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Christ College Chapel, Llanfaes, Brecon, Breconshire

Bell Tower: Christ College Chapel, Brecon Name: Christ College Chapel

Dedication: St Nicholas

Denomination: Anglican

Built: 13th century with 19th century additions

Photography: John Ball
Date: 5 August 2009 (exterior); 19 November 2009 (interior)
Camera: Nikon D50 digital SLR

Note 1.
Christ's College was originally the chapel of a Dominican friary. It was changed, in 1531 into a seat of learning, under a dean and nineteen prebendaries, and is now attached to a diocesan college of Lampeter; has an antique stone cross, and monuments of several bishops; and includes buildings in the monastic style, of imposing aspect, erected in 1864, at a cost of 10,000.
[Extracted from The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales. Vol I-II, by John Marius Wilson, published by A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh, 1872. Accessible on-line at (subscription required)]

Note 2.
The chapel is a fine example of thirteenth century work, though like all the medieval buildings it was much restored by Gilbert Scott in the nineteenth century. More remarkable survivals are the two halls with their fine fifteenth century open timber roofs. Of the cloister, chapter house and other monastic buildings nothing remains but their position can be deduced from documents. In the 1530s momentous changes affected England and Wales. Henry VIII brought all of Wales under his control; this involved the creation of new Welsh counties, including Breconshire. At the same time the King made himself the Head of the Church and then dissolved the monasteries. This combination of events resulted in the foundation of  'the College of Christ of Brecknock' in 1541 to provide education in this area and thus would 'the Welsh rudeness soon be framed to English civility'! [Further historical details on the Christ College school website]

Note 3. (Censuses) Christ College is enumerated on the 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 population censuses. Examine transcripts of each of these censuses, showing the names and details of all resident staff, servants, and pupils.

Christ College Chapel, Brecon
Above: Christ College Chapel, viewed from the northeast.

Below: Collegiate Chapel, Brecon (drawn by Mrs Lathbury, engraved by S. Rawle 1813, in Rees, 1815)
Note the absence of the bell tower.
Christ College Chapel, Brecon

Note 4. (Refers to engraving above) Christ College Church is situated in the suburb of St David's, on the banks of the Usk, at a short distance from the bridge. The history of the original foundation at this place is not known. It is ascertained to have been a monastery of Black Friars, with an apportionment church dedicated to St Nicholas. The present college church is only sixty-three feet in length by twenty-four in breadth, and comprises merely the choir and chancel of the original edifice.
[Extracted from The Beauties of England and Wales: or Original Delineations , Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive – Vol. XVIII, South Wales, by Thomas Rees, London, 1815]

Note 5. Conventual church of Dominican Friary, dedicated to St Nicholas, founded before 1269, attached to secular college from 1541. The Ordnance Survey 1:500 map of Brecon (1888) depicts remains of the nave with north aisle. This is 80 m east-west by 32 m. The former chancel, adapted as college chapel, is 20 m by 10 m. Three main periods of restoration, 17th century, 1860s, and 1926. Early English style. The chancel of the church of the Friary is now incorporated into St Nicholas's Chapel. Lancet windows. Sedilia under trefoil canopies, partly rebuilt. Seventeenth century choir stalls. The nave was ruinous by the 17th century, and the remains lie to the southwest of the chapel. Originally 88' x 27'. Northwest door remains, with round-headed arch with Romanesque style moulding.
[Details from CADW listed buildings database, accessed on-line (as NPRN 301834) at the Coflein Website]

Christ College Chapel, Brecon
Above: War memorial, west wall, and entrance to Christ College Chapel, viewed from inside the remains of the original nave.

Christ College Chapel, BreconNote 6. The west end of the chapel is filled up by a solid wall with deeply moulded entrance, which has been surmounted by a bell-turret, and enclosed by an ante chapel, in which are contained some interesting monuments, especially one in memory of the Lucys (see interior photographs, below). The remains of the nave consist of the main walls up to the height of the window-cills, and a part of the main arcade on the north side, with a circular-headed north doorway. A portion of the east end of the north aisle was restored some years ago, and is used as a vestry.
[Description extracted from The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire, by Edwin Poole, published by the author, Brecknock, 1886]

Right: Column on interior of
west wall of original nave.

Interior photographs

Christ College Chapel, BreconChrist College Chapel, Brecon

Above: Carved figures and memorial inscriptions of the LUCY family, just inside the entrance to the chapel (see Note 6).

Note 6. The marble monument commemorates the death of Richard Lucy, whose effigy is recumbent with his wife by his side, and their eldest son Gam Lucy a youth of only 22 years of age in a fine flowing full bottomed wig and a sword by his side, stands on a lower step at their feet. At the top of the monument is a shield, below which is a Latin inscription. An English translation is inscribed on the front of the base supporting the effigies:

Here lyes interr'd ye Reverend Learned, & ingenious RICHARD LUCY, Master of Arts, Chancellor of the Cathedral Church of St David's, Treasurer of this Collegiate Church, & Rector of Aberedw in ye County of Radnor Who departed this life Sept. 12th 1690, Aged 65. He was descended of an Antient & Honourable Family, Son to ye Right Reverend Father in God, WILLIAM LUCY, late Lord Bishop of St David's. He was married to ye Vertuous Madame FLORENCE GAMES, sister and co-heiress of JOHN Games, Esq., Son of ye Worll Worthily Honoured HOO GAMES of Newton, Esq., by whom he had six Children who died young; the eldest, GAM LUCY, lyes buried here, who died Feb. 17th, 1697, aged 22.

[Originally transcribed circa 1805 by Theophilus Jones and reproduced in The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire, by Edwin Poole, published by the author, Brecknock, 1886]

Richard Lucy was a descendant of Bishop William Lucy, of the Lucy family of Charlecote in Warwickshire. Upon the Restoration in 1660, William Lucy was recommended by King Charles II to the chapter of St David's, and elected bishop of that see. He was the grandson of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, knight.
[Source: The History of Brecknockshire, by Theophilus Jones (1805/1809), Glanusk Edition (Vol 4) Brecknock Society, 1930]

Christ College Chapel, BreconChrist College Chapel, Brecon

Above: Christ Church College, showing (left) the east window, altar, lancet windows in the north and south walls, and (right) the ceiling.

Christ College Chapel, Brecon
Above: East window, Christ Church College.

Christ College Chapel, Brecon
Above: The Altar, backed by a modern triptych illustrating the Crucifixion, the Last Supper, and the Resurrection.

Interior shots continue on page 2

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