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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Abbeycwmhir

Abbeycwmhir Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Abbey Cwmhir in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0539671310. At one time it may have been dedicated to St Bridget.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16703 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.


St Mary's church lies on north side of valley carrying the Clywedog Brook, some 10km to the north of Llandrindod Wells. Originally built in 1680 it was completely replaced by a Victorian structure in 1865/66. It contains little of pre-19thC date other than a medieval grave slab.

The whole structure dates from 1865/66.

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


Founded in 1680, and seemingly then dedicated to St Bridget, one of the rare post-medieval, pre-19thC establishments in region. Williams (in 1818) records a tradition that the monks of Cwmhir Abbey had a fish pond at the spot. The abbey itself may have been extensively quarried to provide materials for the new church.

Until 1831 the church was a chapelry in Llanbister.

Rebuilt by Poundley & Walker in 1866, on a site a little to north of old church; most of the 17thC fittings replaced by Victorian equivalents.


The church consists of nave, chancel with a polygonal apse, and an intriguing south-west tower over the porch, together with organ chamber and vestry rooms added on to north side. The building has a south-west/north-east orientation, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabric: grey sedimentary stone in rough-textured blocks, randomly coursed. Two horizontal courses of red sandstone, largely decorative, and the same also used for decorative purposes over window arches.

Roofs: not recorded.

Drainage: downpipes but no obvious drainage trench around exterior of building.


Wholly Victorian. Chancel slightly narrower than nave.

Windows are neo-Gothic with two-centred arched lights and variably foiled lights above. Buttresses at west and east ends of nave.

Elaborate tower with octagonal spirelet.

Over porch doorway is a relief of the Ascension copied from tympanum in the abbey, the broken original at nearby Home Farm.


Wholly Victorian. Tiled floor with carpet down centre, covering heating vents (sub-surface boiler room entered from north side). Benches raised on wooden boards. Roof in nave of four bays with large scissor trusses. Walls plastered and whitewashed.

Chancel and sanctuary have more decorative tiling. Angular ceiled roof with ribbed panels. Chancel arch ornately carved.


Abbeycwmhir churchyard occupies the bottom of a small valley as it debouches into the broader valley of the Clywedog Brook. The yard encloses the stream on the east, the valley side on the west, and yard itself rises gradually from south to north. As such it is an irregular shape moulded by the topography.

Generally it is well maintained, except for the western valley side, and is used for modern burials.

The boundary takes a varied form: wire fence on north-east reinforced by a hedge and then a drystone wall further north; a modern mortared wall on the north-west; a wire fence on the west; a mortared stone wall surmounted by metal railings on the south, and on the east sparse vegetation and a fence.

Monuments: north side of churchyard used during 19thC and 20thC, but gravestones well spread. To south they are denser and some go back into last quarter of 18thC, though weather conditions prevented a thorough examination. Earliest seen: 1777. At least three cast iron grave markers.

Furniture: none seen.

Earthworks: ground platformed to take church, so scarp bank to 0.5m on south. Otherwise nothing of significance. No ground traces of 17thC church.

Ancillary features: lychgate on south, stone with timber superstructure, built 1900, leading by tarmac path to porch. On south-east, a stone bridge gives access from The Hall. Near north-east corner is a battered metal gate giving access to burial ground.

Vegetation: a couple of immature yews on north and two more on south. Mixed trees and vegetation on slope to west.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1985
CPAT Field Visit: 02 February 1996
Davies, 1905, 268
Haslam 1979, 215
Howse, 1949, 252
Maddox 1975: Church Guide

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 Abbeycwmhir 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 -, website -

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