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St Melangell's Church, Pennant Melangell

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Map ReferenceSJ02NW
Grid ReferenceSJ0242226551
Unitary (Local) AuthorityPowys
Old CountyMontgomeryshire
CommunityLlangynog (Powys)
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval

St Melangell's Church, Pennant Melangell, was first founded in the seventh or eight century to serve a community of nuns led by St. Melangell (Monacella). No trace of this nunnery survives, and the original wooden church was replaced by one of stone in the second half of the twelfth century by Rhirid Flaidd. In the years since, it has been subject to numerous re-buildings and restorations.

This church has an eclectic combination of period elements, including a twelfth century Norman font, a chancel and nave roof dating to the fourteenth/fifteenth century, and a tower and belfry dating to the sixteenth and seventeenth, all affected by the extensive restoration of 1876-7 by Benjamin Lay. Most noteworthy, however, is the original shrine of St. Melangell (NPRN 306542), which dates to 1160-70, and is the earliest surviving Romanesque shrine in northern Europe. This was reassembled from fragments during the twentieth century. In addition, the fifteenth century carved rood screen which depicts the foundation myth of the church has been preserved.

In the 1980s the church came under threat of demolition, and funds were raised for a programme of restoration which took place in 1989-92. The sensitive restoration and re-building works were completed using, as far as was possible, original materials. Within the churchyard there is a preaching mound associated with the cult of St. Germanus (NPRN 309733) and a fourteenth century stone cross (NPRN 306541).

Wallpaintings include a painted screen, traces of patterns, blackletter texts in Welsh, a lychgate englyn, Royal Arms of c.1700 and Hanoverian on canvas.There is a benefactions boardof 1779, and the 1791 reredos has Welsh texts and cherubs (Thomas Jones).

Sources include:
RCAHMW Inventory Documents
Cadw Listed Building Record
Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800, (RCAHMW 2021), pp. 57, 89, 128, 130, 248, 266, 266, 300, 302.