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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael , Trefeglwys

Trefeglwys Church is in the Diocese of Bangor, in the community of Trefeglwys in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SN9704490610.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16964 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Trefeglwys Church, CPAT copyright photo 426-01.JPG


St Michael's church in Trefeglwys, 9 miles to the west of Newtown, was founded in the 12thC but the present building dates only from 1863-5. The timber bell frame and supports (perhaps of the 17thC) were retained from the earlier church, as was a 15thC bell. But otherwise none of the early furnishings and fittings have been preserved. The building is set in a large, low-lying, sub-rectangular churchyard, with memorials from the late 18thC.

A Victorian rebuilding in 1863-5, though some earlier masonry re-used.

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


The church was founded by Bleddrws in the second quarter of the 12thC, when it was referred to as a 'monasterium', perhaps indicating some monastic link. It has been suggested that an earlier cemetery perhaps existed on the site prior to the foundation of the church and that the churchyard was enlarged to enhance the status of the new church.

It was subsequently granted to the Augustinian Abbey of Haughmond, probably just before 1150.

The church is recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Ecclesia de Treveglos' at a value of 13s 4d.

The church was rebuilt on the foundations of the old church by Poundley and Walker in 1864-5. The Perpendicular east window was retained, as were the old (reputedly 17thC) oak posts that support the turret.

Considerable work at the west end of the church was required in 1932. The west wall was presumably rebuilt at this time and the bell-turret was much renewed.

Further restoration took place in 1970.


The church comprises a nave with a bell turret over the western end, a narrower chancel and a north-western porch. It is aligned north-east to south-west but for the purpose of description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabric 'A' consists of medium-sized blocks of quarry-cut grey sedimentary rock, perhaps a siltstone, some with quartz veins; irregular coursing; large blocks selected for quoins. Red and yellow sandstone dressings for architectural features. 'B' is similar to 'A' but in less regular masonry with some large pebblestones and some smaller, irregular lumps of stone as well as very infrequent lumps of red sandstone; occasional traces of limewash; irregular coursing.

'A' and 'B' are both restoration-period fabrics, but the latter incorporates re-used stone.

Roofs: slates, black ceramic toothed ridge tiles, and a metal cross finial to the east end of nave. Broken finial to chancel.

Drainage: Modern guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. Hints of a gully on the north and south sides of the building.

Note: the church was completely rebuilt in the 19thC, what follows is thus a summary description.


Bell turret. General. Square wooden turret rises from the nave roof at the west end. Four louvred apertures with unconventional cusped heads on each side; pyramidal slate roof topped by a metal cross.

Porch. General. Completely of stone with a high, sharply angled roof line. Two-centred sandstone arch on large Corinthian shafts and capitals; the outer order to the arch formed of alternating red and yellow sandstone voussoirs. Small, cusped, two-centred windows in the side walls. Angle buttresses with some decoration at north-west and north-east corners.

Nave. General. All in 'A'.

North wall: in 'A', but the north-west angle could be rebuilt. Four windows, alternating single and paired two-centred lights with plate tracery above. Each set under a two-centred arch of alternating red and yellow sandstone dressings. Two buttresses, one at the extreme east end of the nave which is more elaborately decorated, the other to the west of two of the windows. West of the porch is a single-light window.

South wall: in 'B'. The fenestration as the north wall with alternating paired and single lights. Three stepped buttresses.

West wall: gable end is completely slated (reportedly around 1987) and there is a concrete basal plinth. In 1932 the wall was reportedly rebuilt with a lancet window in it. Previously there had been a circular window.

Chancel. General. North wall in 'A', the east and south walls in 'B'. Fractionally narrower and lower than the nave. Also a more decorative finish.

North wall: two windows set below dormers which have grotesque gargoyles protruding from the base at either side. Both windows have a single cusped light with a quatrefoil in plate tracery above it; ringed shafts (termed nook shafts by Haslam) have small capitals supporting the two-centred arch of alternating red and yellow sandstone voussoirs.

East wall: largely in 'B'. Victorian window in Perpendicular style; a two-centred arch with three cinquefoiled, two-centred lights and panel tracery above; there is a hoodmould with head stops, and above this a relieving arch of voussoirs in pink sandstone.

South wall: fenestration and dormers as on the north side but the gargoyles are replaced by plain large sandstone blocks which support the guttering.


Porch. General. Two steps up from the path. Red and black tiled floor. Walls plastered and painted with wooden benches to either side. Ceiling plastered above the six scissor trusses. In the south wall a plain two-centred arch, also painted, with chamfers terminating in arrow stops.

West end. General. North door of the church leads into a 'hallway' with plastered walls and a red and black tiled floor. A brick wall, now plastered, forms a division with the nave to the east, and plaster board divides the vestry at the south end from this hallway. Access to the base of the bell turret through a large door on the west side of the hallway. A pair of double doors in a square-headed wooden frame lead east into the nave. On the south wall above the entrance to the vestry is a wooden Benefaction board.

Four large oak upright timbers support the bell-turret frame which is variously claimed to be medieval or 17thC in date.

Storage room. Formerly a school room and is now used for bell ringing and for storage. Carpeted floor; whitewashed walls on west and north with a brick fireplace in west wall; massive timber joists to the ceiling. Two massive upright timbers support the bell turret, both with chamfered edges. One slab - a gravemarker for Mary Jones (d.1844) rests against the south wall. A chest against the north wall.

Vestry. General. In the south-west corner of the church. It has a modern tiled floor, plastered walls and a lowered timber ceiling. The remaining two timber bell-turret supports are here but one of them is a replacement. On a window sill an Incorporated Church Building Society plaque recording grants in 1863 and 1932.

Nave. General. Red and black tiles, with central aisle carpetted and heating vent grilles beneath; a raised wooden floor supports benches. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of four arch-braced collar trusses with king and arcing struts; intermediate trusses with collars and king struts; rafters and through purlins.

North wall: one memorial of 1809/1811.

East wall: a two-centred chancel arch, with ringed shafts and 'capitals carved with oak leaves, ears of corn, and two doves by Griffiths of Chester' (Haslam), the doves painted blue. The carvings on this arch are the only decorative features in an otherwise very plain church.

South wall: one memorial of 1816 to 1837.

West wall: a two-centred arch in the rear partition gives access to the vestry.

Chancel. General. Narrower than the nave, accessed by two steps. Stepped sanctuary and one to the altar. 19thC tiled floor including encaustic tiles in the sanctuary, and longitudinal choir stalls. Walls plastered and painted. The roof has three bays formed by three arch-braced collar trusses with king struts reaching to shorter collars above. There is a fourth plain truss with a single collar against the west wall.


Trefeglwys churchyard is a large sub-rectangular enclosure of about 1.6 acres (0.65 hectares). The ground slopes down in the northern half of the churchyard but the church is sited on level ground on the south side of the yard. It is on the valley floor and a fluctuating water table creates problems for the church building.

Boundary: a stone wall on the north-west and south-west sides where the yard is edged by the road. On the south-east, north-east and part of the south-west it is hedged. On the south side it is embanked internally.

Monuments: all the burials are located on the north and west sides, where there is an even distribution of mainly 19thC graves; mainly slabs, some chests and railed graves and pillars. The earliest seen, near the west entrance, was a chest tomb to John Jones (d.1769) by T. Williams, and there are a few other late 18thC memorials. Modern burials are located on the west side. There is no evidence to suggest that there were ever any burials to the south and east of the church.

Furniture: none noted.

Earthworks: the church is set astride a very low platform, visible from most sides except the south. The external ground level is higher than the churchyard on the south-west and north-west.

Ancillary features: a pair of wrought iron gates are placed in from the north corner and a single gate is set in the west corner. Tarmac paths lead up to the north porch. A modern metal farm gate forms a recent entrance in the south-west corner with a new gravel path to the north porch.

Vegetation: five mature yew trees are sited around the north-west and south-west boundaries and a single mature yew is located outside the north porch.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 31 January 1996 and 24 July 1998
Eisel 1986, 193
Haslam 1979, 198
Lunt 1926, 191
NMR Aberystwyth
Parish Records (NLW) 1932: restoration
Powys SMR
Pryce 1993, 33
Quinquennial Reports of 1990 and 1994

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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 Trefeglwys Church may also be found on the Bangor 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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