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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St David , Glascwm

Glascwm 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 SO1559553153.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16782 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Glascwm Church, CPAT copyright photo CS953935.JPG

Summary

Architecturally a finer and larger church than its neighbours according to Haslam, St David's lies on south side of the Clas Brook in central Radnorshire. The church itself reveals two medieval phases and was partially rebuilt at the end of the 19thC. It occupies a large sub-circular churchyard and almost certainly originated as a mother church in the early medieval period.

Ashlar quoinwork at nave/chancel join suggests that the two elements are not contemporary. On basis of windows and doors, nave is 13thC, chancel being added in 15thC and quoins included for strength. Fabrics of nave and chancel show some difference.

Much of north side of church rebuilt in Victorian period, but less rebuilding of east, south and west sides. Victorian windows with cinquefoil tracery in nave and east wall of chancel imitate Perpendicular style elsewhere in chancel. Some original windows re-set. Porch rebuilt.

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

History

The name reveals that it functioned as a clas church, probably in the earlier medieval period, and it has been claimed as a Dewi foundation. Davies (1905) records that the chapelries of Colva and Rhulen were annexed, presumably at an early date.

The 1291 Taxatio refers to 'Ecclesia de Glascom' and records the relatively high value of 13 6s 8d.

In 1870 Glynne noted some ornamental panelling at the east end of the nave, marking the location of the rood loft which appears to have been destroyed in the early 19thC. There were some good Perpendicular windows, the chancel roof was coved with ribs and bosses and the east window was closed. The porch at the time was large with square-headed trefoiled windows.

It was restored in 1891, at which time oak choir stalls were added and the church re-floored to install hot air heating system.

Architecture

Church consists of nave and chancel roofed in one, a south porch and a shingled belfry rising through the roof at the west end of nave. Church is aligned north-east/south-west but for purposes of this record 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabrics: 'A' small to medium-sized tabular shale, reasonably homogeneous and well coursed. 'B' is similar but stone is less weathered and complemented by red sandstone dressings for quoins and string-courses. 'C' consists of regular smooth-faced shale blocks. 'D' is similar to 'A' but cleaner, unweathered shale faces, perhaps including some re-used stone, and often well-pointed. 'E' consists of large blocks of weathered shale.

Fabrics 'A' and 'E' represent original masonry, 'B', 'C' and 'D' are replacements.

Roofs: slates.

Drainage: a concrete drain or trench cover surrounds whole building.

Exterior

Nave. General. At base of wall, a chamfered plinth of poorer quality, with projecting masonry, than that round chancel. Window and west door suggest 13thC/14thC date.

North wall: base of wall and north-west angle in Fabric 'E', while most of wall in 'D'; in addition at east end of nave, 'E' appears to rise almost to full height of wall, but picture is confused by presence of chancel buttress. Windows in north wall from west are: i) a two-light window with two-centred arch; ii) a three-light window under two-centred arch; iii) a slit window high up near east end of nave wall; iv) lower and to west, one small lancet with chamfered dressings; the last two windows were designed to light rood stair. First three all Victorian, the fourth is original, but re-set and some of its grey and purple sandstone jamb stones replaced.

East wall: none.

South wall: this wall together with its continuation as chancel wall is slightly bowed. Lower part of wall to variable height in Fabric 'A', upper part in Fabric 'D'; extreme south-west angle in 'E', with rough quoinwork. West of porch one single-light Victorian window; then porch, with 'shadow' on main wall of larger porch? Finally, a two-light Victorian window with mural tablet of 1827 pinned below it. Timber wall-plate runs for most of nave length but stops short of chancel wall.

West wall: in Fabric 'E' but some patching with tabular shale around window and to north of it. Rough quoinwork at angles. At ground level a two-centred arched doorway, the jambs renewed for bottom 1.3m in largely unweathered buff sandstone with stopped chamfers, the upper parts in weathered purple sandstone without chamfers (cf lancet in north wall for colour). Above is a three-light window in red sandstone, inserted in Victorian period.

Belfry: pyramid roof with weather vane and cock above. All four sides are slate hung with vertical planking on either side of double louvred windows with cinquefoil heads, all in wood.

Chancel. General. At base of wall is a plinth, partly in red sandstone, which continues round buttresses and is of no great age. At 0.6m is string-course, medieval, and in buff-grey sandstone except where renewed in red sandstone. Stepped buttresses in Fabric 'B'. A 15thC addition to building revealed by three fine Perpendicular windows with ogee and panel tracery.

North wall: lower part of wall in Fabric A, but this is of variable height and rises also to eaves level at north-east corner and half way up wall near join with nave. Rest of wall is in 'D', except for two, stepped buttresses, and a third diagonal buttress at north-east angle, all in Fabric B. Possibly some patching to wall in 'B', adjacent to most westerly buttress. End of chancel above buttress marked by red sandstone quoins (replacing earlier ones; cf south wall); and in line with these and rising from roof is a chimney incorporating some brick and having ugly concrete cowl. A single, ogee-headed, three-light Perpendicular window under two-centred arch with hollow-chamfer dressings, and limited renewal of dressings.

East wall: most of wall in Fabric A except for gable areas on either side of east window, though not directly above it! Red sandstone used for quoinwork high up on corners. Concrete drain stops in centre of wall where three horizontal grave slabs set against wall edge. Eroding string-course. Victorian three-light east window, all in red sandstone with relieving arch over it.

South wall: most of wall face in Fabric A with only upper levels in 'D'; ashlar quoin stones where chancel joined to nave gives initial impression that chancel earlier, though this is at odds with dating of fenestration. Two three-light Perpendicular windows with complex hollow chamfers, the outermost with stops. More easterly window has one jamb stone replaced, but otherwise original. Between is a priest's door with ornate moulding and a Tudor head; lower jambs on both sides renewed in Victorian period. Modern door.

Porch. General. Constructed in Fabric 'D' with red sandstone dressings.

East wall: plain.

South wall: timber door arch, with side posts supporting arch-braced tie beam and king post.

West wall: plain but some re-use of stone?

Interior

General. Plastered and whitewashed, except for window and door dressings.

Porch. General. Large step up into porch and another as threshold stone at south door. Unplastered walls. Slate slab floor. Roof of tie-beams and king-posts, while truss above south door has arch-bracing.

North wall: = south wall of nave. Main doorway, chamfered two-centred arch with some purple sandstone dressings; sharpening marks on east jamb.

East wall: bare except wooden bench and, above it, marble plaque recording Cefn Drawen enclosure of 1885.

West wall: as east wall, with plaque recording Llandegley Rhos Common enclosure of 1885.

Nave. General. Step down from south doorway. West end partitioned off to form vestry and not accessible. Black and red tiled flooring throughout; wooden flooring beneath pews; heating vents in central aisle. Roof 'a wonderful tangle' of 15thC arch-braced collars with alternating ties and two tiers of trefoiled wind-braces; last bay is wagon-roofed with 40 panels defined by red-painted ribs, a continuation of chancel roof to honour the rood.

North wall: two larger Victorian windows splayed with flat sills, the more westerly divided by the vestry partition; the Victorian slit window has internal dressings of red sandstone; the earlier, small lancet has wider splay and modern wooden lintel. Five mural tablets, three of the 19thC, two of the 18thC.

East wall: wide two-centred chancel arch with worn, fluted chamfers stopping abruptly at springers, and small decorative slabs set into arch near apex.

South wall: single Victorian window, but another lighting vestry; south door has pointed arch and unplastered reveal. Ten mural slabs (and at least two more in vestry), of which only two pre-date 19thC. West wall: not accessible.

Chancel. General. Same width as the nave and on the same level. Tiled floor cover as nave, with addition of patterned insets in sanctuary. Flattened wagon roof of 90 white panels with red-painted ribs, set on a battlemented wall-plate.

North wall: one window with heavily pointed stone work in embrasure; ribbed mullions and tracery, modern sill.

East wall: red sandstone for window dressings. Below window four indentations in wall, perhaps supports for reredos?

South wall: two three-light windows with similar ribbing and modern sills to that in north wall. Priest's door. Aumbry in form of small corbelled table in sandstone projecting from wall.

Churchyard

Glascwm churchyard is relatively large and of curvilinear form, though its longer sides on the north and south are straight. Possibly it has been enlarged (see below), leaving a relict inner bank on north side. It is located on a north-facing hillslope, above the Clas Brook. The slope is reflected within the churchyard, despite some levelling, but is more obvious immediately to the south. When viewed from north it appears to be perched above the valley floor. The road to the village curves around south side.

Churchyard is tidy and well-maintained.

Boundary: around south side this consists of a high bank, internally up to 1.8m; externally it is faced by a stone wall, in some places acting as a revetment, elsewhere rising above bank level. Where boundary is edged by the road, it is reinforced by a wire fence. Much of north side is inaccessible because of vegetation but where visible there is a low stone wall and a hawthorn hedge reinforced by wire.

Monuments: graves are localised in this big enclosure with most close to and around east and south sides of church, though there are a few strays near the southern boundary. Most of tombstones are 19thC and 20thC, but perhaps 16 flat slabs of 18thC date, moss covered and worn, close to walls of church. Most recent burial from 1991.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: on north side of church is a distinctive scarp bank up to 3m high, beyond which the ground drops sharply. This begins to fade in north-east sector and a continuation on the east and south can be made out only with the eye of faith. On flat west side it picks up again as a scarp bank surmounted by yews. This is probably an earlier or inner enclosure, though conceivably it could be a deliberately constructed platform for the building.

Ancillary features: main entrance on east from direction of village, where a kissing gate and a wider wooden gate gives access to church via gravel path. This path continues westwards to another kissing gate and a wider 'carriage' gate.

Vegetation: several yews on west side on edge of embanked platform, and a couple on east side. Others around southern boundary. Immature oaks on north side.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 2 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 230
Davies, 1905, 317
Glynne 1897, 52
Haslam 1979, 235
Sinclair and Fenn, 1992, 83


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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 Glascwm 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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