St Maelog, Llandyfaelog, Carmarthenshire

 

ST MAELOG, LLANDYFAELOG, CARMARTHENSHIRE

Dyfed PRN 5360

 RB No. 3518

 NGR SN 4149 1188

 Not listed (1998)

Listed Building No. 82398

Listed Grade II. First Listed in 2004. Last Amended in 2004.

Reason for Listing: Listed for its architectural interest as a medieval church with the unusual arrangement of transepts parallel to the nave, and with good interior detail.

 SUMMARY

Medieval church; 80% medieval core fabric.

A multicell church, medium-large sized. Consists of chancel, 2 bays; nave, 3 bays; north chapel, 2 bays; north transept (parallel to nave), 1 bay; south transept (parallel to nave), 1 bay; west porch; south porch; all medieval. Limestone and ORS rubble construction. Internal walls with render/plaster. Slate gable roofs. Arcades, south transept window, west porch door, tomb recess, blocked windows and north door, remains of rood-stair?, medieval. Western triple bellcote, chancel door, transept/chapel arch, c.1825. All other openings from the later 19th century and neo-gothic, windows and rebuilt doors with yellow oolite dressings.

Roofs and floors: later 19th century. Finishes: later 19th – 20th century.

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good. Shallow, external cutting around 20% of church; deep cess-pit adjacent to 5% of church; floor levels unchanged?; suspended floors above heating flues in 50% of church; below-ground floor in 10% of church; many external memorials significantly close to 50% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – very good. 80% medieval core fabric; medieval arcades, window, door, tomb recess, blocked windows and north door, remains of rood-stair?.

Group value – high. Medieval landmark church; large circular churchyard.

Phasing:

Phase 1 – Chancel, C13?

Phase 2 – Nave and transepts, C14?.

Phase 3 – South porch, C15?

Phase 4 – West porch, c.1500.

Phase 5 – North chapel, early C16.

Phase 6 – Restored c.1825, medium impact.

Phase 7 – Restored later C19, medium impact.

(Phase 8 – West porch converted into heating chamber, c.1900).

DESCRIPTION

The present church

St Maelog, Llandyfaelog, is a multicelled church, of medium-large size. It retains approximately 80% medieval core fabric.

The present church consists of a 2-bayed chancel, a 3-bayed nave, a 2-bayed north chapel, single-bayed north and south transepts gabled parallel to the nave, a south porch and a west porch converted into a heating chamber. Construction is in limestone rubble, with some Old Red Sandstone; dressings are mainly yellow oolite and from the later 19th century. Pointing is from the later 19th century; there has been some 20th century repointing and the interior is plastered. Roofs are slated gables throughout.

The chancel east wall has crude external buttresses, from 1820?. The east window is from the later 19th century and has 3 lights with cusped curvilinear tracery. The north wall is a 2-bayed arcade into the north chapel, of depressed, chamfered 4-centred arches with simple imposts from the earlier 16th century. A doorway in the south wall may be medieval but has a semicircular-headed surround from c.1825. It is flanked by 2 windows from the later 19th century, of 2 uncusped lights in square, neo-Perpendicular surrounds. There is an internal tomb recess in the south wall, with a moulded, 2-centred head, from the late 14th – 15th century, effigy gone. Internal corbels lie below present roof truss level and may be associated with a roof of c.1825. The chancel arch is wider than the chancel, is plain and 2-centred; above it is a blocked and truncated medieval loop that originally lit the rood-loft, and a squinch lies within the angle with the nave north wall, associated with the former rood-stair?; an external buttress, also medieval, is built over the joint with the south transept. A quatrefoil lights the roof-space above, from the later 19th century. The softwood chancel roof has collar-rafter trusses, matchboarded above, from the later 19th century. The tiled floor is also from the later 19th century.

The nave is lit by 2 windows in the north wall, one in the south wall and one in the west wall, all 2-light with simple uncusped tracery and from the later 19th century. The north wall west window interrupts the blocking of a former north door. The south door may have a medieval opening but the 2-centred surround is 19th century (c.1825 or later 19th century?). The west end carries a crude, gabled bellcote now with three 2-centred openings each with a bell, possibly built c.1825. The blocked west door cannot be seen internally. The softwood nave roof has arch-braced, queen-post trusses from the later 19th century, plastered above. The passages are quarry-tiled, with suspended board floors, from the later 19th century.

The transepts lie parallel to, rather than transeptal to, the nave into which they open via arches like the chancel arch and similarly 14th century. The side wall of each has window like those in the nave, and similarly from the later 19th century, but 3-light. The west (side) wall of the north transept has a window like the nave. The south transept east (side) wall has a 15th century single, cusped lancet and the jamb of a medieval, blocked window is visible in the opposite, west wall. The transepts are roofed as the north chapel, and floored as the nave, beneath a 20th century suspended floor in the south transept..

The north chapel communicates with the north transept through a plain 2-centred arch, from c.1825?. The walls have a slight external batter. Its east window is like the chancel east window and from the later 19th century; there are 2 windows in the north wall, each of 2 cusped lights in a segmental surround also from the later 19th century. Between then lies a blocked window that had either a semicircular or 4-centred head. The softwood roof has a canted ceiling with frames and plaster panels, from the later 19th century. The flagged floor may be from c.1825.

The west porch is medieval but was converted into a heating chamber in c.1900. The doorway has a depressed, 2-centred head from c.1500. The flue is in the north wall and has a red-brick chimney stack, c.1900. The floor is below churchyard ground level.

The south porch is also medieval but has internal stone benching from the late 19th – early 20th  century. The south wall and door were rebuilt in the later 19th century. The softwood roof has scissors-braced rafters, matchboarded above, from the later 19th century. The quarry-tiled floor may be 20th century.

There is a shallow, external earth cutting along the north side of the nave. A deep cess-pit lies adjacent to the north-west corner of the nave. There is no evidence for changes in floor level. Floors are suspended above heating flues in the nave and transepts. There is no underfloor void in the chancel and north chapel. The west porch has a below-ground floor. Many external memorials and family tombs lie significantly close to the south and east walls.

Structural development

The chancel arch is wider than the chancel suggesting that it, and the nave, were added to a pre-existing chancel. The transept arches are similar in form, therefore the nave and transepts may be 14th century additions to a 13th century chancel; the work, however, was not continuous, there being a joint between the nave and the south transept. The south porch was probably and addition of the 15th century, while the west porch appears to be later, from c.1500. The north chapel is from the earlier 16th century. There were 2 bells in 1552 (Wallcott, 1871, I), and in 1684 when they required new wheels and ropes (Evans, 1915, 94).

The windows were ‘out of repaire’ in 1672 (Anon, 1919, 211), and the roofs ‘wanted tileing’ in 1684 (Evans, 1915, 94).  The church was in good order by 1705, but the floors were unpaved (Evans, 1917, 67). In 1720 the roofs of the church and porch were described as recently repaired, but the floor passages still required ‘flagging’ and walls required plastering and liming; a west gallery is mentioned (Evans, 1921, 11). The bard Iolo Morgannwg described the church in 1796 as ‘large, but a confused heap of rude buildings, of additions upon additions – in different ages’ (Anon., 1921, 21). The double bellcote and its 2 bells were noted.

The church underwent a period of abandonment and dereliction prior to its being restored in 1825 (Churchwarden, pers. Comm.). The arch between the north transept and the north chapel, which had, for some years, been blocked, was opened up and ‘rebuilt’ (ibid.). The chancel south door (and the nave south door?) received new surrounds while the chancel buttresses may now have been added. The triple bellcote belong to this restoration, as may the north chapel floor. There is evidence that the church was reroofed; it was probably also refenestrated and reseated. The tithe map of 1842 (NLW, Llandyfaelog, 1842), shows the church as comprising only the chancel, nave and transepts but is stylised and unreliable.

The church was restored again the later 19th century when it was entirely refenestrated, reroofed and refloored; the south porch was partly rebuilt and the interior was reseated and replastered.

The west porch was converted into a heating chamber in c.1900.

The softwood pulpit and pews are from the later 19th century, as is the organ in the chapel. The oak-panelled reredos and free-standing stalls are early 20th century. The softwood screen in the chapel arcade may be later 20th century.

The roofs were reslated in the early 1990s (Churchwarden, pers. comm.).

The octagonal font is 20th century..

The church was not listed in 1998. Listed Grade II. First Listed in 2004. Last Amended in 2004.

SITE HISTORY

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

Large circular churchyard; Celtic dedication.

St Maelog, Llandyfaelog, was a parish church during the medieval period (Rees, 1932), of the medieval Deanery of Kidwelly. The church was in the gift of the Lords of the Manor of Kidwelly, who, in 1139, conferred it upon Ewenny Priory, Glam. (Davies and Hughes, 1996,6). It was transferred to New College, Leicester, in 1355-6 (Stephens, 1939, 69) but then appropriated by the Bishop of St Davids in 1359 (Morgan, 1906, 90). There was a formal chapel-of-ease within the parish, and an extra-parochial chapel (Lewis, 1833).

The patronage eventually fell into private hands. In 1833 the living was a vicarage in the patronage of the trustees of the late patron, John Mellor Esq.; it was rated in the king’s books at £9 13s 4d, and endowed with £200 royal bounty and £1600 parliamentary grant (ibid.).

In 1998, St Maelog, Llandyfaelog, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage, held with Kidwelly (Benefice no. 685) in the Archdeaconry of Carmarthen, Rural Deanery of  Cydweli (St Davids, 1997-8).

SOURCES CONSULTED

 Map Evidence

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, First Edition, Sheet XLVI.11.

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, Second Edition, Sheet XLVI.11.

NLW, Parish of Llandyfaelog, Tithe Map, 1842.

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

Church in Wales Records

Lewis, W., and Lewis, P., 1996, Quinquennial Report, Llandyfaelog.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

NLW, SD/F/252, Faculty – Stained glass window, 1919.

NLW, SD/F/253, Faculty – Stained glass window, 1927.

Parish Records, Carmarthenshire Record Office, Carmarthen

(CPR/102 – Llandyfaelog)

 Printed Accounts

Anon., 1919, ‘Miscellanea’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XIX, Sixth Series.

Anon., 1921, ‘Iolo Morgannwg’s Excursion, June 1796’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 14.

Crossley, F. H., and Ridgway, M. H., 1947, ‘Screens, Lofts and Stalls situated in Wales and Monmouthshire: Part 8’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XCIX.

Davies, J. D., and Hughes, W. E. V., 1996, Kidwelly with St Teilo and Llandyfaelog: A Brief Guide’.

Evans, G. E., 1915, ‘Carmarthenshire Presentments’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 10.

Evans, G. E., 1917, ‘Churchwardens’ Presentments, AD 1705’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 11.

Evans, G. E., 1921, ‘Carmarthenshire Presentments’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 14.

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

Morgan, J., 1906, ‘Continental Records’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 1.

RCAHM, 1917, Inventory: Carmarthenshire.

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

Stephens, J. W. W., 1939, ‘Historical Notes on St Ishmael’s Church’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 29.

Walcott, M. E. C., 1871, ‘Original Documents’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. II, Fourth Series.

Waters, E. J., 1911, ‘Among the Tombs’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 6.

Updated: August 2021 – PKR