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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Edward , Knighton

Knighton Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Knighton in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO2872472471. At one time it was dedicated to St Lawrence.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16801 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Knighton Church, CPAT copyright photo 94C179.JPG

Summary

St Edward's church lies in a rectangular churchyard on the northern side of the town immediately above the River Teme. With the exception of the medieval tower it was completely rebuilt in the 19thC and now contains no medieval fittings.

Tower masonry in lower stages together with its east arch is 14thC; highest stages added in the mid-18thC. Almost all of the present stonework in the body of the church is Victorian but there are remnants of the Georgian aisles in the west walls.

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

History

Little is known of the early history of Knighton church. It has the appearance of being a medieval foundation, and reportedly functioned as a chapel of ease to Stowe, a small English village about two miles to the east.

The medieval church, for which a Norman date has been offered on the basis of slim evidence, was replaced by a Georgian successor in 1752 dedicated to St Lawrence. A small chancel was added at the beginning of the 19thC, but both were demolished in the Victorian era.

The present four-bay aisled nave was constructed in early Decorated style by S Pountney-Smith of Shrewsbury in 1875-7 at a cost 4500. The Early English chancel was completed by J.L.Pearson in 1896-7, and in addition the upper parts of the east walls of the nave and aisles were rebuilt and a new chancel arch inserted. None of the medieval fittings were retained and the 14thC font was taken to Llanelwedd churchyard.

Architecture

Knighton church comprises a nave and chancel of equal width, a north aisle and a longer south aisle, a west tower flanked by a vestry on the north and a porch on the south. The building is aligned north-west/south-east, but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of medium-sized somewhat irregular blocks and slabs of shale, randomly coursed. 'B' is of regular blocks of grey shale, randomly coursed, and often with a distinctive reddish tinge; freestone dressings.

Roofs: tiled; cross finials at gable ends.

Drainage: nothing obvious.

Exterior

With the exception of the tower, which is thought to be 14thC, the whole church was rebuilt in the 19thC. For that reason the following description is cursory.

Tower. General. Medieval in Fabric 'A', with massive quoins though these are less weathered and better dressed above c.4m, and match the quoinwork in the later top stage (see above). Battered to a height of c.2m, with a plinth at c.0.4m and a string-course at 1m. A second string-course with waterspouts and above this a further stage, probably from the mid-18thC rebuilding, and then a two-stage pyramidal belfry with open cusped timberwork, and a weathervane on top.

North wall: close to north-east angle and half covered by the lean-to vestry roof is a small rectangular slit window, presumably lighting the tower stair; in same stage but at a higher level and centrally placed is a small window, the light having a cusped head under a pointed arch and some of the jambstones certainly replaced. Second string-course has a single waterspout.

East wall: plain.

South wall: Victorian window inserted in first stage and above it a clock face in a brick surround which has replaced the standard window at this level, the sill of which is still visible; between the clock and the second string-course but off centre is another rectangular window.

West wall: at ground level is a modern window; higher up is a standard rectangular window with chamfered jambs and dressings in light stone, weathered. Likewise the window with pointed arch and cusped head to its light which is set higher in this stage and matches those on the north and south sides. There is also the possibility that a slit window was originally built into the wall below, but most traces of this have been erased. A single waterspout on the string-course at the top of the stage.

Church. General. Fabric 'B'. External walls exhibit string-course at height of about 1.5m. Stepped buttresses to aisles and chancel; stone chimney at north-east angle of nave clerestory. Lancet windows have hoodmouldings with human-headed stops, but in the chancel these are linked to form a higher string-course, while in aisles are early Decorated three-light windows with alternating tracery patterns, four to each aisle. Clerestory windows above aisles consisting of paired cusped lancets except at eastern end; north aisle has Geometrical window in its west wall; east window of three stepped lancets.

South porch with cusped lancet above entrance, wooden door with frame of ornamental timberwork.

Interior

Tower. General. Nothing of interest at ground level except on the east where the tower arch with its chamfered dressings is presumably original.

Vestry. General. Utilises tower wall in Fabric 'A' on south, the other sides in Fabric 'B'. South wall has small rectangular window with freestone dressings at a height of about 6m; glazed. In the south-east angle is a substantial buttress, slightly chamfered on the west, and presumably an angle buttress to the tower unless it is a relic of the early nave.

North aisle. General. Tiles covered with carpet; unplastered walls; roof of rafters with purlins. Most interesting is the fact that the west wall appears to be in an intermediate fabric between 'A' and 'B' and may belong to the Georgian structure. However, any butt joint with the tower is hidden by the arcade respond.

Nave. General. Tiled floor with grilles down central aisle; roof of arch-braced collars on hammerbeams with struts above, and cusped windbraces. Cylindrical piers to arcades. East wall has triple-shafted chancel arch. West wall is pierced by a high pointed, chamfered medieval arch with some jamb and arch stones replaced but mostly original. Above this are five mural tablets and above these are two lines on the stonework representing the gable ends of earlier naves; the lower one is incomplete. The upper peaks at a blocked rectangular window with freestone dressings which is set well under the present roof line. The upper line also links to a straight butt joint just to the north of the south arcade respond; that it commences at a height of around 5m from the floor may indicate an as yet unexplained relationship with the buttress in the vestry.

Chancel. General. Two steps up from the nave; four low steps up to sanctuary. Sedilia and aumbry on south side. The walls are decorated with red and green stencil-work, and Quattrocento angels with texts from the Gloria.

South aisle. General. In south wall freestone jambs below extreme west window indicates where an original doorway was planned but presumably never completed?). West wall retains an earlier roof line which links with the upper gable line on the west wall of the nave. The masonry beneath this is presumably a remnant of the Georgian aisle.

Churchyard

Knighton church occupies the western half of a rectangular churchyard which is level, well maintained and still used for occasional burial. Located towards the northern edge of the town of Knighton, it is set back only a little way from the edge of the Teme valley, with the river itself no more than 100m to the north-east.

Boundary: the boundary is defined by a stone wall for its complete course, except where it abuts brick buildings on the south-west side. Generally the external ground level is a little lower than that of the churchyard within, but on the south-east the wall acts more as revetment and there is a considerable drop of several metres to the road below.

Monuments: these are generally evenly spread but not densely packed. Many are badly weathered. 19thC gravestones predominate but there is the very occasional late 18thC example.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: none.

Ancillary features: tall, ornamental metal gates provide the main entrance at the west corner and there is a wooden door in the north corner. Paths are either flagged or of tarmac.

Vegetation: there are about seven yews randomly placed close to the perimeter of the churchyard.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings
Church Guide by K.Kell: n.d.
CPAT Field Visit: 10 August 1995
Davies 1905, 217
Faculty 1896: HRO/F/28-11-1896
Haslam 1909, 237


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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 Knighton 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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