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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Talachddu

Talachddu Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Felin-fach in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0818233130.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16958 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Talachddu Church, CPAT copyright photo Talachddu 01


St Mary's church is a typically simple building of nave, chancel and porch, lying little more than three miles to the north-east of Brecon. It has been suggested that the building may date back to the 14thC, but all of the windows have been replaced, the doorways are no earlier than the 15thC, and it is impossible to determine whether any of the existing masonry survives from the medieval era. The font and roofs apart, there is nothing of medieval date inside.

Other medieval survivals, notably the porch roof and main south door to church, and it is conceivable that the whole of porch might be original, though Griffiths of RCAHMW thought the south door had been re-set.

Parts of the nave and chancel could be medieval, and perhaps as early as the 14thC, namely the north wall and part of the south of the former, and the lower part of the east wall and much of the south of the latter. However, conceivably some sections could be rebuilt using earlier masonry. Also surviving late medieval roofs.

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


The origins of the church are obscure.

Talachddu does not feature in the 13thC Taxatios, but the Episcopal Register of St Davids does refer to 'Talaughduy' in 1400. The list of incumbents begins with John Linderwode at this time.

Theophilus Jones recorded that part of the rood loft had been converted into a gallery, on the front of which was a marble memorial to Jenkin Lewis (d.1738).

Glynne visited the church in 1861, noting the chancel and nave, a south porch and a wooden cage for the bell at the west end. Most of the windows were poor, late and square-headed. The outside walls were whitewashed, the porch had a good arched timber roof, the interior choked with pews and the pulpit adjacent to the altar. Part of the west end served as a school.

Restoration occurred in 1862 (or 1864 or 1856 - there is no agreement among the sources) and almost certainly involved considerable rebuilding. Conducted by Thomas Nicholson, who inserted the chancel arch and substituted a wooden belfry for the former west tower.


St Mary's church consists of a nave and narrower chancel, a belfry over the west end of the nave, a south porch attached to the nave, and a vestry and boiler-house on the north side of the chancel. The church is oriented south-west/north-east but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for this description.

Fabrics: 'A; is of small to medium blocks (and a few slabs) of sandstone, gritstone and the like, grey though to brown and red, some regularly shaped, some irregular; traces of limewash on one or two stones; random coursing. Dressed ashlar quoins. 'B' consists of regular blocks and slabs of grey, pink and red sandstone and siltstone, some coursing. 'C' is a mixture of slabs and blocks in grey, brown and red sandstone etc, fresh looking, irregular coursing. Occasional traces of render.

'A' and 'C' may be re-used masonry from the earlier building, but equally could be original, particularly the latter. B is new Victorian masonry.

Roofs: modern concrete aggregate tiles throughout; simple ridge tiles; cross finials towards end of chancel and near gable of porch.

Drainage: unturfed strip around virtually the whole building suggests drainage trench.


Nave. General. Supports wooden belfry with four louvred openings on each face with small spire above and cross on top.

North wall: mainly Fabric A, though the masonry has a more regular appearance towards the east end; two two-light rectangular windows, the lights with four-centred heads, all Victorian, but perhaps imitating a 16thC predecessor.

East wall: nave rises about 0.6m above chancel. Fabric 'A'. On the south the chancel wall abuts this wall of nave.

South wall: east of the porch wall in Fabric 'A' but to west it is in Fabric 'B'. One window in same style as those in north wall, and all in pink and grey sandstone.

West wall: in Fabric 'B'. West window has two trefoil-headed lights with a trefoil above, and a hoodmoulding over the arch; yellow freestone dressings weathered to grey.

Chancel. General. On north side a derelict sunken boiler-room with vestry adjacent.

North wall: no wall visible.

East wall: partially ivy covered. Lower part of wall in 'C' might be original and traces of limewash residue apparent. However, upper part of wall face in similar masonry and this is more likely to be rebuilt. It incorporates a typical Victorian window with a two-centred arch, three trefoiled lights, a multifoil roundel above, and a hoodmoulding.

South wall: generally in 'C'. Wall plate visible at eaves level. One window with two-centred arch, cusped tracery to the single light, in grey and red sandstone; has the appearance of having been inserted.

Porch. General. In Fabric 'A'.

East and west walls: plain.

South wall: main entrance has two-centred arch, stopped chamfers all in red sandstone; much of this supposedly 15thC doorway appears to be replacement but the worn stop on the west side could be original.


Porch. General. Flagged floor; roughly plastered walls; roof of four ribbed arch-braced trusses with three plain intermediate ones, considered to be an original 15thC/16thC feature.

North wall: four-centred arched, Tudor doorway with stopped chamfers, all in red sandstone. Appears to be largely original.

East and west walls: stone benches with flagged seats.

Nave. General. Flagged floor with at least two re-used graveslabs at west end (dating to 1706 and 1730); heating vents down centre covered by carpet; benches raised on low plinths. Walls plastered and painted pink. 15thC wagon roof of 42 ribbed panels, the ceiling between whitewashed; those at west end are double size to allow for belfry support which consists of a substantial frame with two main uprights and wooden arches to walls.

North wall: two deeply splayed windows; three mural tablets of 1752, 1797 and 1825.

East wall: two-centred chancel arch, hoodmoulding with human-headed stops, all in Victorian grey sandstone.

South wall: one splayed window, a triangular-headed embrasure for the door, and four mural tablets of 1766, 1788, 1805 and 1808.

West wall: nothing of significance.

Chancel. General. Two steps up to chancel from nave, one to sanctuary and one to altar. Tiled floors. Walls as in nave, roof likewise but of 24 ribbed panels.

North wall: upper part of wall leans outwards. Two-centred arched doorway in grey sandstone to vestry; one 19thC brass and a 19thC marble mural tablet.

East wall: nothing of significance.

South wall: wall has outward lean as on north. One 19thC mural tablet.


The church occupies a raised churchyard, with a hint of curvilinearity to it; despite the fact that it has been extended slightly in the east corner and has been cut back on the south-west, the term circular cannot be legitimately appended to it. It covers reasonably level ground, but on both the north and east the ground falls away gently beyond its boundary.

Boundary: the perimeter is defined by a mortared retaining wall on all sides, and for the whole perimeter the external ground level is lower, in places particularly the south, considerably so.

Monuments: the north side of the churchyard is free of graves, but elsewhere the gravestones are quite well spread though never densely packed. South of the church is the slab recording William Bevan (d.1734) and there are also some late 18thC memorials. The most recent burial is 1992.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: on the south side there is a scarp bank inside the present boundary, and a slight curve to this near the east corner suggests that it is an earlier perimeter.

Ancillary features: the main entrance is a single ornamental iron gate with an arch over; adjacent to it is a vertical slab stile. A subsidiary entrance exists near the east corner.

Vegetation: upwards of ten yews are set around the whole perimeter except the west. On that side are a number of pines, and within the yard itself are a few large deciduous trees.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 29 March 1996
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 82
Dawson 1909, 221
Glynne 1887, 285
Haslam 1979, 371
Jones and Bailey 1930, iv, 13 & 14
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 Talachddu 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 ( 22:01:07 ).
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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