Radnorshire Churches Survey
Church of St Mary , Llanfaredd
Llanfaredd Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Llanelwedd in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0694550746.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16848 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.
St Mary's church is a simple structure, lying some 3km to the east of Builth Wells on the east side of the Wye Valley. There is little diagnostic architectural detail and apart from a late medieval font, some early altar rails and an unconfirmed report of
an early bell, little in the way of pre-19thC furnishings and fittings. The churchyard is small and partly curvilinear, with a useful range of 18thC gravestones.
It is possible but undemonstrable that the walls of the building (in Fabric A) are medieval, though the different thicknesses of the chancel walls may be relevant in this context; equally the significance of the large patch of Fabric B in the west wall
cannot be ascertained. The 1890 Specification implies that the walls were not rebuilt at this time, but that the old window embrasures were filled with old stone.
The fenestration is in Early English style, but it has not been established whether this is a true reflection of what was here previously.
Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam
The location and the shape of the churchyard hint at an early medieval origin, but there is nothing to confirm this supposition.
Llanfaredd does not appear to feature in either 13thC Taxatio or in the 1535 Valor.
Much renewal was undertaken by E.V.Collier in 1891, including excavation of the surrounding drain, insertion of new windows and floors, and the addition of buttresses.
A small single-chamber church, its chancel and nave in one, with a south porch and a bell-turret over the west end. The church is aligned west-south-west/east-north-east, but for the purposes of this description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.
Fabrics: 'A' consists of slabs of brown and perhaps grey fine-grained sandstone or siltstone, small to medium in size and randomly coursed. Flecks of limewash adhere to the masonry.
'B' consists of big blocks and lumps of stone, a wide mixture including conglomerate and limestone.
Roofs: slates, ornate ceramic ridge tiles, a finial socket for a lost finial over chancel; a metal finial over porch.
Drainage: concrete and brick-lined drain around building, 0.5m max wide and 0.5m max deep.
Nave and Chancel. General. All in Fabric A except for part of west wall.
North wall: three windows, from west, of one, three and two simple chamfered lancets in red sandstone, the last lighting the chancel. All are Victorian inserted into wall and the filling material looks fresher but other wise uniform with the rest of the
masonry. Upper wall replaced in parts with similar material. One buttress at or very close to nave/chancel divide. It has coping stones which look Victorian though possibly its core could be earlier. In the chancel wall are two metal tie rods (inserted in
the post-war period).
East wall: wall rebuilt, probably from just above window sill level. Three stepped lancets of the same simple design as rest of fenestration. Diagonal buttresses. Three 19thC gravestones lean against wall, and one mural tablet with dates ranging from 1796
South wall: same pattern of windows, one buttress and upper part of wall probably rebuilt. Behind the buttress is some evidence of a blocked window, unless it is a coincidence of mortar lines; if the former it predates the Victorian restoration.
West wall: in the centre of the wall from ground level to c.2m is a large patch of Fabric B; one stone has engraved 'doodles'. It is impossible to determine how much of this wall has been rebuilt.
Porch. General. All walls are in Fabric A. When seen from the south, this cell of the building is leaning sideways badly.
South wall: segmental arch of voussoirs with more regular stones used for jambs. Wooden gates across entrance.
East and west walls: plain.
Porch. General. Floored in black and red tiles; unplastered walls; roof of purlins and rafters, relatively recent in date.
North wall: two-centred arch with stopped chamfers, all in Victorian buff-yellow sandstone, but door itself earlier, perhaps 17thC.
East wall: wooden bench on stone foundations; mural tablet of 1772.
West wall: bench as on east, with mural tablets, both of 1709.
Nave. General. Victorian tiled floor with carpets over part, and benches on raised wooden plinths. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof of four bays, with collars and king and raking struts, much renewed. West end partitioned off as vestry.
North wall: virtually no splaying to windows.
East wall: two-centred chancel arch, the dressed stone in alternating colours; hoodmoulding. Victorian.
South wall: slight window splays only. Segmental head to door reveal.
West wall: plain.
Chancel. General. One step up to chancel, one to sanctuary. Floor as in nave, but more patterned; choir stalls raised on wooden plinths. Walls plastered and whitewashed, but it should be noted that north and east walls are rather thicker than the south
wall and those of nave. Roof of two bays is similar to nave except that collars have arch-bracing.
North wall: window has only shallow splay. One 20thC mural tablet and one of 1765/1769.
South wall: splayed window and 19thC mural tablet.
The churchyard is small and irregular in shape, though tending to curvilinearity in places. It tips from east to west, a reflection of the slope down to the Wye, but is also perched on the edge of a river terrace at the point where it is breached by a
small stream valley.
It is well maintained and is used for modern burial.
Its perimeter is defined by a drystone wall with a concrete capping, 1m high on the south-west. Generally there is only slight evidence of a raised interior, but on the north-west it rises above the adjacent stockyard, and above the buildings to the west,
though this may be due to deliberate excavation and the natural slope respectively.
Monuments: gravestones are dotted around the churchyard with rather more to the north than the south. Older ones are cemented in against the churchyard wall on the south and east: one in Latin might be of 1686, and the earliest in English appears to be of
Ancillary features: double wooden gates on south-west provide main access, and there is a stile on the east side.
Vegetation: one old yew to the west of the church and a second, smaller one near the south-west entrance.
CPAT Field Visit: 29 February 1996
Davies 1905, 328
Faculty 1890: NLW/SD/F/323
Haslam 1979, 252
Howse, 1949, 244
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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 Llanfaredd 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 - firstname.lastname@example.org, website - www.cpat.org.uk.
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