St Mary, Llanfair Clydogau, Ceredigion (PRN 5146)


Dyfed PRN 5146

 RB No. 2597

 NGR SN 6244 5124

 Not listed (1998)

Grade II Listed.

First Listed in 1997. Last Amended in 1997.

Reasons for Listing: Listed as an attractive chapel front, with centre window to lateral facade, retaining its regional character and galleried interior. Group value with Pont Llanfair.


Medieval church; 30% pre-19th century core fabric.

A 2 cell church, small. Consists of a chancel/nave, 5 bays, lower half medieval. Upper half; west porch; vestry (north); 1886-8. Local rubble construction. Internal walls with render/plaster. Slate gable roofs; vestry with a slate lean-to roof. All openings 1886-8, neo-Perpendicular, yellow oolite dressings; include windows and doors, western double bellcote.

Roofs and floors: 1886-8. Finishes: 1886-8 and 20th century.

Condition – good. Floor in poor condition with loose tiling.

Archaeological potential – good-very good. Surrounding ground level lowered, exposing footings in 10% of church; shallow drainage channels in concrete path around 60% of church; former component beyond 10% of church, without physical evidence; floors suspended over void in 90% of church; burial vault beneath 20% of church; few external memorials significantly close to 40% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – poor-fair. 30% medieval core fabric.

Group value – medium. Medieval church; large circular churchyard.


Phase 1 – Chancel/nave, C13-14?

(Phase 2 – Former west porch and vestry, 1829?).

(Phase 3 – Restored c.1850s, low-impact?).

Phase 4 – Restored 1886-8, high-impact; chancel/nave largely rebuilt, west porch rebuilt, present vestry added.


The present church

St Mary, Llanfair Clydogau, is a 2-celled church, of small size. It retains approximately 30% pre-19th century core fabric.

The present church consists of a 5-bayed chancel/nave, without structural division, a west porch and a single-bayed vestry north of the chancel west bay. Construction is in local Llanddewi Brefi rubble throughout; dressings are in yellow oolite and from 1886-8; the openings are neo-Perpendicular. Pointing is mainly from 1886-8 but there has been some 20th century repointing; the interior was replastered in the 20th century except in the porch. Roofs are slated gables throughout; the vestry has a slated lean-to roof.

The lower half of the chancel nave walls are medieval, and battered externally to the east and west; the upper half of all walls was entirely rebuilt in 1886-8. The east wall has an external string-course at window sill level which, like the 2-centred, three-light, traceried window, is from 1886-8. Similar, 2-light windows occupy the south wall of the eastern 2 bays; the 3 remaining south wall windows are 3-light, with 4-centred heads and the tracery includes transoms, all 1886-8. To the east of the north wall is a similar, 4-light window in a square surround, without tracery or a transom, 1886-8. The west door has a segmental oolite surround and was rebuilt in 1886-8. Above it is a rose window in a square surround, and a flat-topped, double bellcote with moulded 2-centred openings on an offset base, all in oolite and from 1886-8. The softwood roof is continuous and comprises collar-rafter trusses arch-braced from wall-plates, matchboarded above, from 1886-8. Passages are quarry-tiled, with woodblock flooring over a void, also 1886-8; there is a burial vault beneath the eastern bays (Evans, 1918, 152-3).

The west porch was entirely rebuilt in 1886-8. There are uncusped, 4-centred lancets in the north and south walls, and the 2-centred doorway lies within a square surround, all from 1886-8. The gabled roof has softwood rafters, 1886-8; floored as the passages, directly on the substrate.

The present vestry was added in 1886-8. It is entered from the chancel via an open 2-centred arch to the east, and to the west through a segmental-headed door, both from 1886-8. It is lit by a window like that in the nave north wall but 2-light, and entered from the churchyard through a square-headed door n the west wall, both 1886-8. There is a fireplace in the north-east corner, again from 1886-8 but blocked and now without a chimney. The softwood lean-to roof continues the chancel/nave roof northern slope. Floored as the passages.

The surrounding churchyard ground level was lowered in 1886, exposing footings at the west end. There are shallow drainage channels within a concrete path north and south of the chancel/nave. A former ?vestry lay north of the central part of the church, now without physical evidence. Floors are suspended over an underfloor void except in the porch. There is a burial vault beneath the eastern bays. Few external memorials lie significantly close to the east and south walls.

Structural development

The lower half of the chancel/nave walling is  medieval, but cannot be closely dated. The upper half was rebuilt, and the present west porch and vestry were added, in 1886-8.

The church roof was still thatched roof in 1783 (Evans, 1918, 153), when a (timber?) rood-screen was apparently still present. The church retained many medieval features into the later 19th century, including ‘traces of 15th century work’ (Anon., 1861, 310; Willis-Bund, 1888, 317).

The church was restored 3 times during the 19th century. A stone incised ‘1829’ low down in the west wall suggests that some rebuilding had been undertaken. The church was described by Lewis, 1833, as ‘a small and very ancient structure’ but ‘not possessing any architectural details of importance’. It is shown as a single rectangular cell, with a west porch and a structure (vestry?) against the north wall, on the tithe map of 1844 (NLW, Llanfair Clydogau, 1844); these may have been added in 1829.

A second restoration had recently occurred in 1861 (Anon., 1861, 312), when the church was described as having been ‘done up’, rather than fully restored, ‘in the cheapest and ugliest manner that any building could experience… in the ‘Meeting House’ style, with bad windows… ’. All earlier architectural features had evidently been removed. The renovated church comprised a chancel/nave, in essence as at present, and a west porch that was subsequently entirely rebuilt (NLW, SD/F/320).

The third restoration practically amounted to a rebuild. The work was undertaken in 1886-8 to the designs of Middleton, Prothero & Phillott, Architects, of Westminster, Cheltenham and Newport (ibid.). The upper half of the chancel/nave walls were taken down and rebuilt, the west porch was taken down and rebuilt, and the vestry was added. The church was refenestrated, reroofed and refloored. The interior was reseated and replastered.

The hardwood stalls, altar rail, softwood pews, vestry screen and pulpit are all from 1886-8.

The font has a large circular bowl moulded with representations of the 4 evangelists (with affinities with eg. Pencarreg and Cenarth, Carms.), from c.1200. It stands upon a brick base from c.1913 (Anon., 1913, 11).

The church was not listed in 1998.

Grade II Listed.

First Listed in 1997. Last Amended in 1997.


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

Large circular churchyard; pre-conquest Latin dedication?.

St Mary, Llanfair Clydogau, was not a parish church during the medieval period (Rees, 1932), but a chapelry of the medieval Deanery of Sub-Aeron.

Llanfair Clydogau had become a parish by 1833 when the living, a perpetual curacy of the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, with that of Llangybi consolidated, was endowed with £800 royal bounty and in the alternate patronage of the Earl of Lisburne and Lord Carrington (Lewis, 1833).

In 1998 St Mary, Llanfair Clydogau, was a parish church. The living was a rectory held with Llanddewi Brefi, Llanbadarn Odwyn, Llangybi and Cellan (Benefice no. 820) in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, Rural Deanery of Lampeter and Ultra-Aeron (St Davids, 1997-8).

The cult of St Mary has pre-conquest origins within Ceredigion (Various, 1994, 393).


 Map Evidence

Blaeu, J., 1648, Map of Cardiganshire.

NLW, Parish of Llanfair Clydogau, Tithe Map, 1844

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

Church in Wales Records

Clive-Powell, R., 1992, Quinquennial Report, Llanfair Clydogau.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

NLW, SD/F/320, Faculty – Restoration of church, 1886.

NLW, SD/F/321, Faculty – Removal of cottage, 1911.

Printed Accounts

Anon., 1861, ‘Correspondence’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. VII, Third Series.

Anon., 1914, ‘Cardiganshire Fonts’, Transactions of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society Vol. I.

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

Evans, G. E., 1918, ‘Cardiganshire: Its Plate, Records and Registers’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. VI, Sixth Series

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

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.

Willis-Bund, J. W., 1888, ‘Church Restoration’, Archaeol. Cambrensis Vol. V, Fifth Series.

Up dated: August 2021 – PKR.

Heneb - The Trust for Welsh Archaeology