St Cewydd's Church, Aberedw, Radnorshire
Colour Photography: Robert Eckley
Date (exterior shot): 20 July 2002
Camera: digital compact
Date (interior shots): 25 June 2017
Camera: Panasonic DMC-TZ60 digital compact
Dedication: St Cewydd
Built: 15/16th centuries
Restored: 1888 and 1914
Note 1: 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). [Source: Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) website (accessed 11 July 2017)]
Note 2: St Cewydd's church, Aberedw, is a medieval church said to have been founded in the 6th century, but the present building is 15th and 16th century. The nave and chancel are the oldest surviving part, then the tower and finally the porch. The church was restored in 1888 by S.W. Williams, architect of Rhayader, and further restoration was carried out in 1914.
Above: St Cewydd's viewed from the southwest.
The church comprises a nave with a lower chancel, north porch and west tower. The walls are rubble stone, whitened to the nave and chancel, with a stone-tile roof. The north porch (see below) is open-fronted with a timber-framed gable enriched with bold quatrefoil and trefoil decoration. The roof has cusped barge boards. The unbuttressed two-stage tower has red-sandstone dressings to openings inserted in 1888, it has a pointed doorway with two orders of continuous chamfer and a hood mould and a small window above it. Small original windows are in the west and north faces. The two-light belfry windows have cusped lights and hood moulds, with louvres. The pyramidal slate roof has an apex weathervane. [Source: Coflein online database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales (accessed 8 May 2017)]
[The monochrome archive photographs above and below are undated and from an unknown source (via Robert Eckley)]
Below: North porch.
Above and below right: North porch.
Note 3: The visitor [to St Cewydd's Church] cannot avoid noticing the ancient yew trees on the north side which are judged to be at least 1500 years old. Dating from this time they may have been in place when St Cewydd was living in his hermitage, reputedly in what is now known as Llywelyn's cave on the hill over the river. An inscription inside the church tells what little is known of St Cewydd, a local saint, whose only other dedications are found at Cusop on the Hereford border, and Disserth to which tradition has it that he habitually walked by way of Maengewydd (Cewydd's Rock) on Aberedw Hill. He is still recognized in Wales as the patron saint of rain and, as such, may be deemed as having more formidable influence than the English St Swithin!
There is no documentary evidence available to determine the exact date of the present church, although it is referred to in the Taxacio of 1291. Unlike English churches, architectural styles in Wales offer few clues as the little churches were nearly always built by local craftsman, and did not always conform to the fashionable patterns of the age. The church tower is plain and sturdy and of pleasing proportions. It is built in three stages, divided by two rough string courses. The middle stage is battered and the upper course slightly overhangs and the whole is topped by a low pyramidal roof. [Source: Aspects of Aberedw, by Alan Charters (1993), quoted on Jeffrey Thomas's Castles of Wales website (accessed 9 May 2017)]
Note 4: The church lies beside the River Edw. The 16th century chancel has original windows but there is no east window. The 14th century nave has one original window on the north side. The north doorway and large timber-framed porch are 15th century. The tower may have originally been early, but it was rebuilt c1500 and repaired in 1888. The nave has an arch-braced roof and the chancel a coved ceiling with ribs. The screen is 16th century, although the upper part is later. [Source: The Old Parish Churches of Mid Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 2003]
Above: View from nave showing 16th century screen, barrel-roofed chancel and high altar.
Below: Chancel, high altar and east end.
Below: View through nave showing font, west end and entrance from north porch.