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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Bettws Disserth

Bettws Disserth Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Glascwm in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1162256934.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16712 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.


St Mary's church is a small Victorian structure set on the western edge of the Edw Valley about 8km north-east of Builth Wells. It has nothing of pre-19thC significance other than a Perpendicular font and a number of 18thC memorials and a brass from the same century. The churchyard is largely empty.

A wholly Victorian building.

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


Nothing is recorded of the early history of Bettws Disserth and no early references have been noted.

The present building was erected in 1883 by J. B. Fowler of Brecon, though Davies put a date of 1872 on the event. Of its predecessor nothing is known.


St Mary's church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a north porch and a south vestry. The church is aligned on a north-east/south-west axis, but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' is of regular blocks with some slabs of sandstone, grey to buff in colour and randomly coursed. 'B' consists of iron-stained blocks of fine grained sedimentary rock, with some coursing.

Roofs: slates, ceramic ridge tiles which are of ornamented type over chancel but not nave; sockets for finials over both ends of chancel. Bell turret containing one bell, of brick and stone, the former for dressings and quoins.

Drainage: evidence of infilled trench on north side of nave and on east side of chancel but not elsewhere.


Nave. General. Most of north wall in 'A', but in 'B' from springer level on windows; all of south wall and perhaps west wall beneath its rough coat of render in 'A'. Windows are simple lancets in brick with stone sills; three on each side. West wall has two long lancets. Buttress with splayed base and brick facing marks nave/chancel divide on north wall. Four 19thC mural slabs lean against west wall.

Chancel. General. Base of north and south walls splayed to c.1.0m and topped by a decorative band of stone that is carried round buttress on north but not around vestry on south. North wall has 'A' below and 'B' above as nave, but only 'A' on east and south; dressed stone quoins at angles. Windows as nave - two on north, one on south - but east window has three stepped lancets in brick with brick relieving arch over.

Porch. General. Walls battered at base; simple entrance with arched-braced collar truss for gable. Plaque recording Inclosure of Bettws Disserth Common in 1885 on east wall.


Porch. General. An open porch.

Nave. General. Tiled floor with some matting over, and flush plank flooring beneath the benches. The walls plastered and painted green, though the brick dressings to the windows, door and embrasures left bare. Roof of three bays with three braced collar trusses and over the nave/chancel divided two arch-braced collar trusses about 0.4m apart forming a sort of double 'arch'.

North wall: only the window and north doorway embrasures.

East wall: two steps up to the chancel.

South wall: window embrasures and, at the west end, two stone memorials one of the 18thC and one of the 19thC, screwed to the wall.

West end: two window embrasures and eight stone and marble memorials inducting two of 1723 and 1750, and one brass of 1782.

Chancel. General. Floor and walls as nave, with one step up to the sanctuary. Roof of two bays with two braced collar trusses similar to those in the nave.

East wall: wooden reredos with painted panels.

South wall: ogee-headed lintel to the vestry, and brick jambs which are chamfered with broach stops.

Vestry. General. Not accessible.


Churchyard is a small sub-rectangular enclosure with a curving northern side. It lies on the western edge of the Edw valley with an immediate drop to the valley floor beneath. The interior is almost flat - there is a slight slope from south to north.

It is well-maintained and is used for modern burials though these are few.

Stone walls form the boundary only by the main gate. On the south is a hedge with minor internal banking and perhaps an external ground level that is fractionally lower. Above the river there is a post and wire fence; and on the north, the hedge incorporates at one point the wall of a small ruined building, and a shallow ditch is visible outside. Around the west side the external ground level appears to be about 0.5m below the churchyard level.

Monuments: a few are set in the south-east corner, two from the very end of the 18thC; and a small group of more recent memorials lie to the north of the path leading to the porch.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: possibly an earthwork across extreme south-west corner could represent an earlier bank, but equally this could be dumped material.

Ancillary features: double iron gates near west corner with tarmac path to porch.

Vegetation: one yew tree of no great age on north side of church; conifers along south and west perimeter.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 5 March 1996 and 1 February 1999
Davies 1905, 316
Haslam 1979, 221
Howse, 1949, 257
Howse 1952, 9

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 Bettws Disserth 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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