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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Gwrhai , Penstrowed

Penstrowed Church is in the Diocese of Bangor, in the community of Mochdre in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0695591553.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16392 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Penstrowed Church, CPAT copyright photo CS962109.JPG


St George's church, about two miles west of Newtown, is a small structure on the southern edge of the Severn valley which was completely rebuilt in 1863. The only fittings that certainly pre-date this work are a memorial of 1821 and a dis-used stoup. It is set in a small, rectangular churchyard, supposedly the site of a 6thC church.

A wholly Victorian church built in 1863.

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


The church was reputedly founded around 520 by St Gwrhai who is said to be buried in the churchyard. The Ordnance Survey have transformed this to St George.

In the Norwich Taxation of 1254 'Ecclesia de Penestrewit' was valued at 5s.

Nothing appears to be recorded about the structure(s) that were here prior to the Victorian era.

The church was entirely rebuilt in 1863 though few details of the works are available.


This small church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a south porch, north vestry and a western bellcote. It is oriented north-west/south-east but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of medium-sized blocks of quarry-cut, grey sedimentary rock, perhaps a siltstone, irregularly coursed; buff yellow sandstone dressings.

Roofs: slates, black ceramic ridge tiles; a now lost finial to the chancel.

Drainage: 19thC guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. No obvious drainage trench.

Note: as this is a wholly 19thC construction, the description below is a summary one only.


Nave and chancel. General. No external differentiation. All in fabric 'A', with sandstone quoins at the corners.

North wall: from the west end: i) a square-headed aperture containing three cusped, two-centred lights. ii) a central stepped buttress. iii) a window with a two-centred arch, two ogee-headed lights and tracery above. iv) the vestry.

East wall: there is a red sandstone basal plinth with chamfered top which is also continuous around the south wall. East window has a two-centred arch over three cusped lights with Y-tracery; hoodmould with vine leaf stops; wire mesh protection over the window.

South wall: basal plinth of red sandstone blocks. Two square-headed windows each containing three cusped two-centred lights and small lights in the spandrels. Between them a stepped buttress.

West wall: two-centred arch to the window with three cusped, two-centred lights and a central cinquefoil above. A stepped bellcote rises above the west gable, and contains apertures with two-centred arches on the east and west and hoodmoulds above; a single bell.

Vestry. General. Stone plinth c.0.3m high around the whole vestry; in the north wall is a splayed, two-centred arch over two cusped, two-centred lights with a small tracery light above.

Porch. General. Chamfered plinth is continuous from the nave. South entrance has a two-centred arch with hoodmould and leaf stops, and jambs that are chamfered with pyramid stops; above in the apex of the gable is a blind opening with a trefoil; a light over the arch. No windows in the side walls. Diagonal buttresses at the south-west and south-east corners.


Porch. General. Red and black tiled floor; whitewashed walls with wooden benches to either side; plastered ceiling above exposed rafters and purlins. North wall (= south wall of the nave) contains the main doorway to the church with a moulded two-centred arch in red sandstone. There is no sign of wear and it is presumed to be 19thC, though elaborate and utilising a different type of stone from that of the windows.

Nave. General. Red and black tiled floor, carpet down the aisle and grilles above heating vents; raised planked floor supports benches. Walls plastered and painted blue, the masonry of the splayed window embrasures painted cream. Roof of five bays over the nave and chancel, formed by six arching scissor trusses springing from stone corbels carved with figures; ceiling is plastered above exposed rafters and purlins. At the west end is a raised wooden floor behind a wooden screen, all of 19thC origin.

North wall: one 19thC marble and one 20thC brass, together with a wooden First World War memorial.

South wall: marble memorial of 1821 and one modern brass.

West wall: window embrasure.

Chancel. General. No differentiation between the nave and chancel, while the sanctuary is raised by a single step; encaustic tiled floor; wooden flooring under the longitudinal choir stalls in chancel. Walls and roof as nave.

North wall: the two-centred arch to vestry has chamfered dressings.

East wall: window with painted inscription above. Decalogue boards to either side.

Vestry. General. Wooden floor, plastered walls and ceiling. Contains bellows for the organ.


A small rectangular churchyard set back off the main Newtown to Llanidloes road. Well maintained. A church hall is constructed in an extension at the north-west end.

Boundary: a stone wall on the south-west and south-east sides; a hedged boundary on the north-west and north-east.

Monuments: clearance in the 1970s, when many headstones were removed and placed along the inside of the south wall. There is a fairly even distribution of graves off the north and west sides, mainly 19thC slabs, some crosses and modern burials. Scattered chest tombs and family graves off the east side, including a chest tomb of 1805. Two large family graves adjoin the south wall.

Furniture: none noted.

Ancillary features: a pair of modern wrought iron gates with a single gate adjoining them provides access in the west corner; a gravel path leads to the south porch. A grass path leads to a small entrance gate in the south-east boundary for the former rectory.

Vegetation: line of three Irish yews south of the church; two stumps of older yews remain close to the south wall.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit 31: January 1996 and 24 July 1998
Eisel 1986, 192
Haslam 1979, 183
Lunt 1926, 191
Powys SMR
Quinquennial Reports 1985 and 1990
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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 Penstrowed Church may also be found on the Bangor 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 -, website -

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