St John the Baptist, Ystrad Meurig, Ceredigion

ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, YSTRAD MEURIG, CEREDIGION

Dyfed PRN 19648

 RB No. 3602

 NGR SN 7035 6765

 Not listed (1998)

Listed Building No. 83326.

Listed Grade II

First Listed in 2004. Last Amended in 2004.

Reason for Listing: Included as an earlier C19 small church with some unusual fittings. The church building history shows an almost vernacular process by contrast with richer parishes.

 SUMMARY

19th century church; 0% pre-19th century core fabric. On site of, and on foundations of, medieval church.

A 3-cell church, small-medium sized. Consists of chancel, 2 bays; nave, 4 bays; west porch, vestry (north), 1 bay; all new built in the later 19th century. Construction is in coursed local rubble throughout. Neo-Perpendicular. Slate gable roofs; vestry with a slate hipped roof. All openings are from 1898; western single bellcote combined with chimney-stack, 1898.

Roofs, floors and finishes, 1898.

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good. Shallow external cutting around 40% of church; underground heating chamber in 5% of church; floors suspended above heating ducts in 90% of church; external memorials significantly close to 40% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – poor. 0% pre-1898 core fabric.

Group value – medium-high. Central C19 village church; good memorials; associated C19 school buildings; adjacent motte-&-bailey.

Phasing:

All 1898.

 DESCRIPTION

St John the Baptist, Ystrad Meurig, is a 3-celled church, of small-medium size. It was entirely (re)built in 1898 on the same site, and on the foundations of its predecessor, but nothing was retained from the earlier fabric.

The present church consists of a 2-bayed chancel, a 4-bayed nave, a west porch and a single-bayed vestry north of the chancel west bay. Construction is in coursed local rubble throughout. All dressings are in red Forest of Dean sandstone (Clive Powell, 1993, 1) and from 1898; the openings are neo-Perpendicular, 4-centred or square-headed, the 1- and 2-light windows being cusped, with simple tracery. There is a combined chimney-stack and flat-topped single bellcote at the west end, 1898. The roofs are slated gables; the vestry has a slated hipped roof.

The earlier church was described by Lewis, 1833, as ‘a small plain building, consisting only of a nave’ and is shown as a plain rectangular structure on the tithe map of 1846 (NLW, Ysbyty Ystwyth, 1843). It had been used as a grammar school for some years prior to 1803 and was altered accordingly; the east window was blocked and replaced with a fireplace and chimney (Anon., 1878, 349). By 1878 the church was disused and ruinous, and was ‘used chiefly as a playground (for the neighbouring Grammar School) in wet weather’ (ibid.).

The church was demolished in 1898 and the present building was erected on its foundations to the designs of Arthur Baker, of Harold Hughes, Architects, of Bangor and London (NLW, SD/F/690). A west tower with a spire had been proposed but was never built. The church appears to have undergone no subsequent major alteration.

The octagonal font is from 1898.

The original church bell was apparently rediscovered in Llanwnnws bog in 1875 (Anon., 1878, 348), but rival claims to it have been made by Llanwnnws Church itself. It has not been rehung (Anon., 1875, 287).

There is a shallow external cutting along the south wall, where churchyard levels have been raised by the dense concentration of burials, which lie significantly close to the walls. There is an underground heating chamber, and floors are suspended above heating ducts except in the porch.

The church was not listed in 1998.

Listed Grade II

First Listed in 2004. Last Amended in 2004.

SITE HISTORY

 There is no firm evidence for the pre-conquest religious use of the site.

St John the Baptist, Ystrad Meurig, was a parish church during the medieval period (Rees, 1932), of the medieval Deanery of Ultra-Aeron. It was granted, as the church of ‘Stratmeuric’ to the Knights Hospitaller of Slebech by Earl Roger de Clare, Lord of Cardigan, in c.1158 (Rees, 1897, 207) and had an annual value of £10.

Ystrad Meurig had lost its parochial status by 1833, when the church was a parochial chapelry of Ysbyty Ystwyth parish (Lewis, 1833). It had no separate endowment and was served by the incumbent of Ysbyty Ystwyth or his curate. The church had become disused and ruinous by 1878 (Anon., 1878, 349) but was restored to use in 1898 and later became a parish church once more.

A Grammar School was founded within the church in the early 19th century, but moved into a purpose-built schoolhouse built within the churchyard in 1803 (NLW, SD/F/689). The school served also as the church from the mid-19th century until 1898.

In 1998 St John the Baptist, Ystrad Meurig, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage, held with Tregaron and Strata Florida (Benefice no. 695) in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, Rural Deanery of Lampeter and Ultra-Aeron (St Davids, 1997-8).

 The ‘St John the Baptist’ dedication probably dates to c.1158 and the acquisition of the church by the Hospitallers, for whom he was the patron saint (Various, 1994, 392).

 SOURCES CONSULTED

 Map Evidence

Blaeu, J., 1648, Map of Cardiganshire.

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

NLW, Parish of Ysbyty Ystwyth, Tithe Map, 1843.

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

Church in Wales Records

Clive-Powell, R., 1993, Quinquennial Report, Ystrad Meurig.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

NLW, SD/F/689, Faculty – Ground for school house, 1803.

NLW, SD/F/690, Faculty – Pulling down and rebuilding church, 1897.

NLW, SD/F/691, Faculty – Stained glass window and tablets, 1920.

Printed Accounts

Anon., 1875, ‘Correspondence’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. VI, Fourth Series.

Anon., 1878,  ‘Lampeter Meeting’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. IX, Fourth Series.

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

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

Roberts, G., 1848, ‘Strata Florida Abbey’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. III, First 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.

Internal (Added August 2021):

Church internal – 13th August 2021.

East wall of Chancel. “Christ with scenes from the New Testament”.

Studio: J.Wippell & Co Ltd, Exeter. 1963.

South wall of the chancel. “St Martin and St John the Baptist”.

Studio: Possibly A.K.Nicholson Stained Glass Studio, London. c1920.

Up dated: August 2021 – PKR.