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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Tecla , Llandegley

Llandegley Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Penybont in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO1392162894.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16829 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llandegley Church, CPAT copyright photo CS974429.JPG

Summary

St Tecla's church lies in the middle of Llandegley, a few miles to the east of Llandrindod Wells. The small church has been largely rebuilt, though it retains a small part of its putative medieval fabric. Notable features include the late medieval screen and an ornate priest's door, thought to have been brought from Cwmhir Abbey. Its oval churchyard has been extended during the present century, but its form together with the dedication implies an early medieval beginning.

The nave was largely rebuilt in 1876, though there are survivals - the south door, the west wall etc - of the earlier structure. The chancel was either built or rebuilt at this time. The tower was rebuilt in 1953.

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

History

The dedication, the morphology of the churchyard and perhaps the location point to an early medieval origin for the church.

There are however no pre-Conquest records and few from the medieval period, although the Taxatio of 1291 records Llandegley as 'Ecclesia de Landegle' with a value of 5 6s 8d.

The cusped south door is said to have been removed from Cwmhir Abbey, possibly after its rebuilding in 1228.

In 1818, Williams described the church as consisting of "a nave and chancel separated by a timber partition, a low tower containing one bell, and a gallery. The entrance into it is under a stone-covered porch, and a stone arch of a circular form in the Saxon style of architecture. The window on the south side is of the lancet construction, and consists of two lights".

An account of 1874 mentioned that the church retained the original rood loft and screen. The screen survived in a very dilapidated condition, supporting a singers' gallery, of a late date, with a staircase from the chancel. The priest's door, situated in the nave was "of earlier date than any other portion of the church". It contained a fragment of an early pointed window built up in the south wall of the chancel. A stone corbel head had been built in over the south window of the nave, fairly carved, and thought probably the same date as the priest's door. A stone projection in the east wall of the chancel was thought to be the original altar.

The church was rebuilt in 1876 on the old foundations by S.W. Williams of Rhayader, who also rebuilt the screen, removing the singers' gallery, and re-roofed the whole structure. It is generally thought that he added a chancel at this time although the church guide implies that there was a predecessor. Portions of the south wall of the nave, and less of north wall, appear to survive from the medieval building, but most of eastern end of nave reconstructed using old material with Victorian masonry above. Buttresses seem to have been added subsequently.

Following its collapse in 1947, the tower was rebuilt in 1953 using stone from Llwynbarried Hall, Nantmel.

Architecture

St Tecla's consists of a nave, a slightly narrower chancel, a low west tower with squat broach spire, and a south porch. The exterior has pointed stonework, the interior is plastered and limewashed, but for the porch which is pointed except for the plastered north side. It is oriented almost exactly east/west.

Fabrics: 'A' of clean and fresh appearance, small to medium blocks and slabs of grey and brown shales and sandstones, random coursing; perhaps re-used masonry. 'B' of large "chunky" blocks of shale with some smaller, weathered, and randomly coursed. 'C' of large, regularly shaped blocks of shale. 'D' similar to 'B' but more tabular lumps. 'E' consists of blocks of grey and brown shale with anomalies which become more regular at higher levels, randomly coursed. 'F' of regular blocks of shale, but different from 'C' in regularity and colour. 'G' of regular blocks of orange-buff slightly vesicular stone plus shale and some quartzite.

Roofs: slate roofs to main body of church, with ceramic ridge tiles and metal cross finial on chancel. Shingles to tower.

Drainage: gravel and soil strip around base of wall suggests some drainage disturbance.

Exterior

Tower. General. Fabric A with some dressed stones for quoins. Battered base topped by string course at c.1.2m on three sides. Broach spire surmounted by weathervane and cock. Rebuilt 1953.

North wall: round-headed window at ground level, voussoirs, diamond-leaded lights in wooden frame; smaller window at 1st floor level, louvred and has moulded, sandstone sill, but otherwise similar to window below; stepped buttress (four steps) in north-east corner in Fabric B, appears to be incorporated into west wall of nave. East wall: largely disguised by gable end of nave whose apex reaches to eaves level on tower.

South wall: door at ground level with round-headed arch and keystone with date 1827; 1st floor window as on north; two-stepped buttress in south-east corner, as buttress on north-east.

West wall: as north wall for windows but in addition slate plaque recording laying of foundation stone in 1953.

Nave. North wall: largely Fabric E, but Fabric D below most easterly window rising to window height further west before dropping almost to ground level by central buttress; three windows: from west, a single-light with pointed head, then two four-light windows with square heads, all Victorian; 3 buttresses, all additions.

East wall: small areas visible above chancel pitch; partially leaded.

South wall: Fabric D with intermittent dark pointing and above Fabric E including occasional brick and quartzite lumps, and more regular coursing at higher levels; no clear division between Fabrics D and E. Features from east end are: i) Perpendicular-style, two-light window with trefoil-heads and square-headed frame with label; ii) priest's doorway with graceful septifoil head, supposed to be spoil from Cwmhir Abbey, with much-weathered corbelled head above and modern wooden door; doorway of dressed sandstone, with chamfered jambs, two jambstones with knife sharpening marks and one with a horizontal piercing which turns through right-angle (purpose unclear); iii) another window similar in all respects to first except that it has three lights rather than two.

Chancel. General. New element added to church in 1876? Fabric F.

North wall: one single-light window with pointed head. East window: one three-light "Perpendicular" window with panel tracery, stopped hoodmoulding and quartzite blocks arching around above.

South wall: one single-light with pointed head; also mural tablets of 1823 and 1842.

Porch. General. Fabric G.

East wall: plain; panels from early 19thC table tomb and flaked tombstone lean against wall (two more table tomb panels lean against adjacent nave wall.

South wall: wooden door, timber frame, weather-boarding above with glazed light, and projecting lamp.

West wall: plain.

Interior

Porch. General. Modern rafter and purlin roof. 19th/20thC tiled floor.

North wall: = south wall of nave with remnants of plaster and limewash; two-centred arch with voussoirs, original.

East wall: plain, but for mural slab of 1736.

West wall: plain.

Tower. General. Not accessible.

Nave. General. Floor carpeted, but tiled around font, pulpit and in vestry; raised wooden flooring under benches. Arch-braced roof with diagonal braces above collars. Truss dividing chancel from nave has tie-beam with open arcadework above; feet of chancel roof trusses rest on brackets with pierced trefoil ornament; some of the original timber re-used in chancel roof. Screen divides western part of nave to form vestry. Windows have flat sills.

North wall: some modern graffiti on wall beside rear benches.

South wall: main door slightly splayed, with square-headed reveal; priest's door can be seen as 'ghost' arch beneath plaster.

West wall: doorway with simple two-centred arch, chamfered jambs, approached by single step; above is a splayed rounded window; both part of the medieval church?

Chancel. General. One step up from nave. Floor has encaustic tiles down centre, raised wooden floor for choir stalls, and carpetting in sanctuary. Windows have sloping sills. For roof see under Nave.

North wall: aumbry.

East wall: reredos below window.

South wall: piscina.

Churchyard

Small sub-oval churchyard, raised on north, west and south sides, and extended westwards since late 19thC. Well kept. Set on level ground and slightly back from edge of river terrace with Logyn Brook to the west and south.

The boundary consists on south side of a bank surmounted by a hedge and wire fence with a slight internal drop and external stone-revetted drop of 1m+. On west the course of the pre-20thC boundary is now represented by a 1m+ high scarp bank; around the north side is a well-built stone wall with internal ground banked up against it.

Monuments: churchyard is densely packed with graves to the south of the porch and north of the church, but sparser to the east of the chancel. A couple of late 18thC (1796) tombstones lie between large yews on the southern boundary and one or two others are sited near the porch, but the majority of gravestones appear to be 19thC and many have flaking faces. There are numerous chest tombs with finely carved designs.

Earthworks: around the north side within a few metres of the church wall and faintly on east side of chancel is break of slope, no more than 0.5m high at most - possibly a rubble platform derived from the demolition of the previous building.

Ancillary features: East entrance has main double metal gates plus a kissing gate, the north-west entrance has an ornamental gate and a kissing gate, and there is a kissing gate at a subsidiary entrance on the south-west. All are served by tarmac paths.

Vegetation: two old yews (one no more than a stump) and a more recent clipped yew.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1993
Church guide n.d. (1993?)
CPAT Field Visit: 4 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 239
Davies, 1905, 302 & 347
Haslam 1979, 245
Howse, 1949, 249
NMR Aberystwyth
Silvester 1994, 91
Williams 1874, 50
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 Llandegley 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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