St Tysul, Llandysul, Ceredigion (PRN 5643)


Dyfed PRN 5643

 RB No. 2608

 NGR SN 4187 4072

 Listed Building no. 10574

 Grade II* listed (1998)

First Listed in 1964. Last Amended in 1993.

Reason for Listing: Group value with neighbouring listed buildings.


Medieval church; 80% pre-19th century core fabric.

A multicell church, symmetrically aisled, large. Consists of a chancel, 2 bays; nave, 3 bays; north aisle, 3 bays; south aisle, 3 bays; west tower, 4 storeys; medieval. Organ chamber (south of chancel), 1 bay, 1847. Blowerhouse (east of organ chamber), 1924. Boilerhouse (north of tower), early 20th century. Local rubble construction; external render from 1847, internal walls without render/plaster. Slate gable roofs; aisles, organ chamber and blowerhouse with slate lean-to roofs and boilerhouse (and tower?) tower with a flat roof. Medieval vault and openings in tower; medieval rood-loft stair, squint, blocked window, some aisle window openings and chancel recess; remainder of openings from 1847 and 1873-4, neogothic, with yellow oolite surrounds.

Roofs and floors: 1873-4. Finishes: 1847 and 1873-4.

Condition – good.

Archaeological potential – good. Shallow external drain around 15% of church; burial vaults beneath 15% of church?; floor levels lowered in 90% of church; suspended floors over underfloor void in 75% of church; below-ground floors in 20% of church; deep external drainage beyond 5% of church; external memorials and burial vaults lie significantly close to 100% of church.

Structural value (pre 19th century) – good-very good. 80% medieval core fabric; medieval vault and tower openings, rood-loft stair, squint, blocked window and recess.

Group value – high. Landmark medieval church with tower; central town location; large churchyard with good memorials; urban amenity value; lych-gate; associated masonry buildings; early site; ECM.


Phase 1 – Nave, C12-13?

Phase 2 – Chancel, aisles, C14.

Phase 3 – West tower, early C16.

Phase 4 – Restored 1847, high impact; organ chamber built, chancel partly rebuilt.

Phase 5 – Restored 1873-4, low impact.

Phase 6 – Boilerhouse, early 20th century (1914?).

Phase 7 – Blowerhouse, 1924.


The present church

St Tysul, Llandysul, is a multicelled church, of large size. It retains approximately 80% pre-19th century core fabric.

The present church consists of a 2-bayed chancel, a 3-bayed nave, 3-bayed north and south aisles, a 4-storeyed west tower, a single-bayed organ chamber south of the chancel west bay, with a blowerhouse to its east, and a below-ground boilerhouse between the west tower and the north aisle. Construction is in local rubble throughout. Openings, except in the tower and some aisle windows, are neo-gothic, mainly from 1847 and 1873-4, with yellow oolite dressings. The exterior retains areas of 1847 render finish, repointed in 1873-4, while the interior was stripped of its finishes in 1873-4. Roofs are slated gables; the aisles, organ chamber and blowerhouse have slated lean-to roofs while the boilerhouse has a flat roof; the west tower roof was not seen.

The chancel was partly rebuilt in 1847 with a plain, low offset; the side wall tops were heightened (or rebuilt) in 1873-4. The 3-light, cusped east window, with its tracery and moulded surrounds, was inserted in 1873-4 and there is a similar, 2-light window in the north wall. An external recess to the west, with a semicircular head, medieval?, is not visible internally and not an opening. The west bay south wall was entirely removed in 1914 to communicate with the organ chamber. The tall, plain, 2-centred chancel arch is 14th century and contemporary with the aisles; a semi-spiral rood-loft stair leads from the north aisle into the northern respond, and there is a plain, square squint to the chancel from the south aisle. The softwood roof is from 1873-4, with collar-rafter trusses arch-braced from wall corbels, matchboarded above. The polychrome-tiled floor is from 1873-4, over burial vaults?.

The nave is an open space communicating with the aisles via 3 bayed arcades of massive arches, like the chancel arch, on plain square piers, from the 14th century. It is roofed in softwood, with crown-post trusses; the rafters are arch-braced and matchboarded above, all 1873-4 The passages are polychrome tiled, with suspended board floors from 1873-4.

The north aisle is lit by a window in the east wall and 2 windows in the north wall, occupying openings that are probably medieval but now housing 2-light windows, with ‘Y’-tracery, from 1847 and contemporary with the external render. The doorway in the west bay north wall is probably medieval in origin but was rebuilt with a moulded surround in 1873-4. The west wall exhibits an internal offset. The softwood lean-to roof is from 1873-4 and lies beneath nave eaves level; the principals are arch-braced from wall corbels. Floored as the nave.

The south aisle is similar but its east window has, since 1847, been an open void into the organ chamber. A doorway opposite the north aisle door lay in the west bay south wall until blocked in 1873-4 and replaced with a 2-light window like those in the chancel. There are two further areas of blocking in the south wall; the central window interrupts the blocking of an earlier, undateable window while at the west end, a 4-centred, panelled surround with an incised floral motif is visible externally, from the 16th -17th century (not any earlier, as suggested by Evans et al., Hughes et al.).

The medieval west tower is from the early 16th century, comprises 4 storeys and is typical of the region, being battered externally up to a plain string-course. A square stair turret, entered through a moulded, 4-centred doorway from the early 16th century, projects from the eastern half of the north wall and is lit by simple slit-lights. The barrel-vaulted ground floor communicates with the nave through a plain, 2-centred arch from the early 16th century, and features the main west door to the church which has a moulded 2-centred surround, also from the early 16th century. Above the west door is a 3-light window with uncusped Perpendicular tracery, from the early 16th century but rebuilt in 1847 as recorded in an inscription. The south wall displays a line of sockets on both faces, the internal line possibly associated with a former west gallery staircase and from the later 18th century. The floor is quarry-tiled, from 1873-4. The second storey is lit by a single cusped lancet in the north wall, from the early 16th century but partly rebuilt in the 19th century; an amorphous area of blocking in the west wall appears to represent the site of a former window. The third storey is lit by an uncusped single light in the north wall, from the early 16th century with later louvres. The belfry stage has 2-light openings in all 4 faces, with cusped, 4-centred heads from the early 16th century and later louvres. The crenellated parapet lies on an external corbel table, with human head mouldings at the four corners, all from the early 16th century; the crenellations have been restored/rebuilt.

The organ chamber was originally built in 1847, probably as a vestry, and a contemporary 2-light window with ‘Y’ tracery lies in its east wall. The south door and window, like the chancel windows, were inserted in 1873-4. The softwood lean-to roof is also from 1873-4 while the suspended board floor was inserted when it was converted into an organ chamber in 1914.

A blowerhouse for the organ was erected to the east of the organ chamber in 1924; it has a simple, square door in its east wall and a lean-to roof to the chancel south wall. Its floor is below churchyard level.

The boilerhouse was excavated between the west tower north wall and the north aisle west wall in the early-mid 20th century. The walls rise a little above ground level and there is a simple square window on the north wall. A stairwell lies between the south wall and the tower north wall leading to a simple square doorway. The plain, square boiler chimney lies in the angle between tower and aisle

A shallow external drain runs along the north aisle north wall. Burial vaults may lie beneath the chancel floor. Floor levels were lowered in 1873-4; the floors are suspended over an underfloor void. The boilerhouse is below-ground, with adjacent deep drainage. The blowerhouse floor lies below ground level. External memorials and burial vaults lie significantly close to all walls.

Structural development

The core of the nave walling may be pre-14th century; the form of the aisle piers suggests that they were cut out of existing walls. Stylistically the piers and chancel arch, and thus the aisles and chancel, are 14th century; the symmetrical, lean-to aisles are unique in the county and in South-west Wales are only paralleled at Steynton, Pembs.. The west tower is from the early 16th century. The chancel was partly rebuilt in 1847 when the organ chamber was constructed, originally as a vestry. The boilerhouse was added in the early-mid 20th century, in 1914?.  The blowerhouse is from 1924. There is no physical evidence for any former component beyond the present building.

The church and tower was whitewashed in 1758 (Evans, 1951, 131), the window shutters were repaired and the south side repointed. The church was thatched until 1763 when the roofs were ‘tiled’ (Evans, 1951, 132), and the floors appear to have been of earth as late as 1787 when they were ‘made even’ with earth (ibid.). The church was reseated at the same time.

Some ‘alteration’was undertaken in 1829-31 by Rees Davies of Trewindsor, Llandysul (Cadw, 1996, 6). The west tower was ‘renew’d’ in 1847, commemorated in an inscription over the west door; this work was superficial (limited to the restoration of openings?) but it appears that the chancel was partly rebuilt at around the same period. The present organ chamber was constructed, probably as a vestry, and is shown in a painting of 1859 hanging in the church. The present aisle windows belong to a refenestration that accompanied either this work or the 1829-31 restoration, and the external render is contemporary.

These windows were described as ‘of ugly modern Gothic design’ in 1855 (Glynne, 1898, 352) when the rebuilt chancel retained a ‘plain stone shelf’, now gone, in its east wall and the east window was described as ‘Perpendicular’, possibly original and retained/re-used?. The aisle roofs were an unbroken downwards continuation of the nave roof slopes (NLW, SD/F/288).

The church was restored in 1873-4 to the designs of the architects Middleton and Goodman, of Cheltenham (NLW, SD/F/288). The church was reroofed and reseated. The chancel windows were inserted, the north aisle door was rebuilt, the south aisle door was blocked and replaced with a window, and there was some further refenestration. A number of 1847 windows were retained but their drip-moulds were removed. New roofs were constructed. The church was refloored at a lower level, and reseated. The internal finishes were stripped.

The west tower was repointed in 1870 and further repaired in 1894 (Hughes et al., 1978, 7); the restoration/rebuild of the parapet may belong to the latter date.

The organ was installed in 1899 (Hughes et al., 1978, 9) but in 1914 was moved into the 1847 vestry which was altered accordingly (NLW, SD/F/289). A faculty to build a heating chamber under the organ chamber was granted in 1914 (ibid.) but this was not undertaken; the present boilerhouse north of the tower appears to be somewhat later. The blower house for the organ was added in 1924 (Hughes et al., 1978, 9).

The softwood pews and tower vestry screen, and the oolite pulpit are from 1873-4. (NLW, SD/F/288). The oak stalls and reredos are probably earlier 20th century, as may be the present vestry screen in the north aisle..

The limestone font has an unusual 4-lobed bowl, a cylindrical stem and a square base; it may be 17th century.

The tower contains 4 bells hung in 1777, cast by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester (Hughes et al., 1978,85).

An ECM – ‘The Velvor Stone’ – now lies in the tower, having been moved from the churchyard (Various, 1994, 412).

A moulded crucifix (Anon., 1913, 20), dated to the 11th – 12th centuries (Various, 1994, 415) and built into the tower until recently, is re-used with smaller cross-incised stones in the north aisle altar table.

The church was Grade II* listed in 1998.

First Listed in 1964. Last Amended in 1993.


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

Celtic dedication; ECM; long tradition.

St Tysul, Llandysul, was a parish church during the medieval period (Rees, 1932), of the  medieval Deanery of Sub-Aeron. The living was both a rectory and a vicarage. The vicarage was granted to the resident canons of St Davids Cathedral by Bishop Anselm le Gras, 1231-45 (Hughes et al., 1978, 5) but the patronage was always disputed by Talley Abbey (Evans, 1959, 182-3). By the 14th century the rectory was a possession of the collegiate church of Llanddewi Brefi (Hughes et al., 1978, 5). The church was assessed at £20 in 1291, and in 1536 the rectory had an annual revenue of £15 16s 11d and the vicarage a revenue of £10 annually (ibid.). There were 6 chapels-of-ease within the parish (ibid.).

The rectory fell to the crown at the dissolution, the patronage, in 1547, being granted to Sir James Oucherlong, and ultimately passing, in 1680, to the Master and Fellows of Jesus College, Oxford (ibid.). The patronage of the vicarage remained with the Bishop. In 1833 the rectory was rated in the king’s books at £12 16s 8d, and was still in the patronage of Jesus College (Lewis, 1833). The vicarage was discharged, endowed with £2000 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop (ibid.).

In 1998 St Tysul, Llandysul, was a parish church. The living was a vicarage (Benefice no. 106) in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan, Rural Deanery of Emlyn (St Davids, 1997-8).


 Map Evidence

Blaeu, J., 1648, Map of Cardiganshire.

NLW, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, Second Edition, Sheet XXVII.1.

NLW, Parish of Llandysul, Tithe Map, 1846.

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

Church in Wales Records

Clive-Powell, R., 1995, Quinquennial Report, Llandysul.

St Davids, 1997-8, Diocesan Year Book.

NLW, SD/F/288, Faculty – Alterations to church, 1873.

NLW, SD/F/289, Faculty – New organ chamber and heating apparatus, 1914.

NLW, SD/F/290, Faculty – Memorial tablet, 1916.

NLW, SD/F/291, Faculty – Stained glass window, 1919.

Printed Accounts

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

Anon., 1913, ‘Carved Work in Cardiganshire Churches’, Transactions of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society Vol. I.

Anon., 1914, ‘Carved Work in Cardiganshire Churches’, Transactions of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society Vol. I.

Anon., 1922, ‘Church Restorations’, Transactions of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society Vol. II.

Anon., 1931, ‘Lampeter Meeting’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol LXXXVI, Fifth Series.

Anon., 1970, ‘Field Day’, The Carmarthenshire Antiquary Vol. VI.

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

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. XVIII.

Evans, H. R., 1951, ‘Llandyssul Church: Minute Book of the Vestry and Parish Meetings’, Ceredigion Vol. I No. 2.

Evans, H. R., 1959, ‘Llandyssul in 1857’, The Carmarthenshire Antiquary Vol. III.

Glynne, S. R., 1898, ‘Notes on the Older Churches in the Four Welsh Dioceses’, Archaeol. Cambrensis, Vol. XV, Fifth Series.

Hughes, I. T., Howells, A., and John, I. D., 1978, St Tysul’s Church, Llandysul: A Short History and Guide.

Hughes, I. T., and Jenkins, J. R., 1967, ‘The Church of St Tysul, Llandysul’, Ceredigion Vol. V No. 4.

Jones, M. H., 1907, ‘Carmarthenshire Antiquities’, Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 2.

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