wall was limewashed prior to the insertion. Buttress at junction of chancel and north chapel disguises any relationship between the two cells. Beast's head kneeler at south-east angle and another for the spout taking the run off from the gully between the chancel and the north chapel.

South wall: in Fabric 'B' but top part of wall for the last 0.4m may be in Fabric 'C', though this might simply be a result of less weathering. Two three-light windows matching those in north chapel, though the labels with their head-stops above them are in brown sandstone; the window to the east has a mixture of colours in its dressed stones while that to the west is more uniform in appearance. Flat slabs laid over each as novel relieving 'arches'. The priest's porch is set between the two windows.

Priest's porch. General. Wholly Victorian. Grey sandstone masonry; bottom of wall is plinthed. The south door has a two-centred arch with complex mouldings and stops; plain side walls.

Nave. General. Three buttresses on south wall in grey Victorian sandstone.

South wall: cleaned fabric looks rather like 'C'. Quoins where visible are of grey sandstone, and the nave appears to abut the east wall of the tower. Two three-light windows, similar to west window in north aisle; no hoodmouldings or relieving arches. West of the main porch is a broad lancet in grey sandstone, clearly a modern insertion. Some if not all of this wall is rebuilt.

Main porch. General. Fabric 'D'. Wholly Victorian.

East and west walls: square-headed windows, the ogee-headed lights with cinquefoil cusping.

South wall: ornate ogee-headed arched entrance with floral ornament; ornate iron gates.

Interior

Main porch. General. Red tiled floor, bare walls and a simple modern roof showing only rafters.

North wall: fine 16thC four-centred arched doorway with complex mouldings in red-grey sandstone. An earlier porch roofline visible on the masonry above the doorway.

East and west walls: plain apart from the small, splayed windows.

Tower. General. Up one step from nave. Carpet over floor; walls plastered and whitewashed; wooden ceiling.

North wall: four-centred arch doorway to tower stair, stopped chamfers. Wall otherwise plain but sporting eight mural tablets of which two are covered by wooden casing.

East wall: fine two-centred tower arch with complex moulding.

South wall: plain with ten mural tablets.

West wall: deeply splayed window with sill much lower than window; three mural tablets.

North aisle. General. Tiled floor, benches raised on wooden block flooring, and at east end two steps up to platform. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Ribbed ceiling, perhaps 15thC. Arcade on south is of 14thC.

North wall: two splayed windows with four 19thC marble mural tablets between. Stocks and whipping post against wall at west end.

East wall: two-centred arch with stopped chamfers gives access to north chapel.

South wall: three bays of arcade with octagonal pillars and capitals, again with stopped chamfers; one mural tablet of 1800 above the second pillar from the west end. At the west end the wall exhibits a blocked doorway at a height of c.3.0m -?a gallery entrance.

West wall: new door to church hall with a splayed window above. Stair turret projects into south-west angle and is supposedly later than the aisle.

North chapel. Floor of wooden blocks. Walls as north aisle. Roof of four bays with simple principals, arch-braced collars and curving struts carved to trefoils. Organ fills much of west part of chapel; locked vestry to east.

North wall: one splayed window; a range of mural tablets; two of 1723 and 1807 are accessible, at least three others of?late 18thC or 19thC date are in the vestry.

East wall: one splayed window and one mural tablet.

South wall: two bays of the main arcade.

Nave. General. Floor as north aisle including the platform at the east end; walls and roof also as north aisle.

North wall: blocked doorway high up in wall at west end (see north aisle). West of it and running no more than 0.15m from the tower arch is a butt joint for almost the full height of what is visible of the wall - it is clearly related to the inserted tower stair turret. Mural tablet of 1788 over first pier. Between the springer of the third arch of the arcade and the springer of the chancel arch is a re-set corbel, possibly a griffin's head.

East wall: two-centred chancel arch springing from the second arcade pier from the east.

South wall: deeply splayed windows. 19thC brasses and marble mural tablets with one of 1795 near south door.

West wall: Tudor tower arch.

Chancel. General. Standard tiled floor with some encaustic tiles; carpet in sanctuary and down chancel aisle. One step up to sanctuary. Walls as nave. Roof is Victorian with four bays; heavy corbels supporting arch-braced cross beams with trefoils alternating with curving struts.

North wall: two arcade arches, the second springing as far as the east wall; first bay is panelled with the organ behind, the second has a glass front to the vestry.

East wall: splayed window, modern reredos.

South wall: two splayed windows, a simple shallow recess with a curved head for the priest's door. Aumbry in corner. Eleven 19thC and 20thC marble mural tablets plus two brasses of similar date.

Priest's porch. General. Flagstones for floor; bare walls; roof of collars and rafters.

North wall: the arch of the doorway to the chancel is turned in edge stones and is surely a late rebuild.

Churchyard

The churchyard is now an irregular D-shape, the straight-sided northern perimeter a contrast to the curvature on the east and suggestive of a truncated boundary.

The ground within the yard is flat, not surprising in view of the fact that the churchyard boundary lies up against the bank of Nant Onnau at its southern corner. It is a valley floor location and changes in the relief are minimal.

It is well maintained and still used for burial.

Boundary: bounded by buildings on the west, the churchyard is contained within a stone wall for the rest of its circuit. There is a distinctive inner bank around the west side and north-west corner, surely a relic of the former enclosure, and on the south-east the wall sits astride the bank which has a gully outside it. External and internal ground levels are fairly similar throughout.

Monuments: these are regularly spread throughout the yard, except for the extreme south corner; locally they are quite dense. East and south of the church are 18thC memorials, and there are others scattered apparently quite randomly elsewhere in the yard.

Furniture: socket and shaft of churchyard cross outside the priest's porch.

Earthworks: as noted above there is an earlier perimeter bank on the west side, up to 1m high and with 19thC graves dug into it. A similar bank on the north side contains cinder and ash and is presumably material cleared out from the church boiler. Just beyond the east end of the church the ground drops by 0.3m or so: there is no obvious explanation for this scarp.

Ancillary features: on the south-west is a lychgate of grey sandstone with iron gates and a kissing gate. Iron railings set on low stone walls edge the tarmac path through the churchyard. At the north-east end is a further set of iron gates.

Vegetation: two fairly mature yews on east side of churchyard, otherwise a few deciduous trees.

Sources consulted

Church guide 1991
CPAT Field Visit: 24 October 1995
Dawson 1909, 163
Faculty 1886: NLW/SD/F/350
Glynne 1886, 279
Haslam 1979, 345
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 Llangattock 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 ( 22:00:55 ).
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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