Radnorshire Churches Survey
Church of St David , Llanddewi Ystradenni
Llanddewi Ystradenni Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llanddewi Ystradenny in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1080868636.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16822 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.
St David's church lies in a partly curvilinear churchyard on the east side of the River Ithon, some nine miles to the north of Llandrindod Wells. The church is a single cell with little of pre-19thC interest apart from a hybrid Romanesque doorway, having
been largely rebuilt at the end of the Victorian era. Internally, the furnishings and fittings include the medieval font and a couple of interesting wall monuments.
Church was largely rebuilt in 1890 using older masonry and putting in place new Perpendicular windows. Survivals from an earlier though not necessarily medieval building may be the north and east walls, but it is impossible to distinguish what is original
from what is rebuilt. The only architectural feature of pre-19thC origin is a Romanesque priest's door, and this is clearly composite and of unknown origin.
Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam
Nothing is known of the early history of the site, though the location and curvilinear churchyard point to an early medieval origin.
No medieval references have been identified.
Williams, in 1818, records a "neat modernized edifice", suggesting perhaps that some work on the church and its fabric had occurred in previous century.
An 1874 account describes the east window as "Perpendicular, very rude in its workmanship". The parish clerk had informed the author that "in digging graves on the north side he discovered foundations, which would indicate the existence at one time of a
north aisle". The north wall had evidently been re-built at a late date, being much thinner than the wall on the south side.
The church was rebuilt in 1890 with windows in late Perpendicular style. The specification stipulates that south and west walls of church to be taken down and rebuilt of old stone, the foundations of the old porch to be removed, new porch walls to be of
old stone, new windows to be set in the old walls on other sides replacing in some cases wooden windows, the priest's door to be taken down and re-set, and earth inside church to be excavated to depth of about 12".
The church consists of nave and chancel as single chamber, bell turret at west end and south porch attached to west end of nave. The church is aligned fractionally south of grid west.
Fabric: grey and iron-stained grey sedimentary rock (?siltstone) in small to medium blocks and slabs, irregularly coursed, with larger blocks for quoins. Fragments of render still in place.
Roofs: slates, ceramic ridge tiles, metal cross finial on chancel, stone one on porch.
Drainage: downpipes but no obvious drainage trench around exterior.
Nave. General. No external differentiation between nave and chancel. Walls taper slightly. Above west end of nave is wooden bell turret with weatherboarded sides and two louvred openings on each side. A pyramidal roof with reconstituted red clay tiles is
surmounted by a weathervane.
North wall: two windows with unembellished rectangular frames, one with two and one with three lights; these have flat heads with simple chamfered dressings in yellow sandstone. That to west is clearly inserted, that to east less obviously so. Numerous
grave slabs are leant against wall.
West wall: not present.
South wall: main feature is a blocked Romanesque priest's doorway incorporating a reputedly 13thC inscription on a jamb stone; two-step jambs, shafts in the angle with foliage capitals, round arch with the roll-moulding behind two square ones. Lack of
symmetry and different structural elements (e.g. the capitals) on the east and west indicate a composite rebuild; traces of red and white limewash adhere to some of the dressed stone. One three-light window, exactly as chancel window to east; also masonry
change as in chancel. One mural tablet of 1826/1836.
West wall: heavily lichened; large quoins. One two-light window under a two-centred arch, with ogee-headed lights and cinquefoil tracery, and hoodmoulding with human-headed stops. Two 19thC gravestones lean against wall.
Chancel. North wall: as north wall of nave but no windows. Chimney stack protrudes above roof.
East wall: masonry has rare flecks of render. One three-light Victorian window, similar to that in west wall of nave but with panels above the lights. One mural tablet of 1838 on wall, two 19thC gravestones leant against wall.
South wall: at a varying distance (average of 1.0m) below eaves level the masonry becomes cleaner with less lichen; this runs for full length of nave and chancel and could indicate rebuilding, but it is more likely that masonry used (?or re-used) is from a
different source. At base of wall at south-east angle is projecting foundation course, <2m long, 0.3m high and 0.15m out, presumably the base of the earlier chancel. Pair of rectangular three-light windows, sufficiently close to share a label; ogee heads
to lights with cinquefoil tracery, complex chamfers, all in yellow sandstone and wholly Victorian.
Porch. General. Plain and Victorian. Doorway with two-centred arch and stopped chamfers in yellow sandstone.
Porch. General. Floored with black and red tiles. Roof of simple rafters and purlins. Walls plain and unplastered. Main south door of church is Victorian with a two-centred arch and hoodmoulding with human-headed stops.
Nave. General. Red and black tiles; carpet down central aisle over heating vents. Benches on flush wooden block flooring. Roof covering both nave and chancel of 8 bays with arch-braced collars. All internal walls plastered and whitewashed. North-west
corner partitioned off for vestry.
North wall: splayed windows; one mural tablet of 1739/1758/1774.
East wall: none.
South wall: splayed window and doorway.
West wall: splayed window.
Chancel. General. Single steps up to chancel from nave, to sanctuary, and to altar. Tiled floors in patterns; choir stalls on flush wooden block flooring. Roof: see nave.
North wall: one wall monument of 1775.
East wall: splayed window; one 19thC brass and one mural tablet of 1769/1774.
South wall: two splayed windows (one shared with nave); two wall monuments of 1701 and 1673.
West wall: not present.
Llanddewi church is set is set in a relatively small curvilinear churchyard on the east bank of the Ithon, taking advantage of a low river terrace. A small stream passes <50m to the east.
Churchyard is tidy and well-maintained and continues to be used for burials.
Boundary is marked by a stone wall inside which material is banked up to a height of up to 1.0m (on east). Even allowing for this there is still difference in height of 0.5m-0.8m between internal and external levels, demonstrating a raised churchyard.
Monuments: well-ordered and moderately dense throughout the churchyard. On north side, mainly 19thC and 20thC, though some quite early 19thC examples. On south side at least one 18thC stone and there may be others. However, the earliest stones are those
leaning against north wall of church including examples of 1756 and 1765.
Furniture: uninscribed sundial with gnomon on concrete roundel supported on metal pole; south-east of the porch.
Earthworks: on west and north-west sides a scarp bank curves round church, while on the north and on a different line, there is the suggestion of a low bank. Originally this was thought to be an earlier 'llan' enclosure, but perhaps it is more likely to be
result of general churchyard activity and the rebuilding process of 19thC. The low internal bank which may be the earlier enclosure has been referred to above, but it should be noted that this bank is also present on the west side which appears to
represent a later truncation of the original curvilinear outline.
Ancillary features: main entrance at east end where pair of ornate iron gates; on west is a secondary entrance with a wooden gate; both are served by tarmac paths.
Vegetation: two yews south of church, and a yew bush near south-east gate.
CPAT Field Visit: 02 February 1996
Davies 1905, 238 & 247
Faculty: NLW/SD/F/306 1890
Haslam 1979, 244
Williams 1874, 49
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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 Llanddewi Ystradenni 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 - email@example.com, website - www.cpat.org.uk.
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