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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael and All Angels , Cascob

Cascob Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Whitton in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO2390166404.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16700 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Cascob Church, CPAT copyright photo 370-01.JPG

Summary

St Michael's Church set in a D-shaped yard occupies a spur between converging valleys. It lies in the hills south of the Lugg valley, several miles west of Presteigne. There is little to suggest an early medieval origin, and the present building has few diagnostic features, though a 13thC date has been postulated.

Little exists to date building, although chancel windows may indicate a 13thC date. 15thC work includes south nave window (re-set) and nave roof, and probably the porch.

Thick walls show evidence of rebuilding, particularly on south side of nave, east end of chancel, and perhaps on north side where interrupted batter.

Upper part of tower rebuilt if mound around it and blocked south window are reliable guides. Original tower could be as early as 14thC.

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

History

Little is known of its early history and no record appears in the 13thC taxation records, though it does appear as 'Cascoppe' in 1535.

The earliest known incumbent was the Rev. Charles Lloyd, M.A., resident in 1678.

Church was almost a ruin in 1877, but was rebuilt in 1895.

Architecture

Cascob church is of simple design, consisting of nave, chancel, west tower and south porch. Its orientation is fractionally north of east.

Fabrics: 'A' is of roughly coursed shale slabs, originally brown in colour but weathering to grey. 'B' less well coursed than 'A', with more lumps of shale amongst the slabs, and some variation in uniformity of slabs. In nave, coarse buff-coloured mortar used for both fabrics. 'C' is distinctive with well-coursed tabular shale and perhaps siltstone.

Roofs: shale tiles on body of church and lower stage of bell-turret; slates on upper stage of bell-turret.

Drainage: no obvious signs of artificial drainage cuts.

Exterior

Tower. General. Broad, low tower with masonry of Fabric 'C'. Enveloped by sizeable mound on north, west and south sides, in past considered to be prehistoric burial mound, but more likely associated with construction/reconstruction of tower (as at Bleddfa). Less pronounced on south than on north side.

Tower surmounted by two-stage bell-turret. Lower stage consisting of sloping roof only on north and south sides. Above this, half-timbered bell chamber with pyramidal roof capped by weathercock and vane. Two rectangular louvred windows in each side except north.

North wall: wall stepped in, just above level of mound. Above one small rectangular light, with large shale slabs for lintel and sill but no dressings. Above light is butt end of internal wooden beam.

East wall: bell chamber only visible.

South wall: wall step comparable with that on north visible for about two metres of its length; small, unglazed rectangular light just above the step, set a little to east of centre.

West wall: plain; step not in evidence but may be hidden by mound spoil; differential lichen patterning higher up, and bell-turret continues vertical face of wall.

Nave. General. Render and limewash still in patches on north.

North wall: has a slightly irregular line and elevation with some bowing. Basically Fabric 'A' though occasional shale lumps visible. At west end, wall face, less than one metre below eaves, is inset for more than 4m - not limewashed and probably indicates recent rebuild. Single small lancet window with a vaguely rounded head and jambs of shale slabs, undifferentiated from wall masonry.

East wall: little visible, projecting no more than 0.5m above chancel level, and faced with timber studs and plaster.

South wall: Fabrics 'A' and 'B' both present; south-east corner in 'A' with foundation course of large blocks; but most of wall east of porch in 'B', its face set back from the 'A' face by perhaps 0.1m. One three-light, square-headed window of late 15thC date in pink sandstone, the lights with trefoil heads, chamfered jambs and mullions, and hint of further tracery above lights; much weathered and one mullion and some jamb stones replaced. Hinges high up on jambs suggest former presence of shutters. Window clearly re-set: eaves drop down over top of window, the roof timber terminals almost resting on the lintel of window; and as a finale the tracery above lights looks to have been truncated to fit wall height. Wall plain to west of porch, 'A' below, 'B' inset above.

West wall: not present.

Chancel. General. Slightly narrower than nave. All external wall faces lean inwards. Windows perhaps 13thC. Vegetation obscures parts of north and east walls.

North wall: largely Fabric 'A' with limewash traces. One rectangular window with chamfered dressings, grooved for shutter, and presumably post-medieval in origin. Just above it a 1.2m-long slab could be re-used sill or the like.

East wall: Fabric 'A' with no real quoinwork. One double-lancet window in weathered yellow sandstone, the mullion replaced, the other dressings of small chamfered blocks with the heads turned in stones set on edge. Above eaves level a string course runs across wall face and above this some wall rebuilding at interface with roof.

South wall: all Fabric 'A', but upper half looks fresher, though also traces of limewash remain. Window similar to that in east wall: two lancets with four-centred heads, chamfered jambs and mullion; the mullion replaced in pink sandstone and the jambs and heads in yellow sandstone could conceivably also be replacements.

Porch. General. Fabric 'A'.

East wall: plain, formerly plastered.

South wall: half-timbered gable supported on broad, solid wall ends; some timber replacement. Small double wooden gates into porch.

West wall: plain; wall face bulges; possibly some rebuilding?

Interior

Porch. General. Roof has replaced end trusses but original central truss with collar and struts; also original purlins but renewed rafters. Tiled floor but flag stone in front of nave doorway. Except on south, walls plastered and whitewashed.

North wall: broad unchamfered doorway with Tudor arch and deep reveal; modern wooden door; adjacent is building society plaque recording donation of 25 in 1878.

East wall: stone bench with slate seat; near north-east corner a stoup crudely fashioned from block of sandstone, set into wall and resting on seat; above the stoup is an alcove.

West wall: as east wall.

Tower. General. Packed earth floor. Not ceiled but open to timber-framed bell-stage; walls unplastered. Early 14thC?

North wall: deeply splayed window, the base of splay stepped down.

East wall: tower archway has triangular head, and within the reveal a wooden frame of re-used timbers. Wall face stepped in at first-floor level. In south-east angle, tower stair with simple doorway set in wall built diagonally across angle. South wall: blocked window embrasure, the west side only visible, the east side perhaps obscured by diagonal stair wall.

West wall: plain but for timber sockets at first-floor level; face does not appear to be bonded to north and south walls but butts against them.

Nave. General. Floor at rear of nave consists of stone flags, but aisle etc is tiled with matting over. Benches and enclosed vestry (partitioned off at west end) set on raised wooden boards. Heavily restored 15thC roof with chamfered arch braces and cusped struts above the collars, and three tiers of cusped windbraces. Walls plastered and whitewashed.

North wall: thick wall but unlike south wall no internal batter, except at west end; one splayed window. One 20thC mural tablet.

South wall: internal batter, most noticeably towards west end where it corresponds with change to Fabric 'A' externally. Deeply splayed main window, all the stonework whitewashed except the sill. One mural tablet of 1808.

West wall: uneven wall face; two steps up to triangular headed doorway which looks relatively modern.

Chancel. General. Chancel on same level as nave, but one step up to sanctuary. Tiled floors covered by matting and boards beneath stalls; Victorian encaustic tiles in sanctuary, edged by flagstones, one a tomb slate with an uninscribed brass plate. Arch-braced roof of 1895, the wall plate partially replaced in concrete. Walls plastered and whitewashed.

North wall: one deeply splayed window; two 19thC mural tablets.

East wall: splayed east window; wall inset above eaves level, probably equivalent of external string course and indicative of rebuilding.

South wall: single splayed window; rectangular piscina with triangular-headed aumbry above it; two mural tablets, one 19thC, the other 20thC.

Churchyard

Cascob churchyard is of medium size and D-shaped, but lacking convincing signs of curvilinearity (pace Haslam), except perhaps on north. Its southern edge runs along the lip of a sharp-sided valley carrying a small stream, and a converging tributary valley on the north creates a spur-like location with a gentle west to east dip manifesting itself in the churchyard. A tarmac lane edges churchyard on north side and there are traces of a green 'way' below the southern perimeter.

Churchyard is not well-maintained. It is grazed by sheep, but vegetation has got out of hand in several places.

Boundary consists of stone revetment wall on north side with internally an earthen bank of variable height (0.2-1.0m); indications of inner face to wall near north-west angle. Hedge on top. Same elements continue along western side where little variation in height between external and internal levels. On south, above valley, a revetment wall, with drop to stream beyond. In the south-east corner, adjacent to school, the boundary is heavily overgrown and a new stockproof fence has been erected.

Monuments: generally dense on south and south-east sides of church, but no graves visible to north; earliest stones identified: to John Stephens (d.1735) and Ann Lewis (d.1742); yard contains a number of low chest tombs with rubble bases and slab tops, some collapsing. 19thC tombs and most recent burial from 1987.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: i) substantial mound up to 1.8m high around tower, presumed to be the collapsed material of an earlier tower as at Bleddfa; ii) 20m south of porch is a one metre-high mound, some 11m in diameter. Material in its make-up suggests debris from a previous restoration.

Ancillary Features: main entrance on east consists of double wooden gates with a grass path leading to the porch. Subsidiary gate and path from west shown on early Ordnance Survey maps have fallen out of use.

Vegetation: one great yew tree to south-west of tower. Otherwise a range of trees and bushes within churchyard including conifers, apple, rhododendron and hazel.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings: 1992
CPAT Field Visit: 11 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 223
Davies 1905, 170
Haslam 1979, 224
Howse, 1949, 252
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 Cascob Church may also be found on the Swansea and Brecon Diocese website.


The CPAT Radnorshire 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 ( 22:02:45 ).
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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