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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Andrew , Norton

Norton Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Presteigne in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO3045767255.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16928 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Norton Church, CPAT copyright photo CS953920.JPG

Summary

St Andrew's church lies on the western edge of a steep-sided valley, two miles north of Presteigne in eastern Radnorshire. It retains a few architectural features and fittings of pre-19thC date but most were swept away in the restoration of 1868, and the building throughout gives the strong impression of Victorian Gothic. The churchyard is rectangular yet there are hints that it may once have been more circular.

The style of the Victorian south doorway implies that there may have been a Norman church here. No original medieval windows survive, but a building of c.1300 is suggested by the 19thC copying, and there is some remaining medieval masonry in the nave.

West tower considered to be 17thC, even though reconstructed by Scott; what is unclear is whether the obvious western extension to the nave is of this date or is a 19thC rebuild. The former seems more probable.

Major Victorian rebuild included: south and upper part of north nave walls, with subsequent window insertion on north side; west end added on to nave; completely new chancel, transepts and porch.

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

History

The date of the foundation of Norton church is completely unknown. The castle and the village are likely to be post-Conquest, but the church site could conceivably be earlier.

The Taxatio of 1291 refers to 'Ecclesia de Norton' at a value of 4.

Records of the earlier church indicate that its pulpit and medieval screen were whitewashed, it had box pews, a small east window and a gallery that was erected in 1834.

By the middle of 19thC the church was in a poor state of repair. It was substantially rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1868. In addition to rebuilding the nave and chancel, he incorporated a porch and transepts, reconstructed the belfry and raised the tower, and constructed a split level roof and largely remodelled the interior, removing the gallery and restoring the screen. Some of the new works may be modelled approximately on predecessors.

Architecture

St Andrew's church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a south porch, small transepts on north and south, and a tower with spire over the west end of nave. Church is oriented fractionally south of true west.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of small to medium blocks and slabs of red and buff shale, irregularly coursed. 'B' is of medium-sized blocks of shale with considerable lichen covering. 'C' consists of regular blocks and slabs of green-grey and red-brown shale with variable coursing. Sandstone dressings.

Of these 'B' represents original medieval masonry, 'A' could be re-used material in a fresh matrix, perhaps Victorian in date though possibly earlier, and 'C' is certainly Victorian.

Roofs: tiled roofs, but shingles on tower. Cross finials on chancel and porch.

Drainage: brick-lined drain around north, south and west sides. Church terraced into slope on east, creating a drainage element.

Exterior

Tower. General. Above west end of nave, hipped roof and two-stage pyramidal roof topped by a broach spire with weather vane. Vertical faces have boarding with louvred slots above. Clock faces on south and west sides. Rebuilt 17thC tower and spire.

Nave. North wall: working from east to west, in the extreme east the lower part of wall is of Fabric 'B' capped by chamfered slabs, though partly hidden by lean-to shed; the inset wall above is of Fabric 'A' and contains a single light window with trefoil head and dressings in buff coloured sandstone. Further west the upper wall is interrupted by inserted Fabric 'C' containing a two-light window, the lights having cusped heads with yellow sandstone dressings and the wall itself is plumb and thus projects forward of the walling on either side of it which is slightly battered. Further west again there is no plinth but 'B' masonry is recognisable in the lower part of wall partly as a result of unevenness of masonry finish. Upper wall again of Fabric 'A' with infilled circular hole in wall where formerly a chimney pipe was taken through wall, and a small slit window without dressings. In north-west corner a buttress in Fabric 'C'. At west end, the roof below tower set slightly higher than nave roof further east (cf disconformities in south wall).

East wall: none.

South wall: in Fabric 'A'. West of porch are two buttresses (?Victorian) and between them an inscribed sundial dated to 1947. Above the more easterly buttress the wall is outset and there are two weathered quoin stones incorporated in masonry; almost directly above there is a change in the pitch of the roof line. Taken with the evidence in the north wall, this indicates an extension at the west end of nave. One Victorian lancet to west of porch and one two-light window to east of it; below the latter a mural slab, the earliest of three dates recorded on it being 1777.

West wall: Fabric 'A'; stepped, angle buttresses set on plinths; above the buttresses are modern sandstone quoins. Two-light window, the lights having cusped heads.

General. Only the nave has surviving medieval masonry. The remaining elements are completely Victorian, reportedly in style of c.1300, and here are considered summarily. Stepped angle buttresses; windows of one, two and three lights, some with hoodmoulds.

North transept. General. Wholly Victorian with windows in north and west walls, a stone-built room abutting east wall, and a chimney above.

Chancel. General. Wholly Victorian in Fabric 'C'. Standard windows.

South transept. General. Wholly Victorian in Fabric 'C'. Standard windows.

Porch. General. Wholly Victorian in Fabric 'C'. No windows.

Interior

General. Interior completely redesigned by Scott. Plastered and whitewashed.

Porch. Victorian tiled floor. Roof has scissor trusses; wooden seated stone benches on sides. Victorian round-arched doorway to church.

Nave. General. Tiled floor with carpet along aisle; raised wooden boarding beneath benches; west end of nave also has raised wooden flooring with timber piers and arched plates supporting tower. Main nave roof has arch-braced collars rising from stub-ties, with struts above.

South wall: west of most westerly window, wall inset corresponding to similar feature externally.

Transepts. Victorian with heavy 'Gothic' arches at entrances. Mural tablet of 1847 on east wall of south transept.

Chancel. Grave slabs of 1637 and 1708 set into sanctuary floor. Otherwise completely Victorian with steps up into chancel, sanctuary and to altar; polygonal wagon roof to chancel with cusped ribs.

Churchyard

Norton church occupies a sub-rectangular churchyard on the western lip of a steep-sided valley that holds the Norton Brook. It in turn appears to lie within the outer enclosure of a motte and bailey castle, and there is also some indication that at least on the northern side, the churchyard was originally more curvilinear. The ground within the churchyard falls away gradually to the south and the church has been terraced into the slope on the north and east.

The churchyard is reasonably well-kept on the south, but partially overgrown to the north of the church.

The perimeter of the yard is defined by a stone wall on the west and south, the surface level of the road outside being well over 1m below that of the churchyard. Around the south-east corner there is more of an internal bank, but the drop beyond the wall is less. Further north the stone wall continues, set on a rising natural surface. On the north, the undergrowth makes it impossible to determine the form of the boundary.

Monuments: quite well spread through the churchyard, even on the north side of the church. Some 18thC graves lie immediately to the south of the church - the earliest upright slab of 1759, with table tombs of 1761 and 1763 - and others are randomly placed elsewhere on the south side. The churchyard is still used for burials.

Earthworks: none other than the perimeter bank.

Furniture: sundial on south side of nave wall (see above).

Ancillary features: a modern lychgate with a tarmac path leads to the porch. From there a grass path runs eastwards to a wooden kissing gate. In the north-west corner are metal gates and adjacent railings with a faintly hollowed grass track leading from them towards the church.

Vegetation: three or four yews around the southern perimeter.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1985
CPAT Field Visit: 10 August 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 246
Fenn 1985, 58
Haslam 1979, 262
Howse, 1949, 244
Ottewill, D 1994: Church guide
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 Norton 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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