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St David's Church, Llanthony, Vale of Ewyas, Monmouthshire

Dedication: St David

Denomination: Anglican

Built: late 12th century



Photography: John Ball
Date: 9 January 2011
Camera: Nikon D50 digital SLR
St David's Church, Llanthony

Note 1. St David's Church, Llanthony has links with the sixth century and the days of the Celtic saints. After the departure of the Romans, the Celts held onto their Christianity when the pagan Saxon invaders pushed them back into Wales and to the north. The early saints were often hermits who lived solitary lives of prayer and contemplation. It is said that St David lived here in a cell. Such a saint usually attracted followers, and a type of monastic community was often formed, consisting of stone or timber cells clustered round a church, enclosed within a 'llan' (religious enclosure).
[Source: Brecon Beacons National Park website (accessed 20 January 2011)]

St David's Church, Llanthony
Above: St David's Church, Llanthony, showing its north wall, porch, and west end.

Note 2. The church lies immediately south of the ruined abbey** and the nave is formed out of the infirmary hall, whilst the chancel was once a chapel opening out of the east wall. The result is what appears to be the least altered nave and chancel church of circa 1190-1210 in South Wales, the chancel arch and several windows being original. A north porch was added during the restoration of 1897.
[Source: The Old Parish Churches of Gwent, Glamorgan & Gower, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 1991; ISBN 1-871731-08-9]

**Note: Llanthony Priory, which is adjacent to St David's Church, is the subject of a separate 'Welsh Churches and Chapels Collection' feature.

St David's Church, Llanthony
Above: Western end of St David's Church, showing the bell-tower.

Note 3. The llan in Nant Honddu has associations with St David himself. The site of his original cell is now marked by a single-naved church, the east window of which is said to be precisely aligned with the sunrise on St David's Day (1st March). By the late eleventh century, the llan was just a ruin when William de Lacy came riding up the valley, and decided to renounce the world and stay. The result was the first Augustinian monastery in Wales.
[Source: Wales's Best One Hundred Churches, by T. J. Hughes, Seren (Poetry Wales Press), Bridgend, 2006, p. 263; ISBN 978-1-85411-427-3]

St David's Church, Llanthony
Above: Southwestern aspect of St David's Church.

Below: Interactive Google Map of Llanthony. St David's Church is near the bottom, centre.
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