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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Llanllugan

Llanllugan 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 SJ0577402340.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 32541 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanllugan Church, CPAT copyright photo CS962119.JPG


St Mary's church is a small single-chambered structure which is considered to be of late 14thC or 15thC date, with the east window certainly of the 15thC. Inside is a fine late medieval roof, a medieval font and stoop and some 15thC stained glass. The churchyard may once have been curvilinear, and nearby was a Cistercian nunnery, though its precise location has been the source of speculation.

In 15thC Perpendicular style though the south windows are thought to be late 14thC. An annex of unknown form on the north side, now gone, was served by a now blocked doorway.

The date of the porch is uncertain but is probably 19thC.

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


The location and the churchyard morphology imply an early medieval origin, and traditionally the church was founded in the 6thC by Llorcan Wyddel. The dedication, too, may originally have been to Llorcan, that to St Mary being a result of the proximity of the post-Conquest nunnery.

The Cistercian nunnery was founded prior to 1188 and continued to the Dissolution. Its founder was Maredudd ap Robert, Lord of Cedewain, and it became a daughter house of Strata Marcella. Its site is uncertain, but a meadow by the River Rhiw is one site that has been suggested. However, it has also been mooted that the nunnery was adjacent to the church, though this remains unproven. It was presumably a very small community, with only an abbess and four nuns recorded in 1377.

'Llanllugan' church is referred to in ecclesiastical records of 1239 and as the 'Abbey of Llanllugan' in Pope Nicholas' Taxation of 1291.

It has been suggested that the chancel was originally longer but was reduced in length in the 15thC when a new east wall was inserted. This rests on two assumptions: that this was indeed the church of the nunnery and that the abrupt ending of the roof at the east end indicates that it was shortened, sometime after its construction. Both hypotheses are open to question.

Glynne visited the church in 1867 and found 'a rustic church still unaltered'. He noted the Perpendicular windows, the priest's door and the fragments of medieval stained glass. The roof was coved and panelled, and there were 'very rude open seats and a few pews'.

The 1874 citation for restoring the church, which was reported as being in a dilapidated state with a decayed roof and poor accommodation, included re-roofing, reseating and generally repairing the church. The gallery was removed at this time.

A day school was held in the church in the 19thC.

By 1964 the building was in poor condition, and between then and 1993 when the roof was repaired - constructional details were recorded by the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at that date - and an extended programme of restoration occurred, including the removal of a small bell turret.


A single-chambered church with a south porch. The building is oriented fractionally south of due west.

Fabrics: 'A' is of small to medium blocks of irregularly coursed fine grained grey sandstone, occasional blocks of red sandstone and some quite large pebblestones; random coursing; quoins of selected stone. Signs of past limewash and now heavily re-pointed.

Roof: slates with black ceramic ridge tiles. Modern wrought iron finial to porch.

Drainage: loose stones and chippings around all sides point to a drainage trench.


Nave and chancel. General. A single undifferentiated nave and chancel, all in Fabric 'A'.

North wall: the wall is devoid of features except for a blocked doorway towards the east end of the church which, it has been suggested, was an entry to the cloisters or the nuns' domestic quarters, though this is not convincing. The doorway was two-centred, its jambs and arch formed of selected blocks of stone and the arch stones on edge. Inserted into the blocking is an unweathered square-headed window with a single, trefoiled, round-headed light; the dressings patched in red and grey sandstone; this is a 19thC insertion. To the west of this blocked door, four stones protrude from the wall to a height of c.0.6m above ground level, and there is some indication that others may have been located above them. These are seen as the remnants of the wall of an annex of unknown form.

East wall: the Perpendicular window is two-centred with three cinquefoil, two-centred lights with panel tracery of narrow trefoiled lights above. Most of the dressings are original and include odd blocks of red sandstone.

South wall: from the west i) a low window in grey sandstone set flush with the wall, its form similar to that in the north wall with two lights that have trefoiled two-centred heads; its grey sandstone is weathered and is probably original. ii) porch; iii) a window similar to i) but broader; also original although one jambstone in red sandstone stands out as being different. iv) blocked priest's doorway with arch from a single block of stone, though this may be a replacement while the jambs in much worn pink sandstone appear original; sharpening marks. The arch, in grey sandstone, is four-centred and could be a 15thC replacement of an earlier arch. v) a window as iii) but with a low triangular head to the frame; two pink sandstone jambstones could be re-used.

West wall: a plain wall, with an overhanging wooden bellcote supported off the wall by two wall posts with arched struts. It contains a single bell and there is a weathervane above.

Porch. General. Open south porch in fabric 'A'.

South wall: a two-centred arch of stone voussoirs and unchamfered stonework gives access to the porch. Overhanging light.

East and west walls: plain.


Porch. General. Red and black tiled floor of 19thC date. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof supported by eight slim scissor-beam trusses springing from wall plates; exposed rafters and through purlins.

East and west walls: wooden benches on stone plinths on both sides.

North wall: nave doorway with a two-centred arch and jambs with hollow chamfers; lower part of the doorway in red sandstone, the arch itself in yellow, and although one archstone is clearly replaced it is difficult to determine whether the rest is original; sharpening marks on some of the red sandstone jambstones. Heavy planked door with wrought iron fittings, and one step up into the nave.

Nave. General. Red and black 19thC tiled floor, and the red tiles stamped with small shields; the central aisle carpetted; benches on raised planked floors. Walls plastered and painted except for west wall which has exposed stone and is plastered only above the exposed tie beam; window embrasures are deeply splayed under square-headed apertures. Six-bay roof of 15thC-style extends over both the nave and chancel (two bays); seven moulded, arch-braced collar trusses with cusped raking struts, and two tiers of cusped windbraces; four of these have tie-beams as well and three of these are supported on short stubby wall posts while one is supported on the wall plates; exposed rafters and through purlins. The easternmost beam has been cut away to admit the raised east window at the 1873 restoration - only the upper arch brace and the cusped struts remain.

Two partitions at the west end of the nave provide a small vestry and store room.

North wall: one splayed window, a late 19thC marble memorial, and a wooden Incorporated Society of Buildings and Churches plaque for 1873.

East wall: separated only by a moulded tie beam (said to be the rood beam), and one step up to the chancel.

South wall: splayed window embrasures and a square-headed recess for the south door.

West wall: plain.

Chancel. General. A single step up from the nave; two steps up to the sanctuary. Encaustic tiled floor in the sanctuary, and in the chancel a planked floor under longitudinal choir stalls on the north side, tiled on south. Walls and roof as described under nave.

North wall: two churchwarden plaques of 1704 and 1904.

East wall: wood-farmed Decalogue boards either side of the east window.


Polygonal enclosure, originally more curvilinear in form. Part of the graveyard, presumably the west side, was only consecrated in 1981. It is well kept.

Boundary: revetment wall on the south-east and south-west sides; a wall on the north-west and a straight boundary wall on the north-east side with Tynllan Farm. This is clearly not original.

Monuments: well-spaced graves on the south side; mainly 19thC slate slabs and some modern burials; Lewis Morris, Montgomeryshire revivalist, was buried in the churchyard in 1792 (unlocated). A small headstone of 1787 is the earliest seen. No burials visible on the north or east sides.

Earthworks: south of the church is a scarp up to 0.6m high. With a curve to it this is probably the original churchyard boundary. Its line continues outside the present boundary near the west gate. There is an inner embankment on the north side against the churchyard wall which could be significant.

Note too that there is a slight platform beside the north wall of the church - significant in the light of the proposed annex.

Ancillary features: western entrance through a pair of iron gates with an adjoining kissing gate; concrete path leads up to south porch. A grass track leads east to a single gate to Tynllan.

Vegetation: an older yew tree near the south-west corner has been cut down and a yew in the south-east corner is no longer growing. Two fir trees in the north-east boundary and isolated bushes.

Sources consulted

Church guide 1996
CPAT Field Visit 21 February 1996 and 30 July 1998
Crossley and Ridgway 1947, 197
Eisel 1986, 186
Faculty St Asaph 1874 (NLW): restoration
Faculty St Asaph 1981 (NLW): churchyard consecration
Glynne 1884, 91
Haslam 1979, 146
Morgan 1985
NMR Aberystwyth
Powys SMR
Thomas 1908, 484
Williams 1990, 45
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 Llanllugan 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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