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Foundation stone, St Bride's Church

St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed juxta Usk, Breconshire

Denomination: Anglican

Dedication: St Bride

Rebuilt: 1884

Photography: John Ball
Date: 25 April 2010
Camera: Nikon D50 digital SLR

St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed
Note 1. .The church of St Ffraed (Bride) lies in a sub-rectangular churchyard on east side of River Usk, some nine kilometres to the south-east of Brecon. The date of its foundation is unknown and the present building is wholly Victorian. A few medieval fittings survived the rebuilding and there is an interesting group of post-medieval memorials. Complete rebuild in uniform masonry with Gothic details in 1884/85; only one earlier window head retained; position of new church very slightly different from that of the old, and a description of latter given in Williams 1887. The predecessor of the present church had medieval and earlier 17th century features, and a curious 'bee-hive' bell-turret, though Theophilus Jones at the beginning of the 19th century claimed that the church had been rebuilt in 1690. In a detailed discussion Williams described the building as consisting of a nave, north aisle and chancel, and a south porch that had a pointed arch to the doorway of uncertain date. The bell-turret had circular openings and a peculiar string course, and was considered to be 18th century. The priest's door was round-headed but undatable. The interior sloped upwards towards the chancel. There was a four-bay arcade, the arches with semi-circular heads set on massive piers, and the chancel arch was similar. Williams argued that a north aisle and chancel were added in the early 16th century, and further alterations were made around 1626. The building, which by the later 19th century was ruinous and too unsafe for use, was replaced by Stephen Williams, the Rhayader architect.
[Adapted from Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) website, where further details and history are available]

St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed

Note 2. A late 13th century octagonal font (below right), a stoup (below left), and monuments to Games Jones, d. 1681, Edmund Jones, d. 1683, Margaret Jones, d. 1695, and Thomas Jones, d. 1713, survived the rebuilding of the church by Stephen Williams in 1884.
[Extracted from SALTER, Mike (2003) The Old Parish Churches of Mid Wales, Folly Publications, Malvern, Worcestershire; ISBN 1-871731-62-3]

St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed

Left: Medieval stoup.

Right: 13th century octagonal font.

St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed St Bride's Church, Llansantffraed

Above: Carved heads at each end of the chancel arch.

Henry Vaughan's grave

Above: Henry Vaughan's grave in St Bride's Churchyard (photographed 12 Aug 2003)

Henry Vaughan's grave

Note 3. St Bride's Churchyard is the burial place of the famed 17th century poet Henry Vaughan, who was born at nearby Newton Farm in the parish of Llansantffraed.
Henry Vaughan (1621-1695) was nephew to Charles Vaughan, owner of the nearby Tretower Court. Henry liked to style himself 'Henry Vaughan, Silurist', a reference to the former occupation of this part of Wales by the ancient British tribe of the Silures. Henry Vaughan was one of the illuminaries of Breconshire. Fifty years before his death, Henry composed a poem 'To the river Isca' in which he wrote prophetically:

When I am layd to rest by thy streams,
And my sun sets, where first it sprang in beams
I'le leave behind me such a large, kind light
As shall redeem thee from oblivious night.

(translated from the original Latin)

Each year, on the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of Henry Vaughan's death (23rd April), a memorial service is held in St Bride's Church followed by a graveside service and the laying of a wreath on Henry's grave (right).

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