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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , New Radnor

New Radnor Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of New Radnor in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO2106160934.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16921 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

New Radnor Church, CPAT copyright photo CS953932.JPG

Summary

St Mary's church at New Radnor lies on the hill overlooking the town. It is difficult to determine the number of churches that have been built on the spot, but the present one dates to the middle of the 19thC. The only medieval features are two worn effigies recovered from the churchyard, and fragments of the medieval screen incorporated into the communion rails.

The church was erected in 1843-45, 'an extreme case of unsuitable rebuilding' according to Haslam.

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

History

It is thought that the church was probably founded in the 12thC or 13thC as an element of the new town. The Taxatio of 1291 records 'Ecclia de Radenore Nova' as having a value of 10.

A new church is thought to have been erected at the expense of William and Flory Bachefeld in the 14th century.

Howse claimed a 14th/15thC church which had a tower with a broach spire and a south aisle and arcade. Speed's map of the early 17thC shows a west tower, probably with a corner turret, a large nave with a south porch and a smaller chancel, but its accuracy remains to be assessed. The picture is complicated by Leland's statement (in the second quarter of the 16thC) that the old church was still standing as a chapel to the castle.

Jonathan Williams writing in 1818 describes the church as consisting of " a nave and aisle on the south side, separated from the nave by five octagonal pillars supporting six pointed arches, and a chancel. The partition that divides the nave and chancel is a low timber frame under a pointed arch. On the south side of the nave are three windows, containing each three lights, divided by stone mullions under trefoil arches. A similar window is on the north side, the arch of which consists of three quatrefoil lights. The chancel contains three windows of ordinary construction. It also has a tower flanked by low buttresses, and at present covered with a tiled roof, but was originally higher, and as appears by Speed's sketch of it taken in the year 1610, embattled. The tower contains four larger bells, and one smaller, with a clock. Its south side has three ranges of lights. The lavacrum is on the south side of the lateral aisles, which on the east appears to have formerly contained a small chapel, entered by two doors..... The porch is of timber, but the entrance into the church is under a pointed arch of stone; and opposite to the entrance door is a large hewn stone font." Some details of the screen were sketched by John Parker prior to the demolition of the old church.

This church was replaced by the existing structure of 1843-5, planned by Adams and erected by Thomas Dashwood. It is "Gothic in name only - just buttresses and lancets on a Late Georgian plan" (Haslam).

The south transept may have been added a little later at the expense of the Lewis family of Downton House.

Architecture

New Radnor church consists of a west tower with the porch beneath, a nave with small transepts, and a five-sided chancel.

Fabric: regular rectangular blocks of shale with sandstone dressings.

Exterior

General. Total rebuilding: outline description only.

Three-stage tower, the stages defined by string-courses; porch at base entered by ornate Gothic arched doorway with intricate mouldings; lancet windows with hoodmouldings having human-headed stops. Nave has single lancets with string-courses above and below them, buttresses and ornamented corbel table. Transepts and chancels similar to nave.

Interior

General. Floor of slate slabs with carpet over; raised wooden floors under benches. Walls completely plastered and whitewashed. Nave roof of rib and purlin panels supported by tie beams and queen struts. Gallery over west door in nave. Font in south transept. Two 19thC monuments, that in south transept of 1821, the other on west wall of the nave of 1830/1856.

Churchyard

New Radnor churchyard is an irregular shape, but essentially rectilinear with a projection to the north-east corner. It is set on a steep slope immediately below the earthworks of the motte and bailey castle, and the ground continues to drop away southwards to the valley floor of the Summergil Brook, and also to a small tributary valley on the west. The church itself is set on a deeply terraced platform north-east of the centre of the enclosure.

No evidence has emerged of an earlier enclosure, and in fact the history of New Radnor would weight against it.

The churchyard is still used for burial but much of it is badly overgrown.

Boundary: the northern perimeter is defined by a drystone wall, collapsing in places, with some embanking behind it and a wire fence reinforcing it in front. Outside this is a holloway associated with the castle. As the boundary swings round to the east the wall disappears and gives way to a scarp bank with a wire fence and some trees and bushes and a considerable drop into the gardens of neighbouring houses. On the south a hedge and a drop on the outside of it separates the yard from a field, while on the west there is an earth and rubble bank displaying a drystone wall in places, and basically marking the position of the town defences.

Monuments: the north-east corner is largely clear of graves but over most of the remaining churchyard the stones are fairly well packed. Two 18thC stones are set to the south of the chancel, but their faces are buried too deep to ascertain their dates; nearby is a chest tomb of 1796. Otherwise the stones are 19thC and 20thC.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: apart from the deep terrace in which the church is located, there are two other hollows to the south-west and lower down the slope. The writer is inclined to the view that these were quarries, but it is conceivable that one might be the site of the earlier church.

Ancillary features: north-east entrance has stone pillars and a wooden kissing gate; the main entrance in the south-east angle has iron gates. A tarmac path zig-zags up the slope to the church and another runs along the south side of the churchyard.

Vegetation: a few yews lie to the south of the church and other trees are dotted around indiscriminately.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 4 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 245
Davies 1905, 178
Faculty 1847: Hereford Record Office.
Haslam 1979, 260
Howse, 1949, 244
Powys SMR


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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 New Radnor 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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