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Church of St Mary the Virgin, Capel-y-ffin, Breconshire

Dedication: St Mary the Virgin

Denomination: Anglican

Rebuilt: 1853

Photography: John Ball (except where indicated)
Date: 13 January 2011
Camera: Nikon D50 digital SLR

1. The octagonal font and the churchyard cross look medieval, but the remotely sited small single chamber with rectangular windows and its pulpit, altar rails and other fittings appear to be all of circa 1762-85, with a south porch added in 1817.
[Source: The Old Parish Churches of Mid Wales by Mike Salter, 2nd edition published by Folly Publications, Malvern, 2003; ISBN 1-871731-62-3]
2. The hamlet of Glynfach, in this parish [Llanigon], is six miles southeast from Hay, and Capel y ffin is still a chapel-of-ease: it is a small building of stone, with a turret and one bell. The building is surrounded by some fine yews, and is only about a quarter of a mile distant from the Benedictine monastery erected by the Rev. Father Ignatius. The population of the hamlet was 45 in 1901.
[Source: A History of the County of Brecknock, by Theophilus Jones, 'Glanusk' centenary edition (vol 3) edited by Sir Joseph Russell Bailey, published by Blissett, Davies & Co., Brecon, 1911]
Photography by Google StreetView

3. St Mary's church at Capel-y-ffin ('the chapel on the boundary') is a small rectangular structure, little more than eight metres long internally. It shelters in the Vale of Ewyas about six miles south of Hay-on-Wye. The present structure contains a probable medieval font and some 18thC wooden furnishings. The chapel was built in 1762, replacing an earlier chapel of which nothing remains. However, there are gravestones of the earlier 18thC and the churchyard cross are reminders of an earlier chapel-of-ease, and it is conceivable that the font was an original fitting and not an import from elsewhere. The porch was added in 1817.
[Source: Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) website]


4. A western bell turret containing two bells with canons, hung for chiming with wooden stocks, levers, drive-in gudgeons, stock hoops and nailed straps: there are no brasses. The smaller bell is inscribed GLORY TO GOD SEPT : THE 9 1716 (Bell). The bell was probably cast by Evan Evans of Chepstow. The larger bell is inscribed: RECAST 1895 / LLEWELLINS & JAMES / BRISTOL
[Source: The Church Bells of Breconshire by John C. Eisel, published by Logaston Press, Almeley, 2002; ISBN 1-873827-23-7]


5. Capel-y-ffin is the home of the Anglican monastery of Llanthony Tertia, founded in 1870 by the eccentric Joseph Leycester Lyne, who took the religious name of Father Ignatius. Lyne was an Anglican lay reader who was inspired by the monastic revival of the late nineteenth century and determined to found an Anglican Benedictine religious order. There was a great deal of opposition to his ideas, and he found it impossible to persuade any of the Anglican bishops to ordain him as a priest or to support him in any way. Eventually, he managed to buy some land in Capel-y-ffin and settled here with a small group of professed monks and novices. Masons were hired to build the domestic buildings, but the monks did much of the building work on the church themselves. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm was not matched by their skill. The domestic buildings still stand and are occupied as a private house, but the church has long been in ruins. The structure is unsafe and part of it will probably have to be demolished to save the rest.
[Source: Way on High the parish magazine for St Mary's at Hay, St Eigon's at Llanigon, St Mary's at Capel-y-ffin, and St John's Chapel at Hay]


Map from Google Maps
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