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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cewydd , Aberedw

Aberedw Church is in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, in the community of Aberedw in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO0802747315.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 17243 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Aberedw Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0348.JPG

Summary

St Cewydd's church lies high above the River Edw, 5km to the south-east of Builth Wells. Though it probably originated in the early medieval era, the earliest features appear to be 14thC with subsequent medieval modifications and fairly drastic remodelling late in the 19thC. Internally, the late medieval screen is the most notable furnishing. The churchyard is sub-oval but contains nothing of significant interest.

On the evidence of one window and the north doorway, the present nave was constructed in the 14thC. While it has been suggested that the chancel which is of similar width may be coeval, their stone-tiled roofs are not continuous, and there is some structural evidence to suggest that originally the nave stood alone (or alternatively the chancel was rather narrower than today).

The nave was partially rebuilt and its east end extended, much of south side rebuilt where masonry re-used on old foundation and nave and chancel aligned by incorporation of rough stonework, west end rebuilt against original tower wall. On north side of nave more of original wall survives, but considerable rebuilding in porch area.

The porch is essentially a 15thC feature but may have been rebuilt, retaining original roof?

The chancel which is largely original must be placed in the 16thC. The construction of the tower cannot be attributed chronologically, but a Tudor date for the internal door to the tower is possible which could indicate a rebuild during the 16thC. It was partially rebuilt on south and north sides, probably in 1888, when south door and belfry windows added.

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

History

Original foundation of St Cewydd's church has been claimed for the 6thC. St Cewydd himself, the Welsh patron saint of rain, has only one other church dedication - at Cusop (Herefordshire) near Hay-on-Wye.

It appears as 'Ecclesia de Abedo' in the Taxatio of 1291 with a value of 6.13s 4d, and as 'Aberdoy' in the 'Valor Ecclesiasticus' in 1535.

Glynne visited the church, probably in the 1850s, commenting on the large porch with its roof decoration, the ceiled nave, and the school at the west end. Internally there was a square recess in the east wall, the east window had been blocked off, so that no trace of it was left, and the chancel was lower than the nave.

Substantial restoration work undertaken by S. W. Williams in 1888, including windows in nave on south side, belfry windows and door in tower, roof timbers exposed and chancel, previously one step lower than nave, raised up.

Another restoration in 1914 when the present pews were erected, and the south nave windows replaced existing wooden ones.

Architecture

Church consists of nave and chancel in one, west tower and north porch. It is oriented west-north-west/east-south-east, but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for descriptive purposes.

Fabrics: 'A' has medium sized, grey and grey-brown shale slabs with some blocks, randomly coursed; no ashlar quoins. 'B' is similar but cleaner and less weathered, probably representing new masonry or re-use. 'C' consists of thin, clean shale slabs, used for patching, wall-top work etc. 'D' is similar to 'C' but also contains some shale blocks, is well weathered, sports remains of a render coating, and has sandstone ashlar quoins. 'E' consists of both slabs and blocks of shale, not much weathered. Generally all stone work exposed except where residue of earlier render.

Roofs: other than tower, building has shale slates, some moss-covered, with ceramic ridge tiles.

Drainage: broad drainage cut on south side.

Exterior

Tower. General. In Fabric A. Square-sectioned string-courses above 1st and 2nd stages. Pyramidal roof (possibly with slates), weathervane and cock.

North wall: Fabric A with large blocks at foundation level; but, except for western corner, 2nd stage upwards rebuilt in Fabric B. Small rectangular window at 1st stage with slit window above; another slit window with crudely chamfered jambs in 2nd stage and above, a Victorian belfry window replacement with louvre boards, the two lights with cusped heads, label with square stops, all in red sandstone. Part way up 1st stage, triangular ledge juts out to link with west wall of nave - no obvious explanation.

East wall: apex of nave to mid-way up 2nd stage; above window and string-course as north wall.

South wall: Fabric A but rebuilt in Fabric B in central section of wall almost from ground level. Victorian red sandstone doorway with two-centred arch, hoodmoulding and stops, reputedly a replacement; chamfered slit window higher up 1st stage; belfry window as on north side. West wall of nave abuts tower on this side.

West wall: Fabric A, weathered and heavily pointed; rarely, chunks of brick pushed in to block small gaps, but only major insertion is Victorian belfry window to standard pattern. Otherwise small rectangular window low down 1st stage and slit window in 2nd stage.

Porch. General. A large porch with an unusual double bench on each side. Fabric is variation on E, with little weathering; abuts nave wall and clearly rebuilt.

North wall: timber and masonry, dominated by entrance 'arch' consisting of arched-braced gable with quatrefoil and trefoils, the whole internally buttressed (see below).

East and west walls: plain.

Nave. General. Higher than chancel by c.0.3m.

North wall: to east of porch, Fabric B but showing variable weathering and render over much of face; a butt joint with chancel discernible, yet this stops c.0.5m short of present division between nave and chancel. Set in this part of wall a double lancet window with trefoil heads in dark red sandstone - original and considered to be 14thC Decorated. Much of rest of wall reconstructed in Fabric E (and no render traces) with patching in Fabric C.

East wall: rises slightly above chancel but little visible, for covered in protective sheeting.

South wall: reasonably fresh shale slabs of Fabric C; traces of render ubiquitous; bottom one metre more weathered and with heavier pointing, but some of this probably covered with graveyard earth until drainage cut in recent times. Wall set on foundation plinth below ground level but now exposed for same reason; plinth however does not extend to current division between nave and chancel, but as on north side stops short, though no obvious butt joint above it. Masonry in the interface between nave and chancel is rough and retains much render, but chancel wall set back slightly from nave and it appears that builders have attempted to smooth out this irregularity by adding new stonework. Three two-light windows with trefoil heads, all slightly different in shape and size, all in modern red sandstone (1914 replacements).

West wall: abuts tower. On north side probably Fabric B.

Chancel. General. Chancel of one build in Fabric D, with slightly battered base; windows of 16thC; alignment faintly different from that of nave on south side. Less weathered stonework on south than on north.

North wall: two 16thC,flat-headed windows, each with three two-centre headed lights and chamfered jambs; iron grilles and diamond lights. Four early 18thC mural tablets built into wall, of 1797, 1712 and 1715, the face of the fourth completely flaked away.

East wall: plain with no east window; large ashlar quoins, though some missing at south-east corner.

South wall: Fabric D with patchy render. Two flat-headed windows, that to sanctuary is three-light, the other two-light; both in grey and red sandstone, showing some replacement; both have hollow mouldings, with two-centred heads to lights. Between is a blocked priest's door with shallow four-centred arch and large sandstone jambs; removal of soil against wall, has left base of doorway above ground level. Two mural slabs of 1709 and 1786 pinned to wall.

Interior

Tower. General. Flagged floor, two steps up from nave. Tower open to belfry level. Limited exposure of stonework in 1st stage and nothing of significance.

Porch. General. Flagged floor but central 'aisle' of Victorian tiles. Roof of two bays with main truss at entrance, the middle one with an arched-braced collar; that above south door has original principals and collar but modern tie-beam. Walls of bare stone, unplastered.

North wall: timber gable end with supports. No gates.

East wall: plain but for tomb slab inscribed I H 1604; two-tier bench: in front, low with single massive beam set on shale foundations and slotted into uprights supporting entrance gable, while behind a higher bench with stone-slab seat.

South wall: main doorway with steep, two-centred arch, and moulded dressings in red sandstone, classed as Decorated style; modern door.

West wall: as east wall, but wall slab of 1722 pinned to wall.

Nave. General. Partitioned off just to west of main door for vestry which is raised on wooden flooring above general level of nave. Nave floor of Victorian tiles, carpet covered in aisle; benches set on raised wooden block flooring. Under floor heating: metal grill just inside entrance. Roof of eight bays with arch-braced collars and braces below set on moulded wooden brackets; a single king-post strut above each collar; over screen, truss has principals with collar and three struts, and against west wall truss has tie beam with diagonal struts to principals, as well as standard collar. Walls plastered and whitewashed, with panelling on north, south and west to height of c.1.2m, made from old box pews at end of 19thC.

North wall: only features are main doorway and splayed window.

East wall: screen.

South wall: as north wall but three deeply splayed windows, all with wooden lintels, some showing clear signs of re-use; most easterly window has a widened splay perhaps a Victorian modification to allow more light to adjacent pulpit, but alternatively to allow a support for the rood loft. Vestry window has engraved date of 1914.

West wall: tower doorway has triangular head, brown sandstone dressings with chamfer but no stops, considered to be Tudor by Haslam.

Chancel. General. Step up from nave to chancel and another to altar. Tiled floor with wooden boards under choir benches; sanctuary has Victorian encaustic tiles. Coved roof with moulded wooden ribs and plaster infill, lower than nave. All walls plastered and whitewashed.

North wall: deeply splayed window with bare stone exposed for rere-arch and internal quoins. Two 19thC brasses and two mural tablets of 1792 and 1793 (see below).

East wall: no window, instead panels with the Decalogue; aumbry to south of altar.

South wall: windows as north side; rere-arches turned in edge-set shale as is priest's door arch; mural tablet of 1783 in more westerly window embrasure.

West wall: screen.

Churchyard

Churchyard is set on the western edge of the sharply cut Edw valley, the river itself no more than 20m away but much lower. From north a small stream in its own valley converges on the river, meaning in effect that on both the east and most of north the ground falls away beyond churchyard boundary. Within the enclosed area the ground drops gently from south to north.

Churchyard is sub-oval its north side very definitely curved, the straight east side dictated by the Edw valley, but straightish sides too on south and west.

Boundary consists primarily of stone wall in variable state of repair. On north acts as revetment with hedge above, the latter giving way to post and wire fence from north-east through to south-east corner. Along south side wall over 1m high and ground slightly lower externally, and on west similarly higher internally, despite spoil etc dumped against inner face.

Churchyard well maintained and used for recent burials.

Monuments: variable density, both to north and south of church. Modern burials to north of porch; to north of church predominantly 19thC and 20thC burials of variable density. Earlier graves close to church itself on both north and south, but earliest of 1729 and 1738 on north side of chancel.

Furniture: none noted.

Earthworks: none noted.

Ancillary features: main entrance from north-west, giving access from road through village. Here one double wooden gate and also a single wooden one. Near south-west corner a stone stile gives access to the valley and commemorating an airman killed locally in 1987.

Vegetation; three old yews on north side with one less mature example on south. Little other vegetation except around perimeter.

Sources consulted

Charters 1993 (Church Guide)
CPAT Field Visit: 17 October 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 216
Glynne 1897, 52
Haslam 1979, 217
Silvester 1994, 12
Sinclair & Fenn 1992, 75, 77
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 Aberedw 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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