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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Etheldreda , Hyssington

Hyssington Church is in the Diocese of Hereford, in the community of Churchstoke in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO3135894574.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16799 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Hyssington Church, CPAT copyright photo CS922807.JPG

Summary

St Etheldreda's church in Hyssington lies in the extreme east of the old county of Montgomeryshire, about 10 miles to the south-east of Welshpool. It is a single-chambered church, very heavily restored in the 19thC, and it is impossible to determine whether any of its medieval fabric survives. Internally nothing other than a medieval font and a Jacobean pulpit have been retained. It is set in a drystone-walled rectangular churchyard, adjacent to a motte and bailey known as Castle Hill.

It is impossible to determine whether the lower walls of the church are of medieval build or have been completely rebuilt - there are certainly some changes in the masonry but their significance is elusive. Rebuilding in 1875 was in simple Gothic. There are hints, particularly in the alignments of the nave and chancel, that the latter may have been added on as an extension on the east. This carries the implication that some of the earlier structure was retained. The interior was completely refurbished.

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

History

The dedication to St Etheldreda, the daughter of a 7thC king of East Anglia, is the only one of its kind in Wales. This, however, is not to suggest that Hyssington had an early medieval origin. On present evidence it is more likely to have originated after the Norman Conquest.

The church was recorded as the 'capella de Hyfynton' in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 with a value of 5.

It has been suggested that the core of the present church is 13thC but this remains to be proved. It is known that the church was largely rebuilt in 1875, but few details of the work are available, and the relevant faculty papers have not been located.

In 1951 some work was done on the west window.

Architecture

The church consists of a single chamber with a double bellcote at the west end and a vestry on the north side of the chancel. It is oriented west-south-west/east-north-east, but 'ecclesiastical east' is used for the church, though not for the churchyard.

Fabric: 'A' comprises small to medium blocks of greyish sandstone with dressings in the same fabric, some coursing. 'B' is of small to medium blocks and slabs of dark sandstone and shale, with some light grey sandstone; shows as a more mixed fabric than 'A', and may indicate re-use. 'C' comprises blocks and slabs of grey stone (?dolerite-type) and sandstone, some in irregular triangular blocks; irregular coursing.

All of these fabrics could be 19thC, perhaps showing different levels of re-use.

Roofs: slates with cusped ridge tiles over nave and chancel; vestry with red tiles. Cross finial at the east end and a double western bellcote.

Drainage: 19thC guttering leads to soakaways. No obvious drainage trench.

Exterior

Nave and chancel. General. Undifferentiated nave and chancel, described here as one. Chamfered plinth at c.0.5m above ground level, and a string course, c.1.5m above ground level, around the chancel. Although there appear to be different fabrics on display, it is impossible to determine whether any of these have a chronological significance.

North wall: two 20thC lean-to corrugated sheds against the nave wall, and a vestry adjoins the north wall of the chancel. Wall plinthed at 0.4m but seemingly homogeneous fabric above and below it. Window of paired, foiled, ogee-headed lights in yellow freestone, without an arch. A single light of similar form illuminates the sanctuary.

East wall: lower part of wall in 'A', the upper part in 'B'. A three-light Geometric window, with a two-centred arch and a hoodmould with headstops.

South wall: at the west end of the wall is a two-centred doorway with stopped, fluted chamfers and a hoodmould and headstops; a stepped entrance directly into the nave. Two standard two-light windows to the nave and two single-light windows in the chancel. A single buttress, stepped and stone capped, is set at the juncture of nave and chancel, the string course running as far as the buttress. All of the wall face appears to be in 'A', but below the plinth larger and less regular blocks of stone are included in the fabric.

West wall: in 'C' with a plinth at c.0.4m. Two square-headed lights in stone replaced the original tracery of the west window, which had become worn and unstable, in 1951. The lights are set below the old two-centred arch with hoodmould and head stops, and the tympanum has been filled with stone.

The double bellcote is faced in both dressed stone and rubble. Two apertures with foiled ogee heads

Vestry. General. In 'A'. Plinthed at c.0.3m. Simple two-centred entrance doorway with stopped chamfers in the east wall; and a single cinquefoiled, ogee-headed window in the west wall.

Interior

Nave. General. Stone flagged floor with flush wooden planking below benches (which were installed as late as 1936 to replace loose chairs), and carpet down the central aisle. Walls plastered and painted. 19thC scissor-braced roof with 15 trusses springing from wall plates, and herringbone panels behind; plain wallplates. Deeply splayed window embrasures. Virtually no fittings on the walls.

Chancel. General. Two steps up from the nave, two more to the sanctuary and two to the altar. 19thC tiles, though a wooden floor below choir stalls. Walls and window embrasures as nave, but the walls appear to be on a fractionally different alignment from those of the nave. Ten close-set arched-braced collar trusses provide an open wagon roof over the chancel; crenellated wallplates.

North wall: credence shelf at window sill level supported on stone brackets which are decorated with 19thC Tudor roses; to the west is a two-centred arched doorway to the vestry, with cushion stops to the chamfers.

East wall: continuous internal string course below sill level.

South wall: piscina in ogee-arched recess, and sedile formed below the window embrasure on this side. One 19thC marble memorial.

Vestry. General. Two steps down to a tiled floor; plastered walls, and sloping tongue and groove wooden ceiling. Incorporated Society for Building and Churches Board records a rebuilding grant of 1875.

Churchyard

The churchyard is a sub-rectangular enclosure occupying a low-lying spur running off Castle Hill. There are no obvious signs that it has been enlarged at any time. It is still used for burial.

Boundary: drystone walls form a revetment to the churchyard on all sides except on the south-east where the wall rises above the slope.

Monuments: mainly 18thC/19thC gravestones; some recent burials and some railed graves. An even distribution of graves, and the churchyard was tidied up considerably several years ago. Chest tombs are located below the south-east yew tree. The earliest gravestone noted is from 1713, just to the south of the nave, and there is a small but interesting number of 18thC monuments.

Furniture: none noted.

Earthworks: church is set on a slight platform, most noticeable at the west end of the building where it extends for several metres. The churchyard is raised by between 0.5-1m on all sides but the south-east, and on the south-west it is also banked internally.

Ancillary features: a single wrought iron gate at the south-east entrance, and a tarmac path leads up to the south door.

Vegetation: three ancient yews on the south side of church, with mature deciduous and coniferous species elsewhere.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit 8 December 1995 and 1 May 1998
Eisel 1986, 178
Haslam 1979, 112
Herefordshire Parish Records, 1951 (HRO) - church repairs
NMR Aberystwyth
Powys SMR
RCAHMW 1911, 50
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 Hyssington Church may also be found on the Hereford 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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