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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Paulinus , Llangors

Llangors 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 SO1349927626.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16871 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llangors Church, CPAT copyright photo CS955023.JPG

Summary

The church of St Paulinus at Llangorse, some 9km east of Brecon, is a late Perpendicular edifice much reconstructed in 1874. It has a few surviving late medieval and Tudor features, including a fine tower, but internally lacks any early fittings other than a font, and a clutch of early medieval memorial stones. These together with the former curvilinear churchyard should establish the site as an early medieval foundation.

The tower masonry appears homogeneous and is thought to be 15thC. Nave north wall largely rebuilt. South aisle may have had upper part of south wall rebuilt, and there is ambivalent evidence that it has been extended eastwards in the late medieval period. Chancel also wholly rebuilt in 1874 though it is not clear whether that part that now forms the sanctuary is a replacement or a new feature of the Victorian restoration. There is some evidence for the latter, implying that the medieval church was a double aisled structure.

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

History

The location beside a stream and the curvilinear churchyard points to an early medieval foundation. There is a reference to an early medieval monastery at Llangors which is thought to have functioned from the 7thC until no later than the Norman Conquest but its precise location is not known and it cannot be assumed that it preceded St Paulinus' church on this spot.

In 1152 the Prior of Brecon nominated a priest to serve the church at Llangorse.

The 13thC Taxatios term it 'Ecclesia de Mara', a reference to the nearby lake, but by the time of the Valor Ecclesiasticus in 1535 it was known as 'Llangarse'.

Up to the Reformation it was supposedly dedicated to St Mary and St Paulinus.

Glynne visited the church in 1855, describing the church much as it is today, except that the body of the building was whitewashed. The east window of the chancel was an old one, and the belfry windows were Perpendicular, each with two traceried lights.

The restoration of 1874 by T. Nicholson cost 1033; when the old chancel arch was taken down, an early inscribed stone was discovered; and in 1881 a sepulchral stone was discovered about two metres from the east wall of the south aisle, when opening a grave. It is also said that sometime earlier in the 19thC a 'disaster' led to the roof timbers of the nave being replaced in pine.

Architecture

Llangors church comprises a nave and chancel, the latter slightly narrower though only on the north side, a south aisle which extends as far east as the chancel sanctuary, and a west tower. It is oriented west-north-west/east-south-east but for the purposes of this description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of medium sized slabs, with a few blocks, of dark red sandstone; larger stones used for quoins. 'B' is of small and occasionally medium slabs in dark red and grey sandstone, in places quite well coursed. 'C' is of both small and medium slabs of stone in variegated colours though red and grey predominate; irregular coursing set off by pink mortar (for pointing?). 'D' mixture of small and medium slabs and blocks of reddish sandstone. 'E' is of small and medium slabs and blocks of predominantly grey-green sandstone.

'A', 'B', and 'D' are late 15thC or a little later, though in the nave 'B' was re-used in the 19thC. 'C' and 'E' are presumed to be Victorian.

Roofs: slates with yellow ceramic toothed ridge tiles. Chancel has a cross finial.

Drainage: possibly a trench has been dug around the north side, though this is far from certain.

Exterior

Tower. General. Fabric 'A'. Basal plinth, inset and chamfered at 1.0m and topped by a rounded string-course at c.1.3m. The second stage terminates in a more angular string-course which rises as a hoodmoulding over windows. The third stage has a similar string-course and the belfry stage likewise, accompanied by waterspouts. Above this is the battlemented parapet. The tower stair is built into the north-east angle.

North wall: slit window with chamfered dressings in yellowish-grey sandstone, at top of second stage, but not centrally placed; two small glazed slits with similarly coloured dressings light the stair, and the third stage also has one of these. Third stage also has a slightly smaller slit centrally placed just below the string-course. Belfry stage has a two-light window under a two-centred arch, the louvred lights with cusped heads and hollow-chamfered mouldings; the mullion may have been replaced. The string-course above has two waterspouts.

East wall: apex of nave roof almost reaches to third string-course. There is, however, an adjacent slit window which is probably off-centre. Belfry window comparable with that on north side but some replacement of dressings.

South wall: second stage contains two slit windows, one at the bottom the other at the top; a further, smaller slit window in the third stage and a standard belfry window without any obvious replacement of the dressings; two waterspouts on the top string-course.

West wall: similar to south wall, except that some dressings in belfry window may have been replaced.

Nave. General. There is a possibility that the nave abuts the tower, for though the tower string-courses stop abruptly, it does appear to have ashlar quoins, and the masonry of the nave at the corner appears rougher, as though of separate build. On the hand there is also a 'bonding-line' about 0.3m eastwards along the nave wall.

North wall: there are changes in the masonry at the extreme west end (see above), the extreme east end and the bottom courses of the wall for its full length; all can be classed as 'B' but that around the edges is less regular, and presumably original, the rest is almost certainly rebuilt using original stone; this could have been in 1874 but conceivably could have been earlier. Two two-light windows with cusped heads, trefoiled to west and cinquefoiled to east; these are crudely produced and in yellow sandstone, but the jambs and mullions are largely in red sandstone. Of the nave and chancel these are the only architectural features to survive the restoration, albeit considerably renewed.

Chancel. entirely Victorian in Fabric 'C', with distinctive ashlar at corners. Attached to north wall is a sunken boiler room, its entrance via a Caernarvon arch. The axis of the sanctuary is skewed to the rest of the church; this is deliberate and known as a 'weeping sanctuary'.

North wall: a single light window with a cinquefoil head in yellowish-grey sandstone.

East wall: a three-light window with Y-tracery and cusping in yellow sandstone. Wall face repointed but pink mortar visible in places.

South wall: a single light window as in north wall.

South aisle. General. In Fabric 'D', similar to but slightly less regular than the 'A' masonry of the tower. Wall battered to height of c.0.5m. Note the possibility that aisle has been extended eastwards (see below).

East wall: this could be in 'D' but the stonework is weathered and there is heavy pointing. One three-light window with a two-centred arch, the lights with cinquefoil heads and panel tracery above, hollow mouldings, mainly red sandstone dressings but some yellow.

South wall: from east the features are: i) a three-light window matching that in east wall, even down to the yellow sandstone dressings; it has been suggested that this was the original east window in the chancel, reset at the restoration, but Glynne drew attention to it in this position in 1855; ii) a priest's door with Tudor arch, the chamfers having stops, and some yellow sandstone in the arch; iii) a square-headed window of two lights with cinquefoil heads; iv) below iii) is a scratch sundial; v) another window similar to iii); both of the square-headed windows were once shuttered for each has holes in the jambs and iii) has a hook in situ; vi) an early Tudor door with rounded and hollow chamfers but single stops; mainly in red sandstone. The degree of tracery replacement is difficult to determine. Haslam argued that most if not all of the tracery dates to the 1840s. In fact it is likely that some medieval tracery does survive, but it is noticeable too that the upper part of the wall face is in Fabric 'E', and this dips down above each window suggesting some degree of reconstruction. The rest of the wall is in 'D' though the west end has similarities to 'B'. West of the priest's door is a subtle line in the masonry which matches a faint alteration in the roof line directly above. It is possible that this marks an extension of the south aisle.

West wall: Fabric 'D'? One square-headed window with two lights with what are probably original cinquefoil heads, chamfered dressings, the whole now covered by a perspex sheet.

Interior

Tower. General. Flagstones on floor. Ceiling barrel vaulted in stone.

North wall: doorway to tower stair, pointed head, chamfered mouldings.

East wall: tower arch chamfered from springer level.?Tudor.

Nave. General. Flagged floor though tiled at the front; wooden floors, fractionally sunken, under benches. Graveslabs of 1763 and 1795 used as flooring between arches of arcade. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of close set, braced collars with scissor struts; 19thC.

North wall: deeply splayed window embrasures but dressings look to be original.

East wall: Victorian chancel arch, bare dressings.

South wall: three-bay arcade with large two-centred arches springing from octagonal pillars and hollow-moulded capitals.

West wall: tower arch is two-centred, chamfered from springers, and now largely panelled off; to the north of the arch is a chamfered slit, lighting the tower stair; was this originally an external window and thus further evidence that the present nave is later than the tower? Above the tower arch is a door with chamfered dressings and a low pointed arch; there are signs that the masonry around it is disturbed, suggesting perhaps that it has been inserted: access to a former gallery?

Chancel. General. Two steps up from nave. Tiled floors apart from the wooden boarding beneath the choir stalls. Late medieval wagon roof is a reasonable fit but distorted (cf aisle roof), and the faintly skewed alignment of the sanctuary means that part of the last brace is hidden within the east wall masonry.

North and east walls: nothing of significance.

South wall: sedile, piscina and, above the latter, an aumbry, all Victorian. West of the only window the wall protrudes slightly; this is in line with the east wall of the south aisle and strengthens the hypothesis that prior to 1874 the east wall of the chancel was in line with that of the aisle. Further west is a further bay of the arcade, giving on to what is now the organ chamber.

South aisle. General. Flagged floor with graveslabs re-used in it at both east and west ends. Those at the east end are the earliest - 17thC - and certainly run under the organ platform. At the west end are three of 1760, 1762 and 1777. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Fine wagon roof of alternate ribbed and plain braces, but without plaster infill; presumably of the late 15thC.

South wall: the reveal and inside arch of the priest's door is entirely Victorian, as are all the window splays.

West wall: splayed window, beneath which are the early medieval stones.

Churchyard

The churchyard is now a medium-sized, largely rectilinear enclosure, with a visible curve only on the east. That it was somewhat larger and more curvilinear at an earlier stage in its history is suggested by the topography, the Castle Inn and old school having encroached on it to the south, and the modern road having truncated a small segment of it on the west. It is situated against a small stream, Nant Cwy, and this position creates a relatively flat churchyard, though with a slight rise on the south where the valley starts to rise.

The churchyard is well maintained and is still used for burial.

Boundary: stone walls bound the churchyard on the east and west while on the south, the development of buildings and yards has resulted in a mixture of brick walls, hedges and fences. On the north is the stream, separated either by a retaining wall or a hedge. An internal bank, possibly a predecessor of the wall can be discerned on part of the east side, and on this side too the churchyard appears to be raised above the external ground level.

Monuments: these are evenly spread across most of the area, though densest to the south and east of the church. Some 18thC examples can still be recognised.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: none.

Ancillary features: small double wooden gates on the west side represent the main entrance, but there is also a small gate on the east leading to what was the vicarage. Tarmac paths.

Vegetation: a few yews on the south side, plus some pines.

Sources consulted

Church notes: n.d.
CPAT Field Visit: 17 August 1995
Dawson 1909, 118
Glynne 1886, 276
Haslam 1979, 348
Jones and Bailey 1911, 65
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 Llangors 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 ( 22:00:57 ).
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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