St Michael's Church, Llanfihangel Llantarnam, Monmouthshire
Dedication: St Michael
Built: 12-14th centuries
Restored/repaired: 16, 19, 20th centuries
The nave, chancel arch, and south doorway are probably fourteenth century. The embattled west tower with a northeast stair turret was added in the fifteenth century when the chancel was rebuilt. The wide north chapel is late sixteenth century. The two curious arches opening to it from the chancel may be slightly earlier work salvaged from Llantarnam Abbey. Three nave windows are also sixteenth century. The vestry and porch are nineteenth century. There are numerous eighteenth century memorial tablets.
[Source: The Old Parish Churches of South-West Wales by Mike Salter, published 1991, Folly Publications, Malvern; ISBN 1-871731-08-9]
The church of St Michael at Llantarnam was probably built by Cistercian monks for the use of the local community. The basic structure is twelfth century and the chapel to the north seems to have been added in the thirteenth century, possibly as a lady chapel. (The Cistercians were known for their special devotion to the Virgin Mary.)
The arches to the north chapel were erected in the sixteenth century, possibly after the dissolution of the monastery, when the Morgan family took to using the chapel as a burial place. It contains a massive sixteenth century tomb bearing the family arms. A magnificent series of wall paintings, including one of the Virgin with a priest and an altar server, was lost during repair work in 1921.
The base of the old churchyard cross survives. Visiting preachers would have spoken here, and it was a stopping-off point in parish processions.
[Source: The Cistercian Way website]
Photograph 1: Steve Veysey
Date: 12 April 2008
Camera: Fuji FinePix 6900 digital
Photograph 2 (above) by Google StreetView, 2010.
Photograph 3 (below) from: A History of Monmouthshire: Vol 3 Part 2: Hundred of Usk, by Sir Joseph Alfred Bradney, 1923
Photograph 4 (below) from: A Gwent Sketch Book, by Ken Haynes, Starling Press Ltd., Risca, 1986
Note 3: The fine old church of St Michael's, set just back off the busy main road between Newport and Pontypool, is one of the outstanding features of Llantarnam village. The church is mostly fifteenth century but between the north chapel and the chancel are two curious arches, probably dating back another 500 years. There is also some fine cable ornament on the remarkable central pillar, and set in the east window is a war memorial in which St George, Christ and St Peter are represented. The whole appearance of the church is similar to St Cadoc's at Trevethin.
[Source: A Gwent Sketch Book, by Ken Haynes, Starling Press Ltd., Risca, 1986]