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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cattwg , Llanspyddid

Llanspyddid Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Glyn Tarell in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0118328195.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16891 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanspyddid Church, CPAT copyright photo CS974437.JPG


St Cadog's church is a small, simple structure on the southern edge of the Usk Valley some 3km west of Brecon. Medieval fabric survives, and together with remnants of the original fenestration, may date to the early 14thC. The church contains a medieval font and piscina as well as a fine range of 18thC memorials. The churchyard was originally larger, perhaps D-shaped; it has an early medieval cross-inscribed pillar stone set up in it to the south of the church.

Nave and chancel walls appear to be partially rebuilt, notably at east end of north wall and upper courses of south wall; east wall appears uniform and may be wholly reconstructed or perhaps just the upper part. West wall has inserted window but some original masonry. Totally re-roofed.

Two or perhaps three of the windows retain some medieval dressings; north doorway is original; porch is exceptional for its facade.

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


The dedication, location and morphology of the churchyard indicate that this is an early medieval foundation, a view perhaps reinforced by the pillar stone in the churchyard

As with so many churches in rural Powys little of its subsequent history and development is known. It is recorded as 'Ecclesia de Landespetit' in the Taxatio of 1291 and as 'Llanspythytt' in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535.

In 1880 C.Buckeridge re-roofed and partially rebuilt the church, giving it "a regular and boring interior" (Haslam) and a west bellcote. The Specification for the work required existing masonry to be re-used and excavation beneath the floor to a depth of two feet.


Llanspyddid church comprises a nave and chancel in one, a bellcote over the west end, a porch on the north side of the nave near the north-west angle and a vestry on the south side at the south-west corner. The church is oriented south-west/north-east but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for this description.

Fabrics: 'A' is of red and grey sandstone, mainly tabular, randomly coursed. 'B' is of regular red-brown sandstone slabs and some blocks, with well-dressed quoins.

'A' is medieval fabric, but some at least re-cycled in Victorian rebuilding; 'B' is Victorian at the earliest.

Roofs: concrete aggregate tiles.

Drainage: some evidence on north side for a drain, particularly in the vicinity of the porch.


Porch. General. Fabric A, though sandstone appears more tabular than in nave. Porch walls abut nave wall; drip course on nave wall over porch apex.

North wall: doorway has wooden arch provided by an arch-braced collar and supported by timber uprights, one replaced in stone for bottom 1m. 16thC carved barge boards front the gable and there is a fine ornamental head at apex.

East and west walls: plain.

Nave and chancel. General. Described here as a single unit, as no distinction externally. Thought to be 14thC in origin.

North wall: three two-light windows, two illuminating the nave, the other the chancel; all have elongated cusped heads and Y-tracery. From west i) a modern lean-to stone shed abutting both nave wall and west side of porch; ii) porch; iii) window with original, red sandstone jambs but grey springers, mullion and tracery; iv) window all in grey sandstone, largely replaced dressings. Stone around this window is clearly different, and indicates rebuilding - there is a clear fabric change just to the east; east of this juncture the fabric is still identifiable as 'A' but is more tabular and cleaner. There is thus a possibility that the wall has been taken down and rebuilt; v) window predominantly in red sandstone, largely replaced, the jambs not flush with the masonry of the wall; vi) dressed stone for quoins includes a projecting quoin of Victorian date at eaves level to support gable end timber.

East wall: all one build in Fabric A. Heavy three-light Victorian window in yellow sandstone, and no clear signs that it has been inserted into an existing wall. Two illegible 18thC mural tablets pinned to wall.

South wall: fabric is 'A' throughout, but the coursing is more regular than on the north side, and the upper part of the wall is cleaner than the lower part, probably indicating a rebuild. Three windows which from east are: i) two-light window in chancel, cusped heads, under a pointed, almost four-centred arch, in original pinkish sandstone; ii + iii) both windows with Y-tracery similar to most westerly window on north side but in Victorian creamy yellow freestone; taller than chancel window. One visible junction in masonry between windows ii) and iii), the significance unclear; iv) two mural tablets of 1782 and 1792 pinned to wall; v) vestry.

West wall: large three-light window with trefoil above, wholly Victorian; relieving arch over; signs that window inserted. Beneath the window coarse plastering and an irregular surface indicates infilling for an unspecified reason. Bellcote above gable. One quoin at north-west angle has unconvincing decoration of slashed lines and circular depressions. Broken 17thC graveslab with floriate cross against wall.

Vestry. General. Fabric 'B'. Window on east, door on west. Abuts nave wall.


Porch. General. Floor of black and red tiles. Undistinguished 19thC roof of collars, purlins and rafters.

East and west walls: low stone seats on stone plinths.

South wall: two-centred arched doorway, grey sandstone dressings with stopped chamfers (though one missing); modern wire and timber door in front of older internal door.

Nave. General. Concrete floor with heating grilles, wooden boards under benches. All walls, except for dressings, plastered and whitewashed in two colours. Roof has intermittent tie beams with scissor trusses piercing collars; presumably Victorian.

North wall: faintly splayed doorway reveal; roughened stonework of more westerly window confirms that some original dressings survive in contrast to the other nave window. North-west corner has large number of mural tablets mounted in rows, about a dozen in all and predominantly 18thC.

East wall: nothing of significance.

South wall: Victorian windows, 19thC/20thC vestry doorway with 18thC mural tablet over; 20thC brasses.

West wall: lower part of wall covered by tomb slabs, predominantly 18thC.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel, one within choir and a third to sanctuary. Floors of plain and encaustic tiles with some carpet. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of arch-braced collars with carved corbels. Three rows of foiled windbraces: quatrefoils sandwiched between trefoils; assumed to be Victorian.

North wall: erosion scars on window jambs does suggest that these dressings may be original.

East wall: 'Holy, Holy, Holy' painted over main window.

South wall: early piscina adjacent to altar.


The ground level within the churchyard slopes gradually from south to north, but the main drop, down to the River Usk, is 50m to the north on the far side of the main road. With the ground rising behind the church and village, Llanspyddid occupies a natural shelf on the south side of the valley.

The churchyard has been truncated at some point in the past. Probably originally double the size and broadly D-shaped, its western portion has reverted to secular use but the earlier boundary was detected during an evaluation of the adjacent plot in 1994.

The boundary consists of a stone wall on the north side which continues on the west, and also on the south and east where material is mounded up inside it. With a consistently lower ground level outside than inside, the churchyard can be described as raised.

Monuments: these are unevenly spread throughout the yard with only a few localised areas on the north lacking obvious graves. Most are 19thC and 20thC, but there are some late 18thC examples immediately to the north of the nave and chancel.

Furniture: to the south of the church is a small upright stone with carvings of two circled crosses, one with four small circles placed round it. An inscription noted by Lhwyd in 1698 is no longer visible; c.0.9m high by 0.4m by 0.2m; 7thC-9thC. Said to mark the grave of Aulach, father of Brychan. Dawson claimed that it was originally double its present height but was cut down at the time of the 1880 restoration.

Earthworks: nothing other than the internal embanking on the east and south sides. This also continues on the west side despite the fact that this must be a later boundary.

Ancillary features: a small, modern double gate provides the main access from the north, with steps leading up to the path. There is also a wooden 'field' gate on the south side.

Vegetation: yews - about eight - around the perimeter including the west though not the north side. Those seen by Dawson shading the path have gone.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 14 September 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 76
Dawson 1909, 190
Faculty 1879: NLW/SD/F/425
Haslam 1979, 354
NMR Aberystwyth
Powys SMR
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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 Llanspyddid 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 ( 22:01:00 ).
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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