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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Church of St Maelog , Llandefaelog Fach

Llandefaelog Fach Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Honddu Isaf in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0339832387.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 31233 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llandefaelog Fach Church, CPAT copyright photo CS920629.JPG

Summary

Dedicated to St Maelog the church occupies a bench on west side of River Honddu some 3km to the north of Brecon. It is almost certainly an early medieval foundation, but apart from the 16thC tower the building is completely Victorian, though with an interesting range of contemporary fittings. Earlier features include a 10thC/11thC stone, a 13thC font and a good group of 17thC/18thC grave-slabs and memorials. A unique feature for Breconshire is a large mausoleum in the churchyard.

Tower is considered 16thC though shows few diagnostic features. Rest of church is a 19thC rebuild.

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

History

Various topographical features suggest an early medieval origin. The significance of the early Christian stones in this context is difficult to assess because their provenance is unknown.

The church was registered as 'Ecclesia de Landevayloc' in the 1291 Taxatio at a value of 8.

It was rebuilt in 1831 by Maund of Brecon, and again in 1856 by W.G. & E.Habershon.

Architecture

Church consists of west tower, nave and chancel in one, north vestry attached to chancel, and south porch. Church is oriented west-north-west/east-south-east, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A' of red and grey sandstone in blocks and slabs, small to medium in size, regularly coursed. Occasional long slabs. Better stones selected as quoins, but few large dressed stones in evidence. 'B' of regular blocks of grey and red sandstone, regularly coursed, heavy pointing, tooled quoins, particularly in buttresses. Yellow/buff sandstone for dressings.

Roofs: slates, with mock slate ridge tiles; cross finial on chancel.

Drainage: no obvious drainage trench on north or south, while on west a tarmac path runs up to wall face.

Exterior

Tower. General. 16thC, in Fabric 'A'. Faintly battered on west and south, but otherwise walls are plain with no string-courses, no battlements etc. It is capped with a low pyramidal roof and has a ornamental device that might once have supported a weathervane.

North wall: single louvred slit window without dressings, below belfry level. Belfry window, also louvred, is rectangular with large chamfered jambs; tucked in immediately below eaves.

East wall: apex of nave rises above level of the slit window on north; otherwise as north wall, though some jamb replacement in belfry window.

South wall: blocked round-headed doorway with voussoirs, slightly irregular shape and intermittent jamb stones beneath. To east of the doorway foundation course of tower diverges from current wall line for about 1m, pointing to earlier construction. Wall above contains two slits, the lower blocked internally, the upper louvred as elsewhere; and above is a standard belfry window, though impossible to ascertain whether any replacement.

West wall: dominated by large Victorian window of two ogee-headed lights with cusped tracery, a quatrefoil above, all under a two-centred arch (all in buff sandstone), and a relieving arch above that. Slit window above is level with those in other walls but has unchamfered freestone dressings. Standard belfry window.

Nave. General. Fabric 'B'. Building has chamfered plinth up to 1m above ground level, but less to west because of the general rise in the ground from east to west. Windows with two-centred arches, cusped lights, and relieving arches over; angle buttresses at corners, though some difference in masonry used; chimney above north-east corner. Nave at least 1.5m higher than chancel.

Chancel. General. Walls in Fabric 'B'. Standard plinth. Main east window of three stepped lights with stopped hoodmould, all in Victorian yellow sandstone. Diagonal buttresses. Two single-light windows on south.

Vestry. General. Masonry of 'B' type. Plinth and also string-course at c.2.0m. Simple lancet windows and door on west side, all in Victorian sandstone.

Porch. General. Fabric 'B'. Lancet windows and two-centred arched doorway, all in red sandstone.

Interior

Porch. Victorian.

Tower. General. Tiled floor; wooden ceiling. Walls plastered to ceiling level, and stepped in at around 3m on north, west and south sides.

North wall: 17thC and 18thC grave slabs around wall.

East wall: 10thC slab against north reveal of tower arch.

South wall: 17thC and 18thC grave slabs around wall.

West wall: Deeply splayed window with brass of 1902 on north splay.

Nave. General. Floor of Victorian tiles; carpet down centre aisle covers heating vents; benches raised on wooden plinths. Roof of close-set scissor trusses. Masonry infilling north-west and south-west angles may have something to do with earlier tower?

North wall: splayed windows; mosaic frieze around wall above bench level. Two 18thC marble monuments and a 20thC brass.

East wall: two-centred chancel arch with complex moulding, and a metal screen under. Victorian plaques on either side of arch.

South wall: splayed windows; 20thC plaque.

West wall: two-centred tower arch of 19thC date. Above this a diagonal disconformity under surface coating may indicate earlier roof line on tower wall.

Chancel. General. Mosaic floors in chancel and sanctuary, with single steps up to chancel, to sanctuary and to altar; wagon roof of twenty panels with decorative bosses; carved choir stalls. Aumbry in north wall, sedile in south wall below sanctuary window.

Vestry. General. Tiled floor, brick walls, scissor-truss roof. Largely occupied by organ.

Churchyard

Llandefaelog churchyard has an elongated shape, curvilinear on north and more rectilinear to south. This is due to an extension to the churchyard, the earlier course being picked out by scarp to south of church (see below).

Ground within yard slopes from north to south, and because of proximity of River Honddu, no more than 20m to east of church, there is also a slope towards river though church itself occupies a shelf which in part is natural.

Boundary: consists of stone wall which on road side is mortared but on north is drystone. This continues above river, swings around south-east corner where mausoleum is set against it, and then runs on to road. On west internal ground level is below that outside but elsewhere the churchyard is raised, by from 0.5m on north to well over 1m on south.

Monuments: well packed throughout churchyard, although densely so only in localised groups. Immediately to south of church are gravestones of 1768 and 1775. In the south-east corner the churchyard accommodates the mausoleum of the Penoyre estate. Enclosed by a substantial wall built in Egyptianate style and dated 1816, it comprises a low square building with a single door on the west and a grill covered window on the east, containing a number of vandalized lead coffins.

Furniture: modern churchyard cross towards south-east corner.

Earthworks: scarp bank, c.1m high, runs in front of south side of church, following a fairly straight line: this is likely to be an earlier boundary. However, further south a different course is suggested by a curving line of yews though this assumes the complete obliteration of the bank between them. On north side of church evidence of embanked boundary just inside stone wall.

Ancillary features: lychgate on west, built by F.R.Kempson in 1897, with double metal gates under. In north-west corner a single iron gate between stone piers. Tarmac paths.

Vegetation: a series of spindly yews on north and south.

Sources consulted

Church Notes
CPAT Field Visit: 25 November 1995
Haslam 1979, 330
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 Llandefaelog Fach 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 ( 22:00:45 ).
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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