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Brecknockshire Churches Survey

Llanlleonfel Church

Llanlleonfel Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Treflys in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN9387349937.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 32166 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanlleonfel Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0633.JPG


Llanlleonfel church which appears not to have a dedication is situated on the edge of the Dulas valley about 10km west of Builth Wells. A simple structure, it was completely rebuilt in the 1870s and, apart from an early medieval pillar stone and three 18thC memorials to the Gwynne family, contains nothing of interest. Its churchyard may once have been circular but not now.

Wholly rebuilt in 1876. Dawson claimed that [curiously] only the mullions from the previous church were salvaged and re-used.

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


Possibly this is an early medieval foundation though the evidence is far from conclusive.

It does not appear in the medieval Taxatios but is recorded as 'Llanlloenvell' in the Episcopal Register for St Davids in 1513.

It has been suggested that an earlier church dated from the 16thC and was progressively restored by the Gwynne family from about 1712, being used by them until the end of the 18thC. But Sir Stephen Glynne in 1867 and Francis Kilvert in 1873 both recorded that the church was ruinous, "..a most deplorable object" (Glynne) and "...the only occupants being several white owls" (Kilvert). Glynne did record it as an undivided nave and chancel, a debased wooden screen of three-arched compartments, and a wooden bellcote over the west end, but with "literally no architectural feature deserving the name". The windows were modern with wooden mullions. The porch had been destroyed.

It was rebuilt in 1876 by R. J. Withers, with a bell turret over the centre of the church, but this was later moved to the west end.


Llanlleonfel church comprises a nave and chancel in one, a south porch and a north vestry. It is oriented east /west.

Fabric: dressed blocks of dark shale, of medium and larger size; irregularly coursed; same material for quoins; buff-yellow sandstone for all dressings. Victorian masonry.

Roofs: slates with toothed ceramic ridge tiles; cross finial at east end of chancel.

Bellcote with two apertures under Caernarvon arches. Weathercock above.

Drainage: nothing obvious.

Note - this church was completely rebuilt in 1876. For this reason the following description is an outline only.


Nave . General. Basal plinth with freestone chamfer. Single lancets, two on north, two on south and two longer ones on west. Stepped buttress about half way along south side.

Chancel . General. A double chamfered plinth. No windows on north, but two standard lancets on south, while on east three stepped and separate lancets.

Porch. General. Two-centred arched doorway. Side walls have roundel lights containing trefoils.

Vestry. General. Double chamfer as the chancel. Pair of rectangular lights in north wall. Chimney over vestry roof.


Porch. General. Three steps up into porch. Red and black tiles on floor. Walls bare; stone benches along sides. Roof of close-set arch-braced collars. Main church door has two-centred arch.

Nave. General. Tiled floor, even under benches, with carpet down centre and metal grilles beneath it. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof of close-set arch-braced collars and raking struts. Two-centred chancel arch having capitals and complex mouldings. West wall has three Gwynne slabs, the armorial details recently repainted?

Chancel. General. Tiled floor embellished with a few encaustic tiles; rear choir stalls and organ raised on wooden plinths. Walls and roof as nave. North wall has plain, narrow, two-centred arched doorway to vestry, east wall a painted reredos and south wall an aumbry and sedile.


The medium-sized churchyard is polygonal though it gives the overall impression of having once been sub-circular. However, there are no obvious earthworks to signal expansion or contraction. It is sited on the western edge of a shallow river valley, the ground within the churchyard sloping down very gently from west to east.

It is well-maintained in places and is still used for burial.

Boundary: this takes the form of a stony bank, frequently surmounted by a hedge or wire fence. On the north the bank appears to be accompanied by a shallow internal ditch and on the east and south the internal ground level is a little higher than the external level.

Monuments: these are well spread around the south side, with occasional local densities, but there are none to the north of the church. No memorials from the 18thC survive.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: church gives the impression of being set on a slight mound, particularly noticeable at the east and west ends, though the former may represent an attempt to provide a level platform for the building.

Ancillary features: main entrance is farm gate on north-east. There are also stiles on the west and east. Grass paths only.

Vegetation: large trees - mixed pine and deciduous species - around the perimeter. There is one mature yew on a mound to the south of the porch, and about five other, smaller examples inside the northern and eastern perimeters.

Sources consulted

Church guide n.d.
CPAT Field Visit: 14 May 1996
Crossley and Ridgway 1952, 75
Dawson 1909, 145
Haslam 1979, 353
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 Llanlleonfel 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 ( 22:00:59 ).
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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