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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Myllin , Llanfyllin

Llanfyllin Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanfyllin in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1417619564.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16860 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Summary

St Myllin's church in Llanfyllin, a small town just over 8 miles north-west of Welshpool, is a brick-built structure of 1706, extended in 1826 for a girls' schoolroom, and showing some restoration from the mid-19thC. Its fenestration includes both Georgian and Romanesque styles. Inside there are 18thC fittings including a gallery, chandelier, chest, table and font but nothing of earlier date. There is evidence of a raised sub-circular churchyard, subsequently extended, but the majority of gravemarkers have been removed, leaving only a few together with a sundial.

Primarily a Georgian building of 1706 with restoration work of c.1857 when the nave and chancel windows were replaced.

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

History

St Myllin, a corruption of St. Moling, is believed to have been a 7thC Irish monk. The dedication is unique, but tradition says he was buried under the altar of the early church. The location and churchyard morphology as well as the dedication point firmly to an early medieval foundation, though no traces of such an early date remain.

The earliest church references are in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 where it is cited as 'Capella de Llanvelig' at a value of 20s, and in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 where it was worth 8 1s 8d.

In 1706 the present church superseded a substantial earlier building which had a wooden belfry; its long nave was a little narrower than the chancel, there was a west door, its screen had already been removed. The new building in Georgian style had box pews including some on either side of the sanctuary.

A schoolroom was added on the north side in 1826, and the organ was purchased in 1854.

In the years between 1857 and 1867, renovations to the plans of Walter Scott, an architect of Birkenhead, included the addition the 'Romansesque' chancel arches, the emplacement of new window surrounds, the adaption of the schoolroom to an organ chamber and Lady Chapel, and their separation from the nave by Norman-style arches.

The boiler house was added to the north wall of the nave in 1897. It has also been said that the the masonry on the east wall and the dressings to the east windows were repaired in the same year, the woodblock flooring was inserted, the pews removed, the west gallery re-seated, the wainscotting around the walls lowered and the altar rails renewed.

Architecture

The church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a west tower, and a north annex which started as a schoolroom but was subsequently converted to a Lady Chapel, organ room, and vestry. The church is aligned east-north-east to west-south-west but for the purpose of description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here. The term schoolroom is also used for descriptive purposes though it no longer functions as such.

Fabric: 'A' is of red Llanfyllin brick with freestone dressings. 'B' is a slightly darker red brick with yellow brick dentilation. 'C' is of grey blocks of rubblestone, perhaps shale or dolerite.

'A' basically of 1706, 'B' of 1826 (and also for 20thC cloakroom extension), while 'C' was used at both dates.

Roofs: all slates, and plain, dark clay ridge tiles. Hipped roof to chancel, the others are gabled.

Drainage: 19thC downspouts, painted blue, lead to soakaways. Tarmac on south and west, and elsewhere no evidence of a trench.

Exterior

Tower. General. In 'A' with foundations in 'C'; a sandstone-capped plinth round the tower at a height of c.1.5m; clasping pilaster buttresses; two brick string courses separate the stages, including one above belfry level; a battlemented top stage; pinnacles at the corners.

North wall: round-headed ground floor window with brick voussoirs, boarded up; a slit window in upper wall face, and above it the round-headed louvred window to the bellchamber; also four slit windows to the tower stair at the extreme east end of the wall.

East wall: belfry window as north wall

South wall: round-headed windows with brick voussoir arches on ground and first floors; next a clock face, dating to 1864; belfry window as north wall.

West wall: entrance door approached by two steps, a segmental head turned in bricks; standard belfry window.

Nave and Chancel. General. Described here together as a continuous chamber with no external differentiation. Church is built on stone foundations ('C') though these are intermittently visible. Sandstone-capped plinth runs round the body of the church, as on the tower, at 1.5m. Windows have dressings all in pale sandstone. Crenellated wall tops with sandstone pinnacles at angles.

North wall: single round-headed window to west of vestry, moulded half-capitals, chamfered dressings with inverted broach stops, brick voussoirs for relieving arch immediately over the arch. East of schoolroom (vestry), a window was re-sited to the east at the time of the 1826 development and a modern fire door has been inserted beneath it. A second, similar window, lighting the chancel, lies immediately to the east. Both of similar form to that west of the vestry.

East wall: two round-headed windows, Norman-style, slightly recessed into the wall, spaced apart on the wall face; and the same as those in north wall; from c.1857. South wall: five round-headed windows, the single lights also round-headed with nailhead decoration on arches in Romanesque style, half-round shafts and capitals with projecting imposts. At the west end of the nave beyond the last of these main windows is a rectangular entrance doorway in stone with a pedimented head and moulded jambs; this houses a pair of painted, panelled doors approached by two steps; the old sandstone was removed in 1960 and a faithful reproduction inserted leaving the original inscription on the lintel below the pediment: 'Domus mea Domus Orationis'. A slab set in the wall above the doorway records 'Stephen Evans Oliver Buckley, church wardens, 1729'. A second doorway, this one blocked in brick, is set between the two easternmost windows; it has a similar pedimented head and moulded jambs in very worn sandstone; an inscription on the pediment originally read 'Soli Deo Gloria MDC'. It appears as 'Chancel door' on a 1720 plan of the church, and was probably blocked as part of 1857 renovations.

West wall: no features, though the wall is visible to either side of tower.

Vestry. General. An 1826 extension in 'B' to the north wall of church, originally built as a girls' schoolroom; the ground slopes away in this direction and the stone foundations (fabric 'C') to the walls are visible to a maximum height of 2.5m above ground level.

North, east and west walls: two round-headed Georgian windows to each face, wooden frames with intersecting tracery in the heads; a third window in the east wall has been bricked in. The north wall displays a central chimney breast between the two windows; and against the west wall is a later cloakroom extension. A boiler house was built in 1897, possibly the doorway set in the wall beneath the more northerly of the two windows on the west side leads to this.

Interior

Tower. General. Interior not accessible. It is reported that the ground floor is used for storage, the first floor is a ringing chamber and its west wall has a frame with ropes and ratchets for the Ellacombe chiming apparatus of the clock, fitted in 1906; the second floor has the clock fittings and carillon rope boxes; the third floor is the bell chamber.

Nave - General. Stone-flagged floors with raised woodblock flooring under the benches; one heating vent grille at the front. Walls plastered and painted pink, above the wainscotting which was derived from old box pews at the 1897 renovation; ceiling coved, plastered and painted in two colours. All windows have stained glass with the exception of those in the nave north wall.

North wall: a single window embrasure to the west of the double arcade leading to the Lady Chapel and organ chamber. Arcade has two round-headed arches, mouldings include bands of nailhead; a central circular pier with a crocket capital; and plain half capitals to the responds; hoodmould over both arches with a central head-stop. Beyond is a single window embrasure which was shortened to accommodate a fire door below in 1989. Marble memorial tablet of 1768 beneath the gallery and another of the 20thC to the east.

East wall: a large central chancel arch flanked by lower, narrower arches in Romanesque style with chevron and cable detail, and capitals with foliage and ferns - St Myllin traditionally came from Ferns in Ireland.

South wall: internal entrance porch at west end with a pair of oak panelled doors. Wall has four of the round-headed windows and a War Memorial tablet.

West wall: the 18thC west gallery with four rows of benches overhangs the nave and interior entrance porch. Dog-leg stairs to the gallery are located in the north-west corner. The gallery itself has a panelled front holding benefactions boards. Marble memorial tablet of 1769/1788 on the wall at the back of the gallery.

Chancel. General. In its present form it dates from the 1857 restoration. One step up from the nave and two to the altar. Floor of red and black tiles with some mosaic cubes; walls and ceiling as nave, although the sanctuary has panelled 18thC dark oak wainscotting similar to that in the nave, but brought from the Old Rectory when it was demolished in 1957.

North wall: a marble memorial tablet of 1918 to the east of the window.

East wall: two round-headed lights with stained glass of 1854 and 1857 on either side of the altar.

South wall: a marble memorial tablet of 1903/1923 to east of window.

Lady Capel/Vestry (Schoolroom). General. 1826 addition. For the Lady Chapel and the organ chamber the floors, walls and ceiling are as the nave. The vestry beyond has carpetted floors, walls plastered above wood panelling, and a plastered ceiling. There is also a central north fireplace and it is fitted with kitchen equipment.

Churchyard

There are traces of an earlier, sub-circular raised enclosure at Llanfyllin which was extended southwards with newly consecrated ground in 1842, 1863, 1877 and 1892, creating a more rectilinear enclosure. The current churchyard is very well maintained.

Boundaries: stone revetment walls form the boundaries on the north-west, north-east and south-west sides. The south-east side is not so steep around the perimeter because of the later extensions.

Monuments: there are few remaining marked graves. Slate slabs lean against the south boundary wall, and a single 19thC chest tomb remains close to the south-west corner of the church, two more on the west side of the vestry. No pre-19thC grave markers were observed. Considerable work was undertaken in 1965 on the enclosed churchyard including the removal of broken headstones, laying flat and re-siting some stones, and the removal of some kerbstones and iron rails around some graves. In 1972, the churchyard was nearly cleared of memorials. Burials now take place in the community graveyard.

Furniture: an 18thC sundial with baluster pillar stands on a circular base and square plinth with graduated steps beneath, outside the south door. The gnomon is no longer in situ. A wrought iron lampstand on an octagonal sandstone plinth is located outside the south door.

Earthworks: an early boundary bank, showing as a gentle scarp up to nearly 2m high is apparent around the southern and eastern sides of the church (see above). The level of the churchyard is raised, substantially above the grounds to the north-west and north-east, and by around 1m on the south-west.

Ancillary features: a half-timbered lychgate was erected on the west roadside entrance in 1925. A Field gate in the east corner. Tarmac paths, but steps into the churchyard from the church are formed of old gravestones.

Vegetation: several yew trees, the oldest of which are located on the south side on the edge of the old boundary scarp. Irish yews stand just within the western wall.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1993
CPAT Field Visit 9 November 1995 and 5 March 1998
Eisel 1986, 183
Faculty St. Asaph 1960 (NLW): doorway restoration
Haslam 1979, 131
Hogg 1870
NADFAS Survey 1995
NMR Aberystwyth
Parish Records in NLW 1706: plan of old church
Powys SMR
Ridgway 1997, 149
Thomas 1911, 230
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 Llanfyllin 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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