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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Tysilio , Llandysilio

Llandysilio Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llandysilio in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ2678019314.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16410 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llandysilio Church, CPAT copyright photo CS956125.JPG

Summary

St Tysilio's church occupies an isolated position on level ground immediately above the Vyrnwy Valley, and is set back a short distance from the A483 Welshpool to Oswestry Road, one mile south of Llanymynech. The present church was built in 1867 on the site of its predecessor within a sub-circular churchyard. The only pre-19thC fittings and furnishings are a stoup, a brass of 1674, a few 18thC wall tablets and a sundial of 1760 in the churchyard.

The present church was built in Decorated Gothic in 1867.

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

History

Tradition has it that the church was founded by Tysilio in the early 7thC. Certainly the dedication, the churchyard morphology and the location above the Vyrnwy floodplain strongly signal an early medieval foundation.

Llandysilio was listed as 'Capella de Llantesilyau', a chapelry attached to Llandrinio in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 with a value of 13s 4d. By 1291, it was listed in the Lincoln Taxation as an independent establishment, 'Ecclia de Landisyliau' valued at 4 6s 8d.

A sketch pre-dating 1833 shows a belfry with pyramidal top towards the west end of the nave, low walls to the nave, dwarf angle buttresses at the west end, a dormer window in the south roof, a chancel smaller than the nave, and a large timber porch with a gable end that incorporated a lintel and raking struts.

The church underwent some changes in the 18thC (see Thomas), and in 1833 further work included the removal of the old belfry and its replacement by a west tower, the reconstruction of the gallery and other works. A drawing survives to give some impression of the structure, and reveals a curious change in the height of the nave in line with the south porch. On the basis of windows re-used in Old Church Cottage, it contained square-headed windows, at least one with three round-headed lights, (and another of four lights shows in the skecth), but also a two-centred window with trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil above in the chancel. Thomas also refers to a pedestalled stoup, two early Decorated windows and a modern triple lancet.

The date of Sir Stephen Glynne's visit is unrecorded but it was before the rebuilding recorded below. The modern west tower was mentioned, and also a rather long chancel. The nave roof was at two different levels, a mixture of windows including both Decorated and Perpendicular, a priest's door, and a south porch which appeared to be 16thC. The pulpit and desk were in the chancel and the font appeared 'to be Norman, octagonal in form, with a kind of scalloped ornament on each face, at the base a moulded band'.

Such was the church's ruinous condition a few decades later that it was demolished; a petition was presented in 1863, and a new church built to the plans of G.E.Street in 1867 at a cost of 2400, in a style which marks the transition from Early English to Decorated (A full description is given in Pryce 1900). During the demolition a Norman capital was found in the wall; this is now lost. There was also some clearance of gravestones from the churchyard at this time.

The new church was reportedly built a few metres to the north of the old site and material from the old church was used to build up the ground on the north side. This however is at odds with a statement in 1900 that the new church was built 'almost on the same foundations'.

Architecture

Llandysilio church comprises a nave with a north aisle, a chancel, organ chamber, vestry and open timber south porch. Adjoining the west end of the north aisle is a circular turret surmounted by a conical top. The building is oriented west-south-west/east-north-east, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A, small to medium, squared blocks of greenish-grey dolerite (Criggion stone), irregular coursing. Dressings in buff-coloured freestone. 'B' is of rubblestone and brownish-red sandstone, visible at the wall base on parts of the south, east and west walls below a slate course.

'A' is 19thC, as is 'B' on the basis of its appearance beneath the buttresses.

Roofs: slates with scalloped red ceramic ridge tiles, and cross finials at both ends of the nave and east end of the chancel.

Drainage: original cast iron downspouts lead to soakaways, and there is a 0.3m-wide hollow beside the wall on all sides.

Note: as the whole building dates from 1867, the following record is no more than a summary. The masonry is 'A' throughout.

Exterior

Tower. General. Circular bell tower against west wall of north aisle. Three string courses; shoulder-arched door on north side. Four slit windows to the tower stair. Belfry is ashlar-faced and is encircled by eight, open, cusped lancet lights and above these a continuous moulding. The conical roof has a weathercock.

North aisle. General. Continuous string course beneath the windows. A single stepped buttress on the north side and also two pairs of cusped lancets and a triple set at the east end together with a single lancet to the vestry. Elongated paired lancets with cusped heads at the west end; a relieving arch.

Nave. General. String course as north aisle. All windows have relieving arches of voussoirs immediately above the freestone. The south wall contains a single lancet west of the entrance porch, a two-centred doorway (in the porch) which has a hoodmould with foliate stops, and east of the porch, two three-light windows of different designs the lights with cusped tracery under two-centred arches with hoodmoulds; and two buttresses. The west wall has two pairs of long lancets with a roundel above, all under two-centred arches.

Chancel. General. Slightly narrower than the nave and has a lower roof line. String course as above. North wall has a single foiled lancet and a half-buttress, the east wall, a window of three stepped lights with cusped tracery under a two-centred arch with hoodmould and foliate stops, and the south wall, two pairs of double lancet lights, that to the west with cusped lights and the only window without a relieving arch and a hoodmould, that to the east with hoodmould and 'lion' stops, and a half buttress near the south-east corner. One of the windows has incised 'AMDG 1868' around the quatrefoil above the main lights.

Vestry. General. Continuation of north aisle. Steps lead down to the boiler room.

Porch. General. On the south is an open timber-framed porch supported on stone plinths. Entrance arch has a cusped head.

Interior

Porch. General. Tiled floor; arch-braced roof with collars, forming five narrow bays.

Tower. General. Not accessible. It is presumed that the spiral staircase winds around a central newel post, the curves of the staircase protruding at two points in the nave and the north aisle.

Nave. General. 19thC tiles, carpetted over. Heating grilles along aisle and at back. All walls plastered (or replastered) about 7 years ago, leaving only the dressed stone exposed; splayed windows; arcade on north side of four two-centred arches on round piers with moulded capitals. Brass of 1674 and two 19thC brasses on the west wall, and a 20thC marble memorial on the north wall. Nave of six bays with arch-braced trusses with cusped heads, exposed rafters and through purlins.

North aisle. General. Similar to nave in that tiles on floor with heating vent grille along the aisle, plastered walls, but the roof has close-set scissor-braces with collars. A 1799 memorial tablet, two others of the 19thC and an early 19thC brass all on the north wall; a two-centred cusped arch to the vestry. Marble memorials on the west wall include that to Thomas Lloyd, and one of 1782 on the south wall.

Chancel. General. Two steps up to the chancel from nave with further staggered steps to the altar. 19thC encaustic tiles and heating vent grilles. Walls as nave; two-centred arched doorway to vestry with a credence in the sanctuary; east window has hoodmould with foliate stops above a Caen stone reredos; the south wall has a sedile and a piscina in a double cusped arched recess. Three-bay roof of four arch-braced collar trusses with decorated trefoils above the collars. Double piscina and sedilia on south.

Vestry. General. 19thC tiled floor, walls plastered and a sloping plastered ceiling with exposed rafters.

Churchyard

The original sub-circular churchyard was extended to the north-west in 1951. It is well maintained.

Boundary: a stone revetment wall maintains original boundary.

Monuments: yard is levelled off to the south of the church and cleared of earlier gravemarkers. Several highly decorated 19thC and 20thC chest tombs; two on the south side, seven on the east side of the church. The earliest graves, some re-sited, are also located on the east side of the church: slabs, dating from 1666, 1724 and 1754 and recording the deaths of the Clopton and Penrhyn families of Llandysilio, are laid flat within a stone kerb, which may cover a vault. One such vault, exposed to about 2m below ground level, collapsed several years ago. The hole exposed four tombs in the vault which ran under the church.

Furniture: sundial with gnomon dated 1760 located alongside the entrance path. Made by John Evans of Shrewsbury and there are much weathered initials in the sandstone just below the rim.

Earthworks: considerable work undertaken at the time of the 1867 restoration: the north side of the churchyard, which sloped steeply away to the outer wall, was raised by infilling with stone from the old church. The churchyard now appears raised by 0.3m on south-east, 1.5m or so on east and north, and 0.2m on west.

Ancillary features: wrought-iron entrance gates set in concrete pillars on the south side of churchyard with a tarmac path directly to the porch and others off to the west.

On the south-west of the churchyard is Old School House (now Old Church Cottage), built in 1896, which utilises three of the original church windows. The lancets in the east wall are renewed, but the windows in the north and south walls are original.

Vegetation: twelve mature yew trees just inside the original circular enclosure and one more by the west path. Several are probably c.200-300 years old.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1993
CPAT Field Visit 23 October 1995 and 5 March 1998
Eisel 1986, 181
Faculty St Asaph 1867 (NLW): restoration
Faculty St Asaph 1951 (NLW): churchyard extension
Glynne 1885, 41
Haslam 1979, 125
NMR Aberystwyth
Powys SMR
Pryce 1900
Thomas 1913, 160
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 Llandysilio 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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