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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Dogfan , Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant

Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1239326025.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 101046 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant Church, CPAT copyright photo CS975213.JPG

Summary

St Dogfan's church lies on the southern edge of Llanrhaeadr village, next to the Tanat river. It originated as a clas foundation, and some fragments including a fine sepulchral slab survive from the early medieval era. The present building has an undated early core, and one possibly Decorated window may signal its enlargement in the 14thC. The upper parts of the west tower are 18thC and most of the windows are Victorian Perpendicular. Inside are a few fragments of a Romanesque shrine, some 18thC furniture and a good range of memorials. The irregularly shaped churchyard has seen past clearance and retains few older memorials.

Originally a long single chamber of uncertain date. Subsequently, the chancel was extended eastwards and two three-bay chancel aisles were added. This could be of the 14thC for Hubbard thought that the east window of the north aisle, though straight-headed, could be Decorated. The arcade piers were rebuilt in the 19thC, except perhaps for the westernmost one on the south side.

The west tower is 18thC except for its battered base which is of unknown date.

Some evidence of rebuilding on the north and perhaps the west side of the north aisle, and perhaps too on the south side of nave.

North porch added in 19thC.

Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1986 publication The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd by Edward Hubbard

History

The site is known to have had an early medieval clas church, and was the mother church for most of the commote of Mochnant.

In the Norwich Taxatio of 1254 it is recorded as 'Ecclesia de Llanraeader' with a value of 2 13s 4d, but in the later Taxatio of 1291 its value is grouped with those of its dependent chapelries.

In the early 19thC the only remnants of the rood screen were integrated into two bench ends in the chancel.

Glynne's record of the church dates to 1850. The side aisles at the time were used as a school and a hearse house. He recorded the variation in the appearance of the arcade arches, and also the three east windows, and saw too in the north wall of the aisle a plain Norman window.

Restoration reportedly occurred in the 1850s though there is little information about this phase of activity. In 1872 Lloyd Williams and Underwood considered that all the windows except that in the east wall of the north aisle had been spoilt in a restoration.

Further restoration - the addition of the north porch, the replacement of the south windows of the south aisle, re-roofing of the north aisle, remodelling of the chancel and raising its floor, restoration of the vestry and the addition of some heating equipment beneath it, removal of the pews, the hearse house and the west gallery - was completed by W.H. Spaull between 1879 and 1882 at a cost of 1778.

A new organ and heating system were installed in 1906.

Architecture

The church has a long, narrow nave and chancel in one, an attached west tower, short north and south chancel aisles, with a vestry attached to the west end of the south aisle, and a north porch. It is oriented west-north-west/east-south-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics:'A' is of large blocks of grey shale, somewhat roughly laid giving an uneven surface, some coursing. 'B' of small to medium blocks and lumps of shale; quoins of pink sandstone ashlar. Uniform appearance. 'C' of variegated shale slabs and lumps, and occasional pebblestones, some coursing. Quoins of grey and buff sandstone. 'D' is similar to 'C', but with many more pebblestones. 'E' is of regular squared blocks of grey-brown shale, of uniform appearance. Quoins of dressed freestone. 'F' is of regular blocks of iron-stained shale, with better dressed stone for quoins. No re-used material.

Roof: slates and grey clay ridge tiles of simple design. Stone cross finials to east ends of the aisles and the chancel.

Drainage: nothing obvious.

Exterior

Tower. General. Battered base rising to above 3m with a chamfered top in weathered red sandstone. Above, a single stage rising to just below parapet level. Next a string course of projecting slabs with the parapet stage inset. Plain parapet, pyramid pinnacles. Plinth in 'A', the rest in 'B'.

North wall: main feature is the belfry window, the jambs of dressed stone, but blocked by clock face. Below this is a small square wooden, louvred window. Close to the eastern corner is a series of four slit windows lighting the tower stair, all but the top one have worn, pale sandstone jambs with shale lintels, the jambs surely re-used. Top stage has waterspout near the north-west angle.

East wall: nave roof rises to just over half the height of the tower. Belfry window has unchamfered jambs of pale freestone, and a cambered lintel. Inside a louvred wooden frame. The whole looks 18thC.

South wall: the basal plinth contains a foiled lancet, Victorian or later. Some of the plinth's chamfer has been renewed. Next a rectangular window with sunken wooden frame, louvred; jambs of selected shale; lintel has inverted graffito 'B' incised on it. Belfry window as on east with dressed cambered lintel. Waterspout near south-west angle.

West wall: square-headed doorway with double wave chamfer and plain stops. Standard belfry window.

Nave. General. In 'C'. Only western part visible because of aisles.

North wall: two square-headed windows each with two cusped lights, transoms and panels, all in buff-coloured freestone; intermittent signs that the windows have been inserted or their dressings replaced.

South wall: one window as on north side. Possibly some of the wall around the window has been rebuilt.

West wall: cut away for insertion of the upper part of the tower, though not for the base.

North Aisle. General. In Fabric 'C'. Roof of aisle raised at some point to bring it to a level with the chancel.

North wall: in 'C', though the north-west angle and a little of the adjacent wall face has more regular masonry indicative of rebuilding; the quoins here are of well-dressed freestone, but that at the bottom of the wall is a re-used architectural fragment. One square-headed window with three cusped, ogee-headed lights in buff-yellow freestone. A second window to the east is similar but has only two lights. A fair amount of the wall taken down to insert these Victorian windows.

East wall: a square-headed window with wave chamfers, three cusped ogee-headed lights, the mullions replaced, the heads too unweathered to be original but the jambs original. Above is a faintly curved relieving arch of thin slabs on edge. The gable appears to have been raised by c.0.5m, though the masonry change is more obvious on south side than on north, and it may be noted that the window is set lower than the others in the east face of the church, seemingly confirming that the aisle was once lower.

West wall: one square-headed window with a single ogee-headed light, comparable with those on the north side. Victorian renewal or replacement.

North Porch. General. In 'E'. On a chamfered plinth, 0.5m high.

North wall: two-centred arch resting on engaged pillars with decorative mouldings, and outside these, deeply hollowed chamfers. Hoodmould with foliate stops. All in Victorian buff-yellow freestone.

East and west walls: plain.

Chancel. General. In Fabric 'D'. Only the east wall is visible.

East wall: east window has a two-centred arch, four cusped lights with sub-arches and panels above, and a hoodmould with simple stops. All in pale freestone of Victorian date.

South Aisle. General. In Fabric 'D'. Only two walls visible.

East wall: east window has a two-centred arch with three foiled, two-centred lights and panels above, one pair with a transom. Victorian.

South wall: lower part of wall in 'D' but from window sill level it is rebuilt in a variety of 'C', not dissimilar to the north wall of the north aisle, but with some older material mixed in. Three windows, the outer two are single foiled lights, the central one has two lights under a two-centred arch and has a hoodmould with simple stops.

Vestry. General. Added on to west end of south aisle, in Fabric 'F'.

South wall: window similar to the single lights in the south wall of the south aisle but smaller. Below is a sub-surface heating chamber.

West wall: in the centre of wall is a projecting chimney. To the north of it, a square-headed doorway with a chamfered two-centred arch.

Interior

North Porch. General. Tiled floor, one step up from churchyard. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of close-set rafters and a ridge purlin.

North wall: entrance with wire mesh gates.

East and west walls: plain with wooden benches along the wall faces.

South wall: two-centred arch, in standard Victorian freestone, chamfered with broach stops.

Tower. General. One step above the nave; red tiled floor; walls plastered and painted, though boarded off for storage on north, and dado of old pew panels along south side; wooden board ceiling.

North wall: simple, rectangular-headed doorway to tower stair, set in a 19thC or later partition wall.

East wall: wooden panelling with doors to nave.

South wall: old pew panels along wall face as a dado; above is a splayed window.

West wall: slightly splayed embrasure of west door with segmental arch over.

Nave. General. Tiled floor down central aisle, a heating vent grille inserted at one point, though pipes running down sides of nave suggest that the heating system has since been updated. Walls plastered and painted, but at the east end of the nave these give way to the first bays of double three-bay arcades. Plastered barrel ceiling, painted blue. Hubbard pointed out that it was remarkable that this survived Victorian restoration, especially as it concealed medieval timbers. In line with the respond of the first bay is a painted arch brace resting on corbels. Though chamfered it is not obvious that this is timber.

Arcading is of one design and extends along both sides from the nave with one bay into the chancel which has two. For convenience described here. All the arches are two-centred with chamfers interrupted by pyramid stops. These are set on square capitals with brattishing above square pillars with chamfered angles. The second pillar on both sides is of different appearance from the first pillar and the respond in that the chamfers are deeper and have pyramid stops as against the mixture of pyramid and simple broach stops on the other pillars. The exception to this is the most westerly bay on the south side. Here the dressings of the arch are in a slightly different stone, and this is much more obvious with the brattished capital; the overall height of the arch is also lower than all its counterparts. While there is every reason to think that the five arches are Victorian remodellings, it remains possible that this isolated example is original.

North wall: two splayed windows, the dressings Victorian and not painted. Bay of arcade at east end.

East wall: two steps up to the chancel with a low stone screen on either side; no chancel arch.

South wall: solitary splayed window embrasure as north side.

West wall: wooden doorway to tower set in panelled facade which rises to within one metre of ceiling, providing windows into nave from first floor of tower.

Chancel. General. Two steps up from nave, one to sanctuary, one to altar; encaustic tiles. Wooden boarding beneath choir stalls. Wall arcades as described above. More westerly half of the chancel sees the continuation of the barrel ceiling but the eastern half has a Perpendicular wagon roof with ribbed panels and crow's-foot bosses.

North wall: two bays of the arcade and a brass of 1899 commemorating William Morgan.

East wall: splayed window with reredos showing Last Supper and dated to 1925.

South wall: two bays of arcade.

North Chapel. General. Tiled floor as nave with benches on wooden boarding. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of five bays with braced collars resting on wooden corbels, cusped struts and principals. Victorian.

North wall: two splayed windows.

East wall: square-headed window, the heads of the three lights look original; embrasure not splayed; stained glass of 1954.

South wall: arcade of three bays.

West wall: splayed window.

South Chapel. General. Tiled floor as nave, with one heating vent grille; benches on wooden boarding. Walls plastered and painted. Roof is modern barrel vault of 32 ribbed panels. Eastern part of aisle given over to organ, display boards etc.

North wall: three-bay arcade; against the western pier is a fine, early medieval sepulchral slab.

East wall: splayed window.

South wall: three splayed windows and a marble memorial of 1807. On the sill of the middle window are three fragments of a Romanesque shrine.

West wall: covered by mural tablets and brasses, 15 in all. Also doorway to vestry and an undated painting of the church.

Churchyard

Llanrhaeadr churchyard covers an irregular area that appears to be the result of one or more accretions. Apart from a hint of curvilinearity to the north-west of the church the form is irregularly rectilinear. It extends across ground that slopes gently from west to east, but there is also a drop to the River Tanat which skirts the south side of the churchyard.

Boundary: a mortared stone wall on the west and north-east, drystone on the north-east, and a high property wall on the east. On the south is a retaining wall rising some 3m high above the river.

Monuments: well spread on all sides and fairly uniformly distributed though there are some gaps on the west and south. Stones have been cleared to the churchyard edge on the east, and on the north-west where some are laid flat as paving. There are few obvious 18thC monuments, the earliest seen being 1792.

Furniture: a sundial south-west of the nave consists of a modern concrete pillar but the top is smashed and the dial and gnomon have gone.

Earthworks: a river terrace runs north-west to south-east across the churchyard to the south of the church. A second scarp running east to west converges on the first and might also be natural.

The church occupies a slightly raised platform, most noticeable on the east side of the church.

Ancillary features: modern lychgate on the north side, small paired iron gates on the west, and a single iron gate on the south-east. Tarmac paths.

Vegetation: one mature yew west of the church, and a few others of smaller size around the perimeter.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit : 1 May 1997
Crossley 1946, 32
Faculty: St Asaph 1879 (NLW) restoration of church
Faculty: St Asaph 1905 (NLW) new heating and organ
Faculty: St Asaph 1952 (NLW): introsuction of oak chest
Glynne 1884, 189
Gresham 1968, 241
Hubbard 1986, 228
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872, pls 43 & 44
Quinquennial Report 1989
Thomas 1911, 240
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 Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.


The CPAT Montgomeryshire 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 ( 22:02:05 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7RR tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email - chrismartin@cpat.org.uk, website - www.cpat.org.uk.

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