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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Llonio , Llandinam

Llandinam Church is in the Diocese of Bangor, in the community of Llandinam in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0259088549.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16832 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llandinam Church, CPAT copyright photo 2429-13.JPG

Summary

St Llonio's church occupies a spur sheltering the village of Llandinam, 5 miles to the south-west of Newtown. Originally a clas structure, its western tower topped by a pyramidal slate roof over a timber belfry is believed to date from the 13thC. Much of the body of the church was rebuilt at the time of the 19thC restoration, though the north wall of the chancel is original. The church contains a 17thC wooden reredos, two old tomb recesses in the sanctuary, a damaged Perpendicular font and some 17thC carved choir stalls. The triangular form of the churchyard is dictated by the elongated shape of the spur.

The square western tower with its timber belfry is in typical Marches style and is considered to be 13thC, though the top stage has been rebuilt and new fenestration inserted. The main body of the church was rebuilt in 1864-5, leaving only the north wall of the chancel. New windows in square-headed frames were inserted throughout the church at the time of the restoration.

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

History

It is claimed that the church dates back to AD 520, and became a clas establishment that still had an abbot until late in the 13thC. It was the mother church of both Llanidloes and Llanwnnog.

It is recorded as ''Ecclesia de Landinam' in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 with a value of 1 6s 8d.

Not a great deal of information on the pre-19thC church can be gleaned. The 18thC church had a nave and aisle roofed in one pitch, with a wooden arcade between the two, and a gallery. There are several models of the pre-restoration building in the church.

St Llonio's was restored 1864-5 by George Edmund Street. Most of the walls were rebuilt, presumably on the old foundations. The north wall of the chancel was retained, perhaps because it contained a double tomb recess, and the faculty plan (now displayed in the church) suggests that originally the whole north wall was to be retained. All the windows were replaced in neo-Gothic style; the south arcade and the chancel arch were also built anew. Street renewed the timber bell-stage with its steep pyramid roof, and retained a few furnishings from the old church.

The tower and its belfry were reinforced in 1982.

Architecture

The church consists of a nave and chancel of similar width; a south aisle with eastern vestry, the east wall of the latter in alignment with the chancel east wall; a broad squat tower at the west end of the nave; and, in the angle of the tower and south aisle, a south porch. The church is oriented north-north-east/ south-south-west, but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises small to medium blocks and slabs of fine grained sandstone, grey, buff and red in colour, and also some pebblestones; random coursing. Occasional limewash residues. 'B' is of small to medium blocks of medium grained, greyish, quarry-cut sandstone with some coursing. 19thC dressings are in buff-yellow sandstone.

'A' is usually thought to be 13thC, 'B' is from the restoration of 1864-5.

Roofs: slates with decorative red ceramic ridge tiles, except to the porch which are plain black ridge tiles. Cross finials at the nave and chancel ends, at both ends of the south aisle, and on the porch.

Drainage: guttering and downspouts lead to modern drainage. No obvious drainage trench.

Exterior

Tower. General. Broad squat tower in fabric 'A', with north-western stair-turret in the same fabric projecting for little more than 0.3m like a clasping buttress. The timber-framed belfry has a top tier of wooden two-centred arched apertures open to the bells, with weatherboarding below. South and west faces have nine louvred arches, the east and west have ten. Pyramidal slate roof surmounted by a weathercock.

North wall: stepped buttress in 'B' with unweathered red sandstone quoins, at east end adjoining the nave. A square-headed, slit aperture lights ringing chamber, its chamfered dressings in buff-yellow freestone, and the upper part of the wall from window level is in slightly more regular 'A' masonry; the quoins at the north-east angle have been replaced, and it appears that the top stage of the tower has been rebuilt.

East wall: visible only above the nave roofline, the apex of which reaches almost to the timber belfry.

South wall: abutted by south porch which has a drip moulding above its roof. The south wall has two rectangular slit apertures similar to that in the north wall, and both Victorian. The top stage shows similar evidence for rebuilding as on the north side. A diagonal buttress at south-west angle, showing some re-use of stone, but late in date.

West wall: a pair of Victorian trefoiled lights set in two-centred arches light the ground floor, but are off-centre in the wall face and are clearly inserted. The top stage rebuilt, the stone with less limewash than lower down.

The stair turret is also in 'A', but has been heavily pointed; the quoins are not wholly convincing as original stonework, particularly those at the south-west and north-east angles but this could be due to differential weathering and cleaning. There is a continuous basal plinth at a maximum height of 0.3m above ground level. The turret rises to just below the level of the wooden slatted belfry and has a sloping roof of yellow sandstone slabs; red sandstone quoins at the corners. A single round-headed slit window, glazed, is located two-thirds of the way up the west face and has much worn dressings.

Nave. General. In fabric 'B', and only one wall visible.

North wall: a stepped buttress in better dressed stone is located at the nave/chancel divide, and the roof above is divided by coping. Two restoration period square-headed windows with three trefoiled lights and three small trefoil lights above.

Chancel - General. In 'B', but with 'A' in the north wall.

North wall: the whole wall is in 'A' except at the extreme east end where rebuilt in 'B' around the buttress. Some of the red sandstone is dressed and one dressed block sports a hole presumably for pinning. Some of the quoin stones from the north-east corner may have been re-used for rebuilding the wall just below the eaves line. A basal plinth from 0.3-0.6m above ground level, topped by weathered, chamfered blocks. A standard, though shorter, three-light window inserted into the medieval wall at the time of the restoration, with packing in 'B'. A stepped, diagonal buttress at the north-east corner also in 'B', as is its counterpart at the west end of the chancel. This second buttress effectively disguises the join between masonry 'A' and 'B'.

East wall: the east window has a two-centred arch with three two-centred traceried lights and above a multifoiled roundel with trefoils to either side; all in buff-yellow sandstone. Above is a relieving arch of stone voussoirs.

Vestry. General. In 'B' with pale freestone quoins.

East wall: adjoins chancel. Window with two-centred arch with three foiled lights with intersecting Y-tracery, and a relieving arch of voussoirs, all totally Victorian; slightly smaller than its counterpart in the chancel.

South wall: priest's door with a trefoil-headed arch and relieving arch of voussoirs above. To the west is a standard square-headed window of three lights. A stepped buttress marks the vestry/south aisle divide, and there is a projecting gable.

South aisle. General. In 'B'.

South wall: three 19thC windows with two-centred arches and trefoiled lights, and relieving arches of voussoirs, though the design of the most easterly window differs from its companions.

West wall: visible above the south porch roofline is a round light containing three multifoil lights.

South porch. General. Plinth, with chamfered top, at 0.6m on the west side and at 0.9m on the west wall. The west wall also has a string course at c.1.5m which continues on the south side but only as far as the south door. The south wall has an open, two-centred entrance arch of two orders with hoodmould and relieving arch, flanked by two short open lancets.

Interior

Porch. General. 19thC tiled floor; plastered and painted walls with exposed dressed stone; scissor-braced roof of nine trusses springing from wall plates.

North wall: two-centred, red sandstone arch with hollow chamfers and a distinctively asymmetric appearance; some of the dressings might be original though the arrises are sharp. Gives access to the tower.

East and west walls: stone benches on plinths along walls. East wall also contains Victorian doorway to south aisle.

Tower. General. Consists of a ground floor baptistry, first floor ringing chamber and a timber framed belfry. The ground floor has a 19thC tiled floor, with two fonts mounted on a central plinth; plastered and painted walls, with exposed stonework around the apertures. Heavy planked ceiling of solid oak joists on stone corbels in each wall.

North wall: modern concrete stairs lead to doorway in north-west corner which has an asymmetric round-headed arch, all in chamfered pink sandstone. Four 19thC marble monuments.

East wall: high two-centred tower arch of three orders in pink sandstone; entrance to nave.

South wall: high, almost pointed, moulded arch with engaged shafts, square, chamfered capitals and a 1m-deep reveal to the external door. The high arch is recessed to a second triangular-headed arch in the thickness of the wall which has sharp arrises and looks late in date; this in turn is recessed to the exterior asymmetric doorway arch. The red sandstone arch is presumably the old nave doorway inserted into the higher arched doorway of the tower during the 19thC restoration. A wall monument of 1668 is located directly above the apex of the interior arch.

West wall: deeply splayed window with two-centred arch, the sloping stone sill exposed.

Ringing chamber has whitewashed walls and deeply splayed round-arched apertures to the north and south lights. The entrance to the chamber is in the north-west corner and has red sandstone shafts. An open wooden stair leads to a trap door through the belfry floor, which rests on stone corbels.

Nave. General. Two steps up from the baptistry in tower. Central aisle, carpet covered, separates two rows of benches; heating grilles in evidence; flush wooden planked floors below benches. Walls plastered and painted, except for the dressed stone; nave and chancel under a roof of close-set arch-braced collar trusses with shorter collars near the apex supporting a collar purlin; the trusses spring from the wall plates and offer what is almost a wagon roof effect: of Victorian date.

North wall: brass war memorial and also a small brass of 1928.

East wall: two-centred chancel arch of two orders springing from corbels with capitals; hoodmould over.

South wall: four-bay arcade of two-centred arches supported on a central octagonal pillar, two flanking, lobed pillars, and plain east and west responds; the three pillars have matching capitals.

West wall: two-centred tower arch (see above). Incorporated Church Building Society plaque recording grant of 25 in 1864.

Chancel. General. Two steps up from the nave. Tiled floors, some encaustic, with raised wooden flooring under the choir stalls; two steps to the sanctuary, one to the altar. Set into the chancel floor are five small memorial tablets to members of the Davies family and carrying dates of 1668 to 1783, though the tablets themselves are more recent. Walls as nave. Ceiling has a wagon roof with moulded ribs and twenty-five panels.

North wall: stained glass window of restoration date above a pair of red sandstone, arched sepulchral recesses, c.0.3-0.4m deep. The western recess has an arch of two orders and a slightly hollowed chamfer to the dressings; it is half hidden by the choir stalls; the eastern arch, also of two orders with a two-centred arch and slight hollow chamfers, has a hoodmould with different stops - the east is a round abstract design and carved and the west is dog-tooth ornament; both are worn. A wall tablet on the back of the west recess records deaths from 1813 through to 1857. A stone corner shelf in the north-east angle on a head-corbel: it may have supported a statue.

South wall: a piscina under a trefoil-headed arch, a sedile in a square-headed recess, and a Victorian two-centred arch of two orders to the organ chamber.

South aisle. General. Tile floor; walls as nave; roof of similar design to that in the nave.

North wall: arcade as described above.

East wall: two-centred arch to east organ chamber; the arch contains a wood panelled screen from 1927.

South wall: three windows. 20thC brass.

West wall: two-centred arch recessed to south porch; round window aperture above.

Organ chamber. General. One step up from the arch. Organ sited in arch on south side of chancel with the room behind it (to the south) used for storage. East of this is the vestry which is partitioned off, and there is a 15thC/17thC triptych to the south side of the two-centred entrance arch into the vestry.

Vestry. Not accessible.

Churchyard

The churchyard is a long triangular area sloping gently south-westwards towards the end of the spur, with a considerable drop to the valley of the Severn on the west. There is a modern extension on the north-east side.

Boundary: the old churchyard is hedged above a stone revetment wall on the north-west side, and a new stone wall continues around the south-east corner to the entrance and adjoining lychgate. North of this a hedge divides the yard from adjoining properties with an external drop of many metres. The modern burial ground at the north-east has a fenced boundary.

Monuments: a churchyard survey undertaken by the W.I. in the early 1980s recorded 1006 graves. In 1985 considerable clearance work was undertaken: loose kerbs were removed and the churchyard was levelled though few graves were left unmarked. The lower burial ground to the south-west contains a large number of roughly carved 18thC stones, many of which are broken. The earliest noted are Charles Hughes (d.1771) and his wife (d.1776), and Thomas Pryse (d.1777) and H.W. (d.1779). However, several are only carved with initials and a date; and one of 1712 appears to be the earliest, although inside the church is a fragmentary slab of 1707 which might originally have been outside.

A large railed family grave north-west of the church includes that of the industrialist David Davies (d.1890) and other chest tombs. Two unusual cobblestone graves are located on the south side in the lower burial ground.

Earthworks: a line of sycamores above a grassy bank forms the division of the old churchyard on the north-east side. A watching brief when a new entrance was cut through the bank revealed apparently clean clay deposits overlain by modern dumping. In the south-western part of the churchyard is a 1.0m scarp drop, perhaps an earlier boundary, and the oak mentioned below is set on this. Finally there is a scarp immediately to the south-west of the church which represents the edge of the platform on which the church is located.

Ancillary features: modern lychgate at south-east entrance. Tarmac paths, but a gravel path leads west from the church to a single wooden gate in the north-west boundary.

Vegetation: an ancient yew tree claimed to be around 800 years old in the centre of the burial ground to the south-west of the church. South-west of the yew is a large oak tree. Another large yew to the north-west of the church. Several Irish yews on the west side.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1996
CPAT Field Visits: 6 February 1996 and 4 June 1998
Eisel 1986, 180
Haslam 1979, 120
Llandinam Churchyard Survey
Lunt 1926, 190
NMR Aberystwyth
Powys SMR
Quinquennial Reports 1986 and 1991
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 Llandinam 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 - chrismartin@cpat.org.uk, website - www.cpat.org.uk.

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