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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Gwyddelan , Llanwyddelan

Llanwyddelan Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Dwryriw in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ0824501187.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16379 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanwyddelan Church, CPAT copyright photo 2412-01.JPG


St Gwyddelan's church lies in the small settlement of Llanwyddelan, about 6 miles to the north of Newtown. The single-chamber church was completely rebuilt in 1865 and only the medieval font and part of the screen have been retained. Built into an outside buttress is an early medieval stone of around the 9thC. The churchyard was originally an oval enclosure set on a raised knoll.

Church completely rebuilt in 1865.

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


The church is dedicated to St Gwyddelan, a 6thC/7thC convert of St Beuno, who supposedly provided land for a hermitage at Llanwyddelan. The dedication together with the churchyard shape and the decorated medieval stone are sufficient to indicate an early medieval origin.

The church is recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Capella de Llanoedelan', and as 'Ecclesia de Llanwydean' in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 when it was worth 5.

There are records of the medieval church being greatly altered or even rebuilt in 1641. Little information can be gleaned on these earlier structures.

The present church was built in 1865, possibly by J W Poundley and D Walker, at a total cost of some 720.


The present church consists of a nave and chancel as a single chamber with a bell turret over the west end, and a south porch. The church is aligned north-east to south-west but for the purpose of description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabrics: 'A' : regular, small to medium blocks of grey sandstone, with occasional larger stones, some coursing; buff-yellow sandstone for dressings. 'B' includes material of 'A' type but also blocks and lumps of brown and red sandstone and some quartz, irregularly coursed. Probably selective re-use of masonry from the earlier church.

Roofs: slates with grey ceramic ridge tiles. Cross finials over the chancel and porch.

Drainage: Modern guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. Possibly a narrow trench around the outside?

Note: an outline description only is provided of this 19thC building.


Nave and chancel. General. No external differentiation between the elements. North and south walls of 1865 probably built on the earlier foundations. Fabric is completely 'A' except for parts of the north wall and the lower part of the east wall.

North wall: three broad lancets separated by buttresses, those at the corners diagonal, the other two standard buttresses, though they incorporate red sandstone dressings and yellow capstones.

East wall: three, stepped lancet lights, sharing a common sill but without an arched aperture. The south-east diagonal buttress incorporates a carved early medieval stone, just above ground level.

South wall: three broad lancets separated by two buttresses as on the north side. South porch towards the west end.

West wall: the whole wall face covered in slates. Above this is a three-stage bell turret: square base with slated sides, a wooden superstructure with panels containing three louvred openings with cusped heads on the south side only, and a pyramidal roof, topped by a weathervane.

Boiler room: in red brick, abuts west wall; entrance steps lead below ground level. Presumably dates to the installation of 1936.

Porch. General. All in 'A'. Small lancet lights in the east and west walls, and in the south wall a simple two-centred arch with stopped chamfers. Above the doorway is a datestone of 1865 set in a trefoil. Diagonal buttresses to either side of the entrance.


Porch. General. Red and black Victorian tiled floor; side walls plastered above panelled-back benches. Roof of six scissor-braced trusses. North wall has the main doorway with a two-centred arch and filleted and stopped chamfers in standard buff-yellow sandstone.

Nave. General. Red and black Victorian tiled floor with carpet down the aisle; raised wooden boarding below the benches. No evidence of underfloor heating but one void covered by a metal grille ducts a heating pipe across the entrance. Walls plastered and painted, and all apertures splayed; central heating radiators on north and south walls from the 1970s). Roof of four arcing scissor-braced trusses forming five bays, with exposed rafters and through purlins; the trusses spring from corbels below the wallplates. The westernmost bay has diagonal braces beneath the purlins giving additional support below the bell turret.

North wall: 20thC memorial brass tablet between two lancets; dado below window level.

South wall: dado as north wall. Two-centred arch to the reveal of the south doorway.

West wall: plastered. No features.

Chancel. General. Not differentiated from the nave by steps, but the roof truss rests on more elaborate corbels.

Sanctuary. General. One step up from nave. The east wall has a panelled reredos in oak.


Originally a small oval enclosure on top of a knoll, it was extended to the south-east in 1938. It is well maintained and modern burials are set in the extension.

Boundary: revetment wall in stone to the old churchyard, though a grass bank surmounted by a hedge in places; and a modern fence to the southern boundary in the extension.

Monuments: burials are fairly well spaced, with modern graves laid uniformily in the south-east extension. Older graves located on south side of church, the earliest dates recorded being 1783 and 1794. A few chest tombs, two with iron railings.

Furniture: none recorded.

Earthworks: the earlier course of the churchyard is visible as a scarp bank up to 2m high on the south and east sides of the church. The whole churchyard is raised with a 1m drop on the north-west above a car park, 1.5m on the north and nearly 2m on the south above the sunken lane.

Ancillary features: lychgate from 1937 at the south-east entrance. At the south-west a pair of wrought iron gates set in the stone wall in 1946; inscribed arch over the top. Tarmac paths lead to south porch from both gates. Also a single wooden entrance gate and path leads from parking area and church hall on the north-west.

Vegetation: two yew trees, the oldest located near chest tombs on the west, the other to the south-east.

Sources consulted

CPAT Site Visit 17 October 1995 and 4 June 1998
Eisel 1986, 188
Faculty St Asaph 1938 (NLW): churchyard extension
Faculty St Asaph 1936 (NLW): heating
Haslam 1979, 154
Morgan Evans 1994, 340
Powys SMR
Thomas 1908, 487
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 Llanwyddelan Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.

The CPAT Montgomeryshire 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 ( 22:02:05 ).
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 -, website -

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