St Mary's Church, Pilleth, Radnorshire
Dedication: St Mary
Built: 14th Century
Tower: 15th Century
Restoration: Roofline lowered in 1911
Photography: Lloyd Lewis
Date: 25 February 2008
Camera: Olympus E-510 digital SLR
Note 1: The church of St Mary at Pilleth lies isolated on a western slope above the Lugg valley, about 7m north-west of Presteigne. It has a tower that could be 15thC or earlier, and a nave and chancel in one that may be 14thC. Medieval fittings include a font and stoup, and one of the bells is said to date to 1450. The churchyard is rectangular with a few graves, and there seems little doubt that this was entirely a medieval foundation. The tower is claimed as 15thC, but probably has a complicated history. One possible sequence is initiated by a structure of the same general width as the nave which survives only as foundations on the north, and the base of the wall on the west. Collapse or some other disaster led to the north,?east and south sides being rebuilt with a string course added. Whether the west side was also rebuilt cannot be ascertained for this together with part of the tower turret may have required a further degree of rebuilding at a later date, when the string course was not renewed. The accepted 15thC date must be treated with caution, as the only diagnostic architecture - the west window tracery - is re-set in the later rebuilding. Nave and chancel attributed to the 14thC on basis of south door and sanctuary windows, but much rebuilding on east and south; and the roof line lowered in 1911.
[Source: Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) website (accessed 4 Jan 2016)]
Note 2: St Mary's church is said to date from the 14th century. It lies close to the site of the Battle of Pilleth (nprn 306352) where in 1402 Owen Glendower defeated Sir Edmund Mortimer and partially destroyed the church. It was again partly destroyed by fire in 1894 and has since been restored and limewashed, with a new roof and ceiling. The church has a 14th century font, octagonal with scalloped undersides, restored and set on base. There are flat ogee-headed piscina in the sanctuary and corbels for a Lenten beam. Of interest are two 17th century chairs, a lobed stoup of c1200, and stored in the tower, a 17th century communion table and medieval dugout chest. There is also a medieval bell frame for three bells, one survives of c1450 cast by Richard le Beleyetere of Worcester, inscribed "Sancta Radegunda ora pro nobis".
[Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 4 Jan 2016)]
Note 3: The 13th century single chamber was lengthened to the east and a west tower added in the 14th century, the period of the south doorway, piscina and east end side windows. What was once probably the 15th century four-light east window is reset in a mutilated form in the tower west wall. The tower lies beside a holy well and has a SW stair turret and saddle-back roof. The church is approached across fields and was restored in 1911 after an accidental fire in 1894. The font ans stoup are probably both of circa 1200. The pieces of armour in the church are relics of Owain Glyndwr's defeat of Sir Edmunbd Mortimer in the fields below the church at the Battle of Bryn Glas in 1402. The battle was a great victory for the Welsh rebels under Owain Glyndwr, resulting in the prolongation of the Welsh rebellion and the destabilisation of English politics for several years afterwards.
[Source: The Old Parish Churches of Mid Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 2003; ISBN 1-871731-62-3 (accessed 5 Jan 2016)]
Below: Holy Well in the churchyard