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St Cynwyd's Church, Llangynwyd

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Map ReferenceSS88NE
Grid ReferenceSS8572088830
Unitary (Local) AuthorityBridgend
Old CountyGlamorgan
CommunityLlangynwyd Middle
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval

St Cynwyd's Church, Llangynwyd, the church and village is probably of early origin, reputedly of the C6, St Cynwyd Cynwydion being a little known saint of the congregation of Cattwg, son of Cynfelyn ap Garthwys. The present building of the C14 incorporates fragments in the porch of the previous building of the C13, and was itself extensively restored by G E Halliday of Cardiff in 1891-3, the cost of £3,000 being funded by Miss Olive Talbot of Margam Castle. The restoration removed the curious bridge gallery in the nave. An inscription formerly recorded on the chancel wall plate denotes an earlier restoration of 1688, when 3 windows were put in the S wall and the roof replaced.

Built of coursed Pennant sandstone, with some limestone and igneous rock intrusions, and with a slate roof. It consists of a nave with W tower, a S porch of 1893, and a C14 chancel, largely rebuilt in the C19. The tower has a pilaster stair in the SE corner, and the nave has a widening for the former rood stair on the N side. Single C14 trefoil-headed lights to the chancel, reset or the walling refaced, but twin ogee-headed window lights on the S side of the sanctuary. An stone panel, inscribed to Dafydd Richard is set in the S wall and a weathered stone head is set above the filleted roll moulded C14 priest's door. Two-light C19 window on the N side and 3-light E window. The nave has two ogee headed windows on the N, but large C19 2 and 3-light cusped windows on the S with labels and carved mask dropped terminals. Two C19 cinquefoil lancets W of the porch, between which is reset a sundial inscribed E P MEDEDIT / DE TONDY 1686. The iron gnomon is missing. The gabled porch, of Quarella stone, has the date 1893 and monogram of Olive Talbot carved on fleuron shields in the bold casement moulding, which rises to an ogee peak above which is a nodding-ogee niche containing the limestone figure of St Cynwyd. The tower has 1 tall stage including the bell chamber above the moulded plinth, quoined for part of its height only, and set back above two string courses, the upper carrying the crenellated parapet with crocketed square pinnacles at the corners. A large C19 4-light window is set above the wave-moulded W door, which has heart moulding stops and a bold hood.

The nave is covered by a late C19 arch-braced collar roof, the principals rising from wall posts on stone corbels. Rere-arches with fleurons to the C19 windows and the E window has nook shafts. The C19 chancel arch is set on impost corbels, and has two C14-C15 quatrefoils to either side above. The C15 tower arch is tall, of two chamfered orders, rising from the floor level raised 3 steps above the nave. The interior of the tower has a shallow stone barrel vault. The door to the tower stair opens from the S side of the nave. A door to the former rood stair on the N side of the nave, with the gallery opening above. The chancel is of generous width; 3 roof bays, also arch-braced, and 2 moulded purlins. A stone cornice is enriched with rectangular leaves. Remarkably rich encaustic floor tiles. Three steps rise to the altar. Fittings: A dado of panelled oak set across the E wall. The wooden reredos is delicately carved and painted, including a representation of St Cynwyd holding a model of the church, restored 1984. Low wrought iron chancel screen. Oak octagonal pulpit. Plain octagonal limestone font, tapering to a square base, probably medieval. At the rear of the church, 4 late medieval oak pews (a fifth is in the National Museum of Wales). Also an oak parish chest. The six tower bells, by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, 1730, were recast and hung in a new frame in 1893 and rehung again in 1953. Glass: E window an Ascension of 1893 by A Saville of London, tower W window, and grisaille in the N and S windows.

Monuments: A good collection of wall monuments. In the nave N side, from the W: (a) incised tapered stepped cross with a crude representation of a chalice at the side, late medieval to C17; (b) Bas relief triple crosses joined with a semi-circle at the base, all raised on a stepped base, similar date; (c) small relief cross pattee, inscribed to Mary Powel, 1671; these found built in to the walls when restoration took place. (d) sandstone wall slab with semicircular top stone, to William Hopcyn, d.1707; (e) Large wall tablet with fluted side pilasters, cornice and urn in semicircular top, to Hopkin Hopkin, d. 1742 and numerous other family members to 1945; (f) Smaller stone tablet with incised fluted pilasters, urn in crest, to Ann ab Gwillim Treharn, both d. 1814; (g) slab with skull and cross bones in a raised crest, to Jenkin Griffith, d.1909; (h) white marble tablet on slate, to David Thomas, d. at Ypres, 1917, etc; (i) Carrara marble sacophagus tablet on slate, to Evan Rees of Gadlys Factory, d. 1923; (j) Marble tablet on slate, crosses at corners, to Catherine Maddock, d.1922; (k) Incised stone inscribed ME.1616 WT.1596 / MM.1608. Also two brasses.

On the S nave wall: (l) tablet commemorating the renovation of the tower in 1931, and (m) a tablet commemorating the Bryncynon Bequest, also after 1931. Also 3 brasses. In the chancel, S wall, (n) a simple slate tablet engraved to Richard Penril Llewelyn, vicar 1841-1891, and his wife; (o) Elegant sarcophagus tablet in marble set against black stone, to Jenkin Thomas Jenkins of Gelly, d.1876. One brass. Also, set in the floor, the famous black grave slab with an inserted brass, a later memorial to Ann Thomas, 'y ferch o Gefn-ydfa'. Under the tower is a series of 6 gravestones of the C17 on, brought in for protection, including those of Ann Thomas and Wil Hopcyn. In the porch, fragments of the earlier building, including a C13 column base secondarily used as a sharpening stone, and a moulding.

A fragment of the painted rood screen was found in a putlog hole during restoration, and other paintings of ‘religious subjects’ were discovered during the 1892. These are now destroyed but included a depiction of Moses and Aaron.

Sources include:
Cadw listed building database
Daily Graphic 12.11.1892
F. Evans, Tir Iarll (1912), p. 43
RCAHMW Wallpaintings Database. 2004.09.13/RCAHMW/SLE
Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800, (RCAHMW 2021), pp. 19, 73, 77, 78.