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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Garmon , Castle Caereinion

Castle Caereinion Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Castle Caereinion in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1636105489.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16739 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Castle Caereinion Church, CPAT copyright photo CS962122.JPG

Summary

The church of St Garmon in the centre of Castle Caereinion is entirely the result of rebuilding in 1866. It contains a chest dated to 1758, a pair of chairs, a fine Royal Arms, a brass of 1700 and two 17thC bells. A large mound in the north corner of the rectangular churchyard is believed to have been a motte and traces of embanking around the churchyard edge could reflect the bailey.

The church was completely rebuilt in 1866 and a tower with a spire and a porch were added in 1874.

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

History

The dedication might suggest an early medieval origin, but there is nothing to confirm this belief, and the current view is that the church resulted from the development of the castle which was built in 1156.

The church was recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Cap'lla de Castell' with a value of 1 6s 8d, and in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 as 'Ecclia de Castell' at 6 13s 4d.

There seems to have been a single-chambered church of the early 15thC on the site. The chancel was refurbished in 1691, but many of the furnishings were stolen six years later. The rural dean's reports of 1729 and 1748 commended the church, though in 1736 the west end of the church had fallen down and had to be rebuilt on a new foundation. By 1791 there were problems with the floor because of the burials beneath it, and the roof was damaged in 1799. The church was partly rebuilt in 1812-13 at a cost of 600, when one of the gables, the south wall and the roof were renewed; at this time, too, the building was re-pewed, a new window inserted in the east wall, and a new gallery erected. Fuller details gleaned from the 18thC churchwardens' accounts are recounted in Brown 1997.

A school was held in the church until 1812, when a school-house was built; the red brick building outside the north gates is the new school built in 1852.

The church was rebuilt by E.E. Wyatt in 1866 in Early English style. To it a tower and spire with a porch on the ground floor were added by Thomas Batt in 1874.

Architecture

The building consists of a nave and slightly narrower chancel, a west tower and south vestry representing total rebuilding in the second half of the 19thC. It is oriented south-west/north-east, but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabric 'A': quarry-cut, fine-grained, greenish-grey shaley sandstone, random coursing, with buff-yellow sandstone dressings. Used for the body of the church and the tower. Breeze blocks used for the modern boiler house adjoining the vestry.

Roofs: slates with ceramic ridge tiles. Chancel roofline is lower than the nave and has decorative ironwork along the ridge. No finials.

Drainage: 19thC guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. Gravel band along the north side, tarmac paths on the east and south but no clear evidence of a trench along the walls.

Note: Because Castle Caereinion is a 19thC construction, the following is an outline description only.

Exterior

The fenestration consists of either single wide lancets or two-light windows, which have paired lancets with round lights above. All apertures set flush with the walls and have voussoirs for the relieving arches except where stated.

Tower. General. At the west end of the nave is a square three-stage tower with a broach spire surmounted by a weathervane. In the angle formed by its north side and the west end of the nave is a square stair tower rising to a five-sided, coned roof at second-floor level; it has a window slit on the north side and another together with a shoulder-arched exterior doorway facing west. Angle buttresses at west corners of tower, a chamfered plinth at a height of c.0.3m and a continuous string course on all sides immediately above buttress level, this delineating the belfry floor level. Lancet lights to the ground floor on the north and south sides, but a two-centred doorway with fluted chamfers and hoodmould on the west. All but the east wall have clock faces at second floor level and in addition the west wall has a pair of trefoil-headed lights with separate relieving arches. Belfry apertures on all sides but the east; each have paired louvred lancets with roundels above under a two-centred arch with a hoodmould and a relieving arch.

Nave. General. Four buttresses form three bays on north side, and three buttresses on the south side forming three bays, with the vestry at the east end. Each bay contains a frameless window of the sort noted above, except at the east end of the nave on its north side where there is a standard window with a trefoiled head and no relieving arch. In the east wall is a below-ground entrance to a former boiler room.

Chancel. General. Narrower and lower than the nave. The chancel itself is lit by small trefoil-headed lights in the north wall and south walls, and a two-centred arched window with three stepped trefoiled lights and small roundels in the east wall. A chimney rises above the south side of the roof.

Vestry. General. A pair of shouldered lights in the south wall and a high doorway with a two-centred arch in the west wall.

Interior

Tower. general. Entrance porch on ground floor. 19thC tiled floor; interior walls are brick, whitewashed; wooden planked ceiling, the frame of which is supported on stone corbels.

North wall: deeply splayed aperture to lancet window, and one 19thC marble memorial.

East wall: has a broad two-centred doorway with fluted chamfers, leading to the nave. Also one 19thC marble memorial and another of 1763.

South wall: aperture as north wall. Incorporated Society for Building and Churches plaque which is undated. Two stone Benefaction tablets.

West wall: the two-centred reveal of the west doorway is turned in brick.

Nave. General. One step up from the porch. 19thC tiled floors and some carpetting; benches on raised planking. Plastered and painted walls; no dados but instead horizontal ribs run along the north and south sides at a similar height. The roof of six arch-braced collar and scissor trusses with some cusping. These spring from short wall posts set on stone corbels.

East wall: a two-centred chancel arch of two orders, the inner rising from corbel posts on the wall sides. One 19thC brass.

West end: a gallery at the west end is supported by four square, chamfered uprights, and its panelled front is pierced by trefoils. Access to the gallery is from the exterior staircase turret. At gallery level, a large, almost segmental arch in the west wall is panelled off, and on this the Royal Arms.

Chancel. General. Two steps up from the nave, one to the sanctuary, one to the altar. Floor and walls as nave, though there are encaustic tiles in the sanctuary. The roof has a coved wood-panelled ceiling - 35 panels in all - painted blue with gold stars.

North wall: has a two-centred arch to organ recess. One 20thC marble memorial.

East wall: Decalogue boards to either side of the altar, and a panelled alabaster reredos.

South wall: a two-centred arch to the vestry. One 19thC marble memorial and two 20thC brasses.

Vestry. General. Concrete floor, plastered and painted walls, and a simple raftered roof.

Churchyard

A medium-sized sub-square enclosure with rounded corners on two sides. Some internal embanking for much of the perimeter, and the enclosure is supposed to be the bailey associated with the castle mound in the north corner. The churchyard is very well kept.

Boundary: stone wall on all sides.

Monuments: an even distribution of graves on all sides, mainly 19thC memorials with considerable variation in style. South of the tower a modern memorial incorporates twelve 18thC sandstone slabs, some broken, dating between 1738 and 1768. There have been changes to the layout: in 1967 and again in 1988 some grave markers were laid flat and others were re-sited.

Furniture: sundial with gnomon and a small plate, c.0.15m square inscribed 'Ino Iames Wm Pugh Wardens 1764' and made by O. Ratclife, Pool, on a square slab resting on a baluster pedestal on a stepped base. This sundial was restored and remounted on the plinth outside the west door as a memorial to the Gwynne family.

A second sundial is located within a kerbed grave to the north side of the church: a slim circular pedestal is surmounted by a small gnomon, on a sandstone base, and the plate is inscribed 'Time and Tide wait for no man'.

Earthworks: a large grassy mound in the north-east corner is known as 'Twmpath Garmon', and this has led to its identification as a preaching mound, associated with St Garmon. An alternative view which seems reasonable is that it was the motte built in 1156 by Madoc ap Mareddud. As noted above the churchyard enclosure is the suggested site of the bailey, and there are clear signs of embankment particularly on the north-east side. The churchyard is raised though generally by no more than 0.5m.

Ancillary features: main entrance on north-west through pair of wrought iron gates with an adjacent metal kissing gate. There are single gates in east and south corners and a stiled entrance in the south-west wall. Concrete and gravel paths.

Vegetation: ring of five large yew trees, four on raised mounds, located around the southern and western boundary. Yews of lesser girth on east boundary and a 19thC yew on the north side of the graveyard.

Sources consulted

Brown 1997, 1
CPAT Field Visit: 28 February 1996 and 22 September 1998
Eisel 1986, 175
Faculty: St Asaph 1873 (NLW)
Faculty: St Asaph 1967 (NLW)
Faculty: St Asaph 1979 (NLW)
Haslam 1979, 89
NMR Aberystywth
Powys SMR
Ridgway 1997, 52
Thomas 1913, 140
Williams 1990, 59
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 Castle Caereinion 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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