St Bridget, Llansantffraed, Ceredigion

ST BRIDGET, LLANSANTFFRAED, CEREDIGION

Dyfed PRN 4813

 RB No. 3532

 NGR SN 5125 6748

 Listed Building no. 9815

 Grade II* listed (1998)

First Listed in 1964. Last amended in 1996.

Reasons for Listing: Included at II* as a church with fine medieval tower and unusual internal design c1840 in the preaching house tradition.

 SUMMARY

Medieval church; 20% pre-19th century core fabric.

A 2-cell church, small. Consists of a west tower, 3 storeys, medieval. Chancel/nave, 3 bays, without structural division, 1839-41. Local rubble construction; external walls partly with hanging slates; internal walls with render/plaster. Slate gable roof; west tower roof not seen. Medieval vault and openings in tower; remainder of openings from 1839-41, neo-gothic, with grey oolite dressings from the later 19th century?. External buttressing, 1839-41.

(West gallery and ceilings, 1839-41)

Roofs and floors: 1839-41. Finishes: Mainly 1994 including hanging slates.

Condition – good..

Archaeological potential – good. Deep, wide external revetted cutting around 80% of church, secondary; suspended floors over void; external memorials significantly close to 100% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – fair-good. 20% medieval core fabric; medieval tower with vault and openings.

Group value – high. Early 19th century landmark church with medieval tower; coastal location; large churchyard with good memorials.

Phasing:

Phase 1 – West tower, early C16.

Phase 2 – Chancel/nave, 1839-41.

DESCRIPTION

The present church

St Bridget, Llansantffraed, is a 2-celled church, of small size. It retains approximately 20% pre-19th century core fabric.

The present church consists of a 3-bayed chancel/nave without structural division, and a 3-storeyed west tower. With the exception of the tower it was rebuilt in 1839-41 in the Nonconformist idiom. Construction is in local rubble, the south wall being hung externally with slates, the reminder with later 19th century pointing extensively repointed in 1994; plastered within. The chancel/nave windows have 4-centred heads, from 1839-41, but with cusped neo-Perpendicular 2-light windows, in grey oolite, probably inserted later in the 19th century. Thin external pilaster buttresses mark the division into bays. The chancel/nave roof is a continuous slated gable; the tower roof was not seen.

The west tower is from the early 16th century, comprises 3 storeys and is not entirely typical of the region having closer affinities with Pembrokeshire towers. It ha the external basal batter and string-course typical of that region and is not tapered. A square spiral stair turret projects from the east half of the north wall, entered through a 2-centred doorway and lit by simple loops. The west door has a 4-centred chamfered surround from the early 16th century; a single lancet above is contemporary. The ground floor formerly communicated with the nave through a 2-centred arch reflecting the profile of its barrel vault; this was blocked in 1839-41 and pierced with 2 square doorways, one at ground level and one into the west gallery above. The floor is flagged, pre-1839-41?. The ground floor is divided internally into 2 levels by a suspended timber floor, with a softwood staircase, from 1839-41. The second stage is lit by a 2 single lancets in the west wall, and 2 simple slit-lights in the south wall, all early 16th century. The belfry stage has a cusped, 2-light opening beneath a segmental arch in its east face, and similar single-light openings in the other 3 faces, all early 16th century. The crenellated parapet lies on an external corbel table. The tower was entirely repointed in 1994.

A deep, wide external revetted cutting surrounds the church except the west tower, from 1839-41. The floors are suspended over a void. External memorials lie significantly close to the church.

Structural development

The west tower is from the early 16th century. The reminder of the church was entirely rebuilt in 1839-41 by David Francis of Llanon (Cadw, 1996, 1).

In 1810 the church was described as containing ‘the remains of an old (rood) screen’ (Crossley and Ridgway, 1946, 55), portions of which were apparently still present in 1897 (Anon., 1897, 165).

The moulded plaster ceiling in the chancel nave is from 1839-41, as is the western gallery supported on moulded iron columns. The softwood pews and stalls may be later 19th century. The reredos is from 1928 (NLW, SD/F/421). The pulpit, altar rail, chancel fittings and vestry screen are from 1929 (NLW, SD/F/422) Cadw, 1996, 1), when the font was moved to its present location The organ in the gallery is later 20th century.

The hanging slates were replaced in 1994 (Hook Mason, 1996, 1).

The limestone font, from c.1200, has a square, deeply chamfered bowl with a band of incised rosette mouldings, similar to those at Betws Bledrws and Henfynyw, Cer. (Anon., 1915, 13).

The church was Grade II* listed in 1998.

First Listed in 1964. Last amended in 1996.

SITE HISTORY

 There is evidence for the pre-conquest religious use of the site –

Celtic dedication.

St Bridget, Llansantffraed, was a parish church during the medieval period (Rees, 1932), of the medieval Deanery of Ultra-Aeron. It was granted to the Knights Hospitaller of Slebech by Roger de Clare in 1158, confirmed by Rhys ap Gruffydd in the later 12th century (Rees, 1897, 102) but was transferred to the Bishop of St Davids by King Edward I in the later 13th century (Rees, 1899, 290).

It was in the patronage of the Bishop in 1833 when the living, a discharged vicarage, was rated in the king’s books at £6 13s 4d and endowed with £400 parliamentary grant (Lewis, 1833).

In 1998 St Bridget, Llansantffraed, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage, held with Llansantffraed and Llanbadarn Trefeglwys (Benefice no. 688) in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, Rural Deanery of Glyn Aeron (St Davids, 1997-8).

SOURCES CONSULTED

 Map Evidence

Blaeu, J., 1648, Map of Cardiganshire.

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, First Edition, Sheet XIV.14.

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, Second Edition, Sheet XIV.14.

NLW, Parish of Llansantffraed, Tithe Map, 1841.

Rees, W., 1932, South Wales and the Border in the XIVth century.

Church in Wales Records

Hook Mason, 1996, Quinquennial Report, Llansantffraed.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

NLW, SD/F/421, Faculty – Erecting reredos and altar table, 1928.

NLW, SD/F/422, Faculty – Alterations and additions to church, 1929.

Printed Accounts

Anon., 1897, ‘Aberystwyth Meeting’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. XIV, Fifth Series.

Anon., 1915, ‘Cardiganshire Fonts’, Transactions of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society Vol. II.

Cadw, 1996, Buildings of Special Architectural Interest (Llanon, Ceredigion).

Crossley, F. H., and Ridgway, M. H., 1946, ‘Screens, Lofts and Stalls situated in Wales and Monmouthshire: Part 8’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XCVIII.

Lewis, S., 1833, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales.

Rees, J. R., 1897, ‘Slebech Commandery and the Knights of St John’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. XIV, Fifth Series.

Rees, J. R., 1899, ‘Slebech Commandery and the Knights of St John’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. XVI, Fifth Series.

Salter, M., 1994, The Old Parish Churches of South West Wales.

Various, 1994, ‘The Church in Ceredigion in the Early Middle Ages’, in Davies, J. L., and Kirby, D. P. (eds.), Cardiganshire County History Vol. I.

Up dated: September 2021 – PKR.