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St Michael's Church, Llanfihangel y Creuddyn

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Map ReferenceSN67NE
Grid ReferenceSN6650076050
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCeredigion
Old CountyCardiganshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval
St Michael's Church is situated within a curvilinear churchyard, whose south-western boundary is delineated by a stream, and eastern boundary is delineated by the road through Llanfihangel y Creuddyn village (NPRN 33047). According to local tradition, the church was constructed in 1268. The church is first mentioned in documents of the thirteenth century. It was then known as Lanfihangel Kilvireth and was a chapelry in the Deanery of Ultra-Aeron, in the possession of the Bishops of St Davids. The church is referrred to as Llanfihangel Gelyndrod on its chalice dating to 1751. By 1833 Llanfihangel y Creuddyn was a parish, with the living a dicharged vicarage in the patronage of the Bishop of St Davids. The church was among the last in Ceredigion to keep its Christmas morning plygain service, which was held for the last time in 1960. The church also has its own carol, 'Trigolion Llanfihangel', written in 1805 by the then curate, David Rowlands.

The church is a Grade II* Listed Building, constructed of local rubble stone with Forest of Dean sandstone dressings (from 1871). It consists of two-bayed chancel, central three-storeyed tower (with one bell), three-bayed nave, transeptal vestry (north of chancel west bay), south porch and below-ground boilerhouse. The nave, chancel, transepts and crossing are thought to date from the thirteenth-fourteenth century. A small octagonal bowl lying loose in the church may be the medieval font bowl. The tower is thought to be fifteenth-century in date. The boarded barrel ceilings over the nave and chancel date from around 1500. A south porch was present by 1847. The church was restored in 1871, when the porch was rebuilt. No dressed stonework, doorways or windows survived the restoration. The current octagonal, oolite font is nineteenth-twentieth-century in date. The vestry has yellow oolite dressings and was added in 1905. There is a blocked fireplace in its south-east corner. The church was renovated in 1933 and the boilerhouse may date from this time. The reredos behind the alter dates from the end of the Fist World War, and was carved from Austrian oak by Jules Bernaerts, Belgium. It was commissioned by Dr and Mrs Roberts, Penywern. The church was again renovated in 1989.

Sources include:
Cambria Archaeology, 2000, Ceredigion Churches, gazetteer, 48

N Vousden, RCAHMW, 30 July 2014


Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn church is a highly significant historic building in Wales as one of very few complete medieval churches of cruciform plan with a central tower. The church was built in the thirteenth century and is characteristically plain but dignified. The tower preserves its historic character which has often been lost elsewhere through over-restoration in the nineteenth century. There were two other cruciform churches in Ceredigion, at Llanbadarn Fawr and Llanddewibrefi, and both were former monastic centres. Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn was a secular settlement and the ambitious character of the church probably derives from its associations with the Welsh lords of the commote of Creuddyn; the settlement at Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn was a commotal centre and still has the unusual (for Ceredigion) character of a nucleated village.
Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn retains its medieval character largely intact. The thirteenth-century cruciform plan (lost at Llanddewibrefi) has been retained but we now know that in the early sixteenth century there was an ambitious and prolonged building programme to reroof the church and refit the tower. Earlier this year the Commission funded and undertook tree-ring dating (dendrochronology) of the nave and transept roofs and the tower. This showed that the nave roof was replaced with an expensive and fashionable wagon roof between 1502-28. (This date may be refined with further exploration of the nave roof.) The reflooring of the tower followed with the installation of a new bell-frame for a peal of bells. The timber for the bell-frame was felled in 1537-8 on the very eve of the Reformation when most church building had stopped. The sixteenth-century work at Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn church is important as it preserves one of the last demonstrations of pre-Reformation piety in Wales.

Notes for a statement of significance/RFS/RCAHMW/May 2019

[Additional:] Tree-ring dating commissioned by RCAHMW in 2019. Results to be published in Vernacular Architecture 2019, List 311:
1. LLANFIHANGEL-Y-CREUDDYN, Church of St Michael and All Angels (SN 6650 7605)
(a) Nave and transept roofs Felling date range: 1501?14 (Oxcal; unrefined 1499?1524)
(b) Tower Felling date range: 1518?37 (Oxcal; unrefined 1517?44)
(c) Bell frame Felling date: c. 1537?8
(a) Principal rafters (4/6) 1477(8), 14872(h/s, h/s), 1491(h/s); Plate (0/1); (b) Beams (2/2) 1487(1?18NM), 1509(h/s); (c)
Brace 1515(2); Posts (3/3) 1498(h/s), 1500(h/s), 1536(33?1CNM); Plate (0/1); Site Master LYCCt8 1408?1536 (t?9.7
This cruciform church with central tower is the best surviving of three such churches in Ceredigion. St Michael's
first appears in the historical record in the thirteenth century, with local tradition giving 1268 as its year of consecration
but, as was common throughout Wales, the church underwent a sustained campaign of works in the early
sixteenth century to upgrade the roof and refit the tower, including a new bell frame. Fashionable wagon roofs
replaced the earlier roofs to the nave and transepts (a); convex mouldings decorate the principal trusses and purlins,
with floral bosses adorning the joints. The tower timbers are slightly later than those of the nave (b). The bell
frame (c) is of the king-post type common in Wales and is particularly notable for its use of Arabic numerals; it is
presumably contemporary with the tower beams. The dates demonstrate that work at St Michael's was continuing,
despite this being a period of uncertainty within the Church as a result of the Reformation. Description in Thomas
Lloyd et al., The Buildings of Wales: Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion (London, 2006), 517. NPRN 105145.