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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St David , Llanynis

Llanynis Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Duhonw in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN9983550860. At one time it was dedicated to St Llyr.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16896 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanynis Church, CPAT copyright photo CS962410.JPG


St David's church lies in an isolated position beside the River Irfon a few kilometres to the west of Builth Wells. The church has supposedly seen reconstruction at several times in the past and it is now impossible to determine whether there is any medieval masonry in place. Only the font can be confidently attributed to this era. The churchyard has been enlarged and the original enclosure was a typical, small curvilinear 'llan'.

Little evidence of phasing for this building and the whitewashed exterior only serves to hinder the assessment. Uneven appearance of chancel walls might suggest that they could be original medieval and that the nave has been rebuilt, but this is pure speculation. Windows all 18thC and 19thC, and impossible to determine whether the Y-tracery is in anyway representative of what was here in the Middle Ages.

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


The location, the original shape of the church yard and the former dedication to St Llyr all point to an early medieval origin, though needless to say there is no documentary evidence to support this.

Local tradition has it that Llewelyn attended mass here before he was killed at nearby Cilmery in 1282.

The St Davids' Episcopal Register contains an entry for Llanynys in 1400, and the Valor Ecclesiasticus in 1535 records a value of 7 0s 7d for the church.

There are records of the building being repaired or even extensively rebuilt in 1687, again in c.1778, and in 1894. This last restoration may have seen the removal of what was classed as a fine oak screen.

A clearance and renovation scheme in the early 1970s, apparently saved the church from permanent closure, but may have removed earthwork remains of the earlier churchyard.


The church has a nave, chancel, south porch and west bellcote. It is aligned almost exactly east to west.

Fabric: impossible to ascertain whether the rough looking masonry is homogeneous - though no obvious differences - as whole of exterior has been whitewashed. This whitewash has been removed from north-west corner of the nave to reveal slabs of red and red-grey sandstone with occasional shale, some coursed; red sandstone also used for quoins though not consistently.

Roofs: slate with simple ceramic ridge tiles and no finials.

Drainage: drainage gully probably dug on south where depression runs beside wall; no evidence on north where some debris piled against wall, though there are downpipes and drain covers, nor on east.


Nave. General. Above western gable is a rectangular bell-turret, with arched openings on all sides, rectangular slated pyramidal roof and a modern cross on top.

North wall: two two-centred arched windows, the arches turned in brick, wooden window frames, two double lancet windows with Y-tracery all in wood; that to west may have been inserted into wall face.

South wall: wall faintly bowed; two windows, the most easterly as those on north, the other has Y-tracery in stone and cusped lights, but again the arch is turned in brick. Presumed to be Victorian. Both windows have stained glass.

West wall: plain.

Chancel. General. Roof has slightly flatter pitch and is fractionally lower than nave. South wall leans outwards, north has terrible bulge in it, and east is extremely uneven; all this in contrast to more regular wall faces of nave.

North wall: no windows.

East wall: one small double-light window with Y-tracery, all in buff-coloured freestone and lacking brick surround of other windows; Griffiths of RCAHMW considered that original surround survived. Possibly inserted. Disconformity near south-east angle implies some rebuilding and perhaps too at north-east angle.

South wall: one standard window in wood.

Porch. East wall: projecting stones just above ground level, but these terminate 0.5m from south-east angle and could be foundation of an earlier and shorter porch.

South wall: two-centred arch, probably turned in brick; lacks chamfers. Low metal gate across entrance.

West wall: plain.


Porch. General. Tiled floor. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof plastered but shows curving, ribbed tie-beams.

North wall: =south wall of nave. Round-headed doorway in wooden frame.

East wall: stone bench with wooden seat.

West wall: as east wall.

Nave. General. Red and white tiles for floor; no heating vents and no carpets. Benches raised on wooden boarding. Low flat ceiling with trap-door access to roof above. Plastered and whitewashed walls, slightly splayed windows. Back of nave partitioned off for very narrow vestry.

North wall: wall leans outwards slightly. Three mural tablets of 1808/1812, 1852/1862 and 1847.

East wall: no chancel arch, the only division with the chancel effected by a single step up, and a lower ceiling level for chancel.

South wall: leans slightly outwards. One mural tablet of 1830.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel, one to sanctuary; simple tiled floor. Plastered and whitewashed walls, slightly splayed windows; low, plastered ceiling.

North wall: wall leans outwards.

South wall: wall leans outwards.


Llanynis churchyard is sub-rectangular, but the church itself is set in the extreme eastern portion and the curving boundary on this side reflects an earlier, smaller and much more curvilinear enclosure, some 45-50m across, in which the church would have been centrally set.

The ground within the yard is relatively level as might be anticipated from its position right beside the River Irfon and on its valley floor.

The churchyard is well-maintained and is still used for burial, though very few of recent years.

Boundary: composite. The north side is simply the river valley edge, a drop of perhaps 4m to the river, with a few trees along this edge. A hedge bounds the yard on the west, and on the south where it is reinforced by a wire fence; there is no sign of the yard being raised in this area. East of the main gate on the south, the hedge is set on a bank which has a curve to it, more apparent on ground than on map. This can be followed through on the east, and towards north-east corner the bank is at least 0.5m high.

Monuments: these are few and occupy limited areas to south-west of porch, and the south-east of the chancel. Three slabs of late 18thC or early 19thC lean, vegetation covered, against the bank on the east side; and against the chancel are set a number of gravestones, the earliest one of which is from 1782. Most of the monuments are 19thC and 20thC in origin.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: on west side of church is a slight scarp 0.3m high which fades out to north and south. Nevertheless, this eastern area appears to be raised even where the scarp itself is imperceptible, and together with the bank beneath the modern boundary on south and east, forms a curvilinear enclosure.

The church is approached across open fields by a raised causeway.

Ancillary features: main entrance are simple double wooden gates on south, a grass path leading to the porch. Stiles for a riverside footpath are set in the extreme north-west and north-east corners.

Vegetation: a few deciduous trees and bushes, mainly on north side.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 7 March 1996
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 76
Haslam 1979, 356
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 Llanynis 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 ( 22:01:02 ).
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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