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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael and All Angels , Clyro

Clyro Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Clyro in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO2133643835.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16750 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Clyro Church, CPAT copyright photo 1035-18.JPG

Summary

St Michael's church lies in the village of Clyro about 2km from Hay-on-Wye. The church with its north aisle, nave and chancel is wholly Victorian - only the lower stages of the west tower are late medieval. Internally there is little of pre-19thC date, and the polygonal churchyard contains some 18thC monuments though many are in poor condition.

Bottom stage of tower thought to be early 15thC on basis of west window and doorway from nave; a second stage is undated and might represent a rebuild; the third stage is presumably Victorian.

Rest of building is Victorian though some of the chancel may incorporate re-used masonry.

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

History

Of the origins and history of Clyro church little is known. It does not feature in the 13thC Taxatios but is recorded in the Valor Ecclesiasticus as 'Clyre' at a value of 13 6s 8d.

In 1818 Williams recorded that the church that preceded the present one, consisted of a nave, chancel, tower and porch. The nave and chancel were separated by a partition of timber work under a pointed stone arch. The tower contained five bells and had "three ranges of lights of the lancet form in each range". The lavacrum was placed on the right hand side immediately after entering from the porch into the church. The east window contained "three lights divided by stone mullions supporting trefoil arches, and [was] also separated by an ornamental stone transom, sustaining two lights in the head of the arch under trefoil arches". The tower apart nothing of this architectural detail now survives.

The church was re-built by T. Nicholson in 1853 in the Decorated style, and in 1870 Glynne reported that the tower had a saddle roof. The bells were re-cast and re-hung in 1887.

Kilvert was curate here from 1865 to 1872.

Architecture

Clyro church consists of a nave and chancel, a north aisle the same length as the nave, a west tower, and a south porch and north vestry. The tower apart, the whole structure was rebuilt in the mid-19thC. It is oriented north-east/south-west, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of slabs and blocks of grey-brown laminated sandstone, of all sizes; some coursing. 'B' is of more regularly shaped and laid masonry than 'A', grey in colour; quoins of more regularly dressed blocks of stone. 'C' is similar to 'A' but there is a greater predominance of brown stone over grey, there are fewer flat slabs, and the coursing is less regular. 'D' is of regular blocks and slabs of grey and brown sandstone with some coursing, similar to 'B' except for the colour. Dressings of yellow sandstone.

Roofs: reconstituted clay tiles, ribbed ridge tiles; stone cross finials to nave (broken), chancel and porch. Tower has weathercock.

Drainage: narrow (<0.3m) drainage gully along north wall of aisle, and there is possibly an overgrown gully on the south side of the nave and chancel. Concrete slabs along the east side effectively disguises any drainage.

Exterior

Note: only the tower predates the 19thC and as a consequence this is the only part of the structure that is considered in any detail.

Tower. General. Battered base to height of <1m, topped by a moulded string course. The batter and the stage above it are in 'A'. Half way up this first stage is a fabric change with 'A' giving way to 'C' (visible on all sides except the east). Two-thirds of the way up the tower is an angular string course, and above this (and for a short distance below it) the fabric is 'B'. A similar but more complex moulded string course is set at the bottom of the battlemented parapet. Lower part is medieval, central part is undated, the top is Victorian.

North wall: fabric 'B' discernible at least 0.5m below the second string course. Below this and running down the centre of the wall face through the zone of Fabric 'C' is a disconformity in the fabric indicating a rebuild in 'B' and also re-used 'A', down to and including the main window which was put in place when the tower was heightened. First stage has a single lancet window, overgrown with ivy, and its authenticity thus difficult to determine. Above this at a height of c.5m is the broad rectangular slit with chamfered dressings referred to above as the main window. In line with the top of this window 'A' gives way to 'C'.

East wall: nave roof rises to 2m below the second string-course. Above this is a single louvred light in yellow sandstone with cusped tracery and a relieving arch, illuminating the belfry.

South wall: the lowest string course is broken by a doorway with a shouldered arch all in yellow sandstone. Above this is the same sort of broad slit window as on the north side; it has a long lintel stone projecting well beyond the chamfered jambs and the arrises are sharp suggesting that they may not be original. Above this and below the second string course is a clock face with a hoodmould over it. 'B' masonry reaches down to this, but elsewhere on the wall face is about 0.5m below the string course. The belfry window is the same as on the east wall but in red sandstone.

West wall: a two-centred arched window with trefoil tracery in an ogee head is set at a height of c.2m; it is not clear how much of this is original, but perhaps not much. Then a standard broad slit, and above this on a level with the clock a louvred rectangular window, much of it original. Finally, the belfry stage window mirrors that on the east side.

North aisle. General. Fabric 'D'. Chamfered plinth round this and all other cells of the Victorian structure; diagonal buttresses. West window with three lights and reticulated tracery, a two-centred arch, hoodmould and relieving arch. North wall has four two-light windows with ogee-headed lights, some reticulated tracery and hoodmoulds. East window is a bigger example of the same.

Nave. General. Three south windows as north aisle; angle buttresses.

Chancel. General. Much of the masonry is rougher than 'D' and is perhaps re-used from the earlier church. Double chamfers. Two windows in south wall with two-centred arches, cusped tracery under ogee heads. Simple priest's door with four steps up to it. North wall blocked by vestry.

Porch. General. Diagonal buttresses. Big two-centred arched doorway.

Interior

Porch. General. Flagged floor; plastered walls; rafter and collar roof.

Tower. General. Flagged floor, bare walls, plastered ceiling. South wall has large door embrasure; north and west walls have wide splayed windows.

Nave. General. Tiled floor with heating grilles, and pews on raised wooden boarding; plastered and whitewashed walls; roof of rafters and collars. North wall consists of arcade of four bays with octagonal piers and moulded capitals. East wall with tall pointed arch and painted inscription around it. South wall has one 20thC marble mural tablet. West wall has small ogee-headed doorway to tower, and a window at a higher level.

North aisle. General. Floor, walls and roof as nave. West end panelled off for vestry. North wall has one 19thC marble mural tablet, east wall has three, and in the vestry the south wall has three including one of 1776.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel from nave, one to sanctuary, one to altar. Tiled floor. Walls plastered and newly painted. Roof as nave. Medieval piscina is sole survivor of earlier church.

Churchyard

Clyro churchyard is polygonal in shape, rectilinear rather than curvilinear. It is level, situated on the valley floor immediately beside Clyro Brook, but there is a slight internal drop because the church itself sits on a low platform.

It is well maintained on the west and north-west where there are recent burials, but to the south of the church the area of older burials has been left to the spreading vegetation.

Boundary: a mortared stone wall bounds the churchyard on all sides but the north. There, it is replaced by a rubble bank with trees. There is a drop to the stream on the north, but also an alteration in height around the south and east sides where the external ground level is between 0.5m-1.0m lower than internally.

Monuments: most of the churchyard is used, with modern burials on the north-west and only peripheral areas around the eastern boundary lacking obvious burials. South and east of the church are the older memorials but many of these are badly weathered, and the earliest that was recognised - of 1751 - may not be the earliest within the yard, for Howse recorded a gravestone of 1662.

Furniture: 30m south-east of the porch is a sundial set on a square pillar with a moulded head. The copper plate complete with gnomon is signed by Adams of London but there is no date.

Earthworks: platform defined by a scarp shows around the east side of the chancel.

Ancillary features: main entrance on the east under a stone and timber lychgate with double wooden gates, and a single wooden gate outside. A wooden 'farm gate' and a kissing gate in the north-west corner, and double iron gates at the south-west corner offer other entrances, all served by tarmac paths.

Vegetation: an avenue of yews, some mature, runs to the lychgate, and there are other trees including pines to the east and north-east of the church.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1995
CPAT Field Visit: 6 June 1996
Davies 1905, 249
Glynne 1897, 53
Haslam 1979, 226
Howse, 1949, 243
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 Clyro 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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