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St Cynllo's Church, Llanbister, Radnorshire

St Cynllo's Church, Llanbister Denomination: Anglican

Dedication: St Cynllo

Built: 14th century with later restorations

1. St Cynllo's church occupies a spur jutting towards the River Ithon, a short distance to the west. It functioned as a mother church in the early medieval era and in this context earthworks within its irregularly shaped churchyard could be significant. Most of its architecture can be attributed to the 14thC and 16thC, with considerable but generally sympathetic renovation in the early 20thC. It is unusual for having the tower at the east end, has an interesting range of fixtures and fittings, and contains more dated inscriptions in stone and wood than any other church in Radnorshire, and perhaps in Powys.
[Extract from Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) website, where more details of church history and architecture are available]
2. Two of the north lancets look early 13th century, but both of the south doorways are of about 1300 so perhaps the large single room attained its present size then. The church lies on a slope with a buttressed west wall so the 16th century tower, now lower than it was, has been built in a most unusual position against the eastern wall. It has a NW stair turret and a two-tier pyramidal bell-stage dated 1732. The porch contains numerous steps which continue inside the church beside a tank for total immersion baptisms. There are an 18th century pulpit and tester, an old screen, a 14th century font, and remains of a 17th century wall painting.
[Extract from The Old Parish Churches of South-West Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 1994, ISBN 1-871731-19-4]
3. [The tower is] a massive structure with bold buttresses at each angle. On the North West the buttress forms a turret, in which a stone and wooden staircase leads to the belfry loft. The South doorway in the tower has a pointed arch, over which is a massive relieving arch. Built into the angles of the wall at the level of the old ringing loft are fragments of early English Capitals, which are elaborately covered with foliage and shields. From the capitals springers of groining at one time supported the timbers of the old bell loft. It has been suggested that together with the water stoup in the porch these were spoils from the Abbey at Abbey Cwmhir. Admittedly, these capitals are the same size and type; neighbouring churches did use the stock of free stone left in the ruins.
The bells in the tower are now three in number. The treble has the inscription, "Benefactors I. Walsham 1, S. Groves 10/-". Presumably donations towards the re-casting of the bell. The initials "R.P." are those of the founder who re-cast the bell. The initials are seen on many bells in South Wales. It is not certain who "R.P." was. Frederick Sharp, in his book, The Church Bells of Radnorshire, suggests they may be Richard Phillips of Carew in Pembrokeshire, who was a bell founder. The bell weighs 4½ cwts, and has the date 1701. The second bell has on the inscription band a series of mouldings favoured by owners of the Albourne, Wiltshire, foundry; and has the inscription John Rudhall, on the rim of the bell. It weighs 5¼ cwts, and has the date 1810. On the tenor bell – Messrs Blew & Sons, and again the initials "R.P.". Weight 6 cwts – date 1701. The bells are hung on an oak frame with the date 1752 upon it, together with the initials of the church wardens. All the bells have elm headstocks, brass bearings, and the traditional type wheels.
[Extract from The Mother Church of North Radnor - St Cynllo's Church Llanbister: A Short Historical Guide, by Rev G. N. Rees, printed by IMPRINT, Newtown, 1995]

Further details and photographs

Photography: John Ball
Date: 1 August 1998
Camera: Agfa ePhoto-307 digital

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