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St Lucia's Church, Abernant

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Map ReferenceSN32SW
Grid ReferenceSN3394023120
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCarmarthenshire
Old CountyCarmarthenshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH

St Lucia's Church was a parish church during the medieval period, belonging to the Deanery of Carmarthen. In 1197 the church and its appendent chapel, St Cynwyl's Church, Cynwyl Elfed (NPRN 309900) were illegally granted to Carmarthen Priory by William de Braose. In 1284 the parish were granted to Carmarthen Priory by Maredudd ap Rhys Maredudd, and in 1290 the grant was confirmed by Bishop Bek, St Davids. The church is mentioned in documents of 1291. After the dissolution the advowson fell to the Crown. It subsequently found its way into private patronage. In 1833 the living was a discharged vicarage in the joint patronage of Edward Lawrence st Loc, Esq. and Mr Parr. By this time Cynwyl Elfed had become a parish but was annexed to Abernant Vicarage. In 1998 St Lucia's was a parish church, belonging to the Rural Deanery of Carmarthen. The church is sited within an irregularly shaped curvilinear churchyard, whose north-western boundary is dilineated by a road which curves to accomodate the churchyard. Historic (1889 and 1906) Ordnance Survey mapping depicts a school at the churchyard's north-eastern boundary, at the point where the road curves sharply to the north-west. A dwelling, Ffynnon-wen, some 500m north-north-east of the church, may be the site of an associated holy well. A stream, the Henllan, passes under a bridge some 80m west-south-west of the church.

The church is constucted of limestone and mixed rubble stone and consists of two-bayed nave, two-bayed chancel, west porch, transeptal vestry above boilerhouse. rebuilt west door The chancel is thought to date to the thirteenth century, as is the chancel arch. The nave may also date to this time. A plain square squint to the south and rood loft corbels above the chancel arch are medieval in date. The single cusped lancets with limestone surrounds, in north and south walls, date from the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries (partially rebuilt in 1898-1899). There is a late medieval piscina with triangular head (re-used and rebuilt 1898-1899) under the south window.

The church was restored in 1706 by Ludovicus Davidem, and neo-classical roof trusses with carved braces and a turned king-post, inscribed with this name and date were removed in 1898-1899. The inscription (and cherub's head) on the main tie-beam is considered a rare example of one which was named and dated. It read 'Take heed now for ye Lord hath chosen thee to build an hous for ye Sanctuary: be strong and do it' 'Ye workmen wrought and ye work was perf'ed by theme and they set up ye hous of God in his state and strengthened it' 'W.L. and L.E. Church Wardens. Ludovicus Davidem me ficit' It is not certain whether this is three inscriptions on a single beam, or three separate inscriptions.

The church was restored in the early-mid nineteenth century, when the porch was added, as were three butresses on each of the nave's external side walls. There were two squints present in 1887 and there was a recess in the north chancel wall. There was also a west gallery and a timber screen seperating the nave and chancel. The church was again restored in 1898-1899 to the designs of D. Jenkins, Llandeilo. The porch was rebuilt at this time and the vestry and boilerhouse were added. Although it was reportedly intended to retain the inscribed roof trusses at this time, they were, in fact, removed. The double bellcote was restored and the old bell re-hung. The buttresses were removed and a new one built between the two windows on the south side of the nave.

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

Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800, (RCAHMW 2021), p 235.



application/pdfAWP - Archaeology Wales Project ArchivesArchaeology Wales report no 1384 entitled "Old School, Abernant, Carmarthenshire. Archaeological Watching Brief" prepared for John Anslow by Philip Poucher, August 2015.