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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Tydecho , Cemmaes

Cemmaes Church is in the Diocese of Bangor, in the community of Glantwymyn in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SH8398106231.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 32576 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Cemmaes Church, CPAT copyright photo CS923624.JPG

Summary

St Tydecho's church in Cemmaes, some 6 miles to the north-east of Machynlleth, is a late medieval, single-chambered church with a western bellcote. The whole building was heavily restored in the 19thC and the interior in 1902. It retains its 15thC arch-braced roof, putative 15thC walls and a porch of the 18thC, but very few pre-19thC fittings. It is situated in a large churchyard on level ground on the south bank of the River Dovey.

A simple late medieval church, with 19thC square-headed windows set in the north and south walls. The south wall has been heightened at some stage leading to a degree of asymmetry, perhaps in the 18thC when there are indications of a round-headed window and door being inserted. The porch is probably dated by inscription of 1742, but the interior is largely the result of 1902 restoration work.

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

History

The dedication, location and churchyard morphology all point to an early medieval foundation.

The church is recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 under the diocese of St Asaph. As 'Kemeys' it was grouped with Llan(brynmair) at a combined value of 1 6s 8d. In 1291 Pope Nicholas' Taxation valued it individually at 4.

There were some 18thC modifications to the building - the south porch was built (or rebuilt in 1742), the gallery added (and this according to Lewis had 'fine carvings of flowers', presumably from the rood screen, for which see below), and perhaps at least one round-headed window inserted.

In 1856 Glynne noted that under the west gallery was part of the rood screen with a cornice of vine leaves.

The church was restored at some unknown date in the later 19thC, when the gallery of 1742 was removed, and further work, on the interior, took place in 1902.

Architecture

A single-chamber church with a bellcote rising above the west gable, a south porch and a north-east vestry. The church is aligned south-west to north-east but for the purpose of description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' is mainly small to medium sized blocks and slabs of grey and light brown sandstone and shale together with pebblestones; irregular coursing. Fabric 'B' is more homogeneous in appearance with dark sandstone blocks and some pebblestones; irregular coursing. Fabric 'C' is of quarry-cut sedimentary rock, appearing in the south porch and the blocked north door. Fabric 'D' is of thin slabs of slate, quite well laid and partially coursed. Fabric 'E' consists of large, square blocks of stone, with some coursing.

Fabric 'A' is visible in the north, east and south walls with irregular pointing and may date to the 15thC, 'B' to the 19thC rebuilding, 'C' is used in the south porch and the lychgate and may be 18thC. 'D' and 'E' are of uncertain date.

Roofs: slate with black ceramic ridge tiles. Stone cross finial at east end.

Drainage: north and south wall guttering leads to soakaways. A drainage trench is visible along the east wall and part of the south wall.

Exterior

Nave and chancel. General. No external differentiation between the two elements. The roof slopes lower on the north side, this being visible more readily at the east gable than the west.

North wall: in fabric 'A'. At the west end the jambs (in long and short work) and a lintel stone of a blocked square-headed doorway, c.1m wide. The blocking of the door is in 'A', the stonework of the door itself can be classed as 'C'. This doorway may have been inserted in the 18thC when the west gallery was added. Then two inserted 19thC lancet windows in buff yellow freestone, and fabric 'B' patching around the apertures. Three metres to the east of the first of these is a butt joint, but the presence of brick in the build of the wall and the chimney sprouting from the roof above indicate that this is a late feature. Below the easternmost lancet is a subterranean boiler house, its concrete-capped roof about 0.3m above the present ground level. Immediately adjacent is the vestry and beyond this at the north-east corner Fabric 'A' has been replaced by 'D'.

East wall: in fabric 'A'. Asymmetric gable end is obvious, the north wall c.1m lower than its southern counterpart. (The reason for this becomes obvious internally where it is clear that the south wall has been heightened - see section on the nave roof). The north-east corner including the quoins is in 'D' and at foundation level is a projecting course of large stones, which continue only for a short distance southwards. The south-east angle and its quoins also appear to be in 'D'. An inserted 19thC two-centred window with three trefoil-headed lights and two quatrefoils above. Two rows of yellow brick headers arch over the window top as a sort of relieving arch.

South wall: in fabric 'A' with 'B' patching around the three inserted lancet windows to the east of the porch. At a height of around 3m the wall is inset and the remaining 1.2m to the eaves is of a later build (though in 'A'-like material), conceivably at the time the round-headed window was inserted (see below). At the east end some 'D', perhaps mixed with re-used 'A' masonry. The central lancet appears to have replaced an earlier round-headed window set directly below the eaves, for the stone voussoired arch of the earlier window is still visible above the lancet, though it is a puzzle as to why only one such blocked 18thC window is visible along this wall. Above the west side of the porch roof is a blocked square aperture which presumably lit the gallery.

West wall: cement render on the wall face above a basal plinth which shows two courses of heavily mortared blocks about 0.5m high and 0.35m wide in fabric 'A', and clearly integral with the wall itself. West window in 19thC yellow sandstone, with a pointed arch over two cinquefoil-headed lights and a quatrefoil above. The gable has renewed slate coping stones and rises to the bellcote constructed in material equivalent to fabric 'B'. The single bell hangs beneath a two-centred arch, and the straight-sided turret has a gabled head surmounted by a wrought iron weathervane.

Vestry. General. Adjoins the north wall of the chancel and appears to have been built in three stages, in fabric 'B', so all 19thC or later. A small stone-built cell was extended to the west in stone, leaving the quoins of the earliest cell immured. Finally there was a further extension to the west in red brick, perhaps for storage. Modern door in square-headed aperture in north wall together with two wide lancets. And in the west wall a wooden door with a concrete lintel over.

South Porch. General. The open porch appears to be faced in fabric 'C', and a date of 1742 inside (see below) presumably refers to this build. The south wall has a round-headed entrance arch of voussoirs, now fitted with a pair of modern wrought iron gates. No apertures in the east and west walls which are in 'E'.

Interior

Porch. General. One step down from the exterior. A 19thC red and black tiled floor; interior walls plastered and painted; ceiling plastered above exposed rafters and chamfered purlins, but above the nave door is a tie beam with queen post truss on which is engraved '1742. V.I.'.

North wall: the south doorway to the nave may originally have had a two-centred arch but it is now flat-topped. There are no chamfers on the dressings

East and west wall: wooden planked benches on stone plinths.

Nave. General. A product of the 1902 restoration work. Tiled floors are completely carpetted, and raised planked flooring under two rows of box pews; also a raised planked floor to a baptistry at the west end. Walls plastered and painted, and the window embrasures have internal dressings with chamfers that terminate with pyramid stops at the top. 15thC roof with seven arch-braced collar trusses forming eight bays over the nave and chancel, and the three most easterly trusses have large cusping above the collars, with raking struts springing from the collars. On the north side, the trusses spring from the wall top, and the principals are flush with the ceiling behind (though there is a slight gap in the chancel). On the south side, however, the trusses emerge from the wall which then rises for a further 0.6m, leaving a large gap between the principals and the ceiling. Subsidiary principals have been inserted to support the roof, clear evidence of the heightening of the wall on the south.

North wall: deeply splayed windows with diamond-leaded lights. A sawn-off beam, c.0.15m square and now painted over, is a remnant of the gallery support at the west end. At the east end a brass of 1773 and a wall tablet of 1813.

South wall: splayed window apertures; the more easterly lancet has modern stained glass. Panelled entrance doors in a square-headed aperture. One wall monument of 1729.

West wall: west window has modern stained glass.

Chancel. General. One step up from the nave, and one step up to the sanctuary. Floor, wall and roof details as the nave.

North wall: organ set in a recess which is open to the vestry. Two-centred vestry doorway east of the organ. One 19thC marble memorial and brass and wooden plaques of the 20thC.

East wall: stained glass window above the altar. Band of carved vine leaf cornice from the medieval rood screen set along the sill of the window.

South wall: wall monuments of 1744 and 1878.

Vestry. General. Wooden planked floor, plastered walls and ceiling sloping to north.

Churchyard

A large semi-circular churchyard sited on level ground, against the lip of the Dovey valley. Probably some encroachment by buildings at west corner, but otherwise largely unchanged since medieval (?and earlier) times.

Boundary: a stone wall on all sides, except on the north where there is a high scarp, representing the river terrace of the River Dovey, with a wall at its base.

Monuments: fairly even distribution of marked graves on south, east and west sides; no burials on the north side of the nave and burials to north of the vestry are grassed over. Mainly slate slabs of 19thC date, but there are also a number of 18thC chest tombs. Also a slab of 1758 near the west wall, one of 1720 by the south-east corner of the church, a low chest tomb with extra large lettering on its slate top but no date, and a fine table tomb with moulded legs and inscriptions on the side to John and Catherine Carr (d.1705 and 1731) to the east of the chancel.

Furniture: Sundial located to south of porch - a slim chamfered sandstone plinth with a plate inscribed 'James Evans, Salop' on a wooden base.

In front of the 1720 grave is an embedded boulder with a small hole through it. The hole is smooth and the stone may have been associated with some sort of medieval game.

Earthworks: the churchyard has slight internal banking on the south side. Generally it is raised only a little: perhaps 0.5m on the east and less than this further round to the south.

Ancillary features: main entrance to south of church through a stone lychgate, dating to the 19thC restoration; tarmac path leads up to south porch.

Vegetation: four older yews located off the south side of the church; three younger yews along the south wall. The yew near the lychgate has the greatest girth.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 23 May 1996 and 22 September 1998
Crossley and Ridgway 1947, 184
Eisel 1986, 176
Haslam 1979, 92
Lewis 1833
Lunt 1926, 471
NMR Aberystwyth
Parish Records, Bangor Diocese 1909: B/F/103 (NLW)
Powys SMR
Quinquennial Reports 1988 and 1993
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 Cemmaes 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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