Cwmyoy – St Martin’s Church


   Construction of the church of St. Martin in Cwmyoy probably began in the 12th century, but in the 13th century it was significantly enlarged. Probably not long after the erection, due to the land subsidence, the tower and chancel began to tilt in opposite directions, which led to numerous renovations trying to remedy the collapse of the building. Victorian reconstruction from 1887 added buttresses to the nave and chancel and to the tower. Further renovations took place in 1991.


   The church was built on the slope of a hill inclined south towards the Honddu River. Originally it consisted of a long, rectangular nave, to which in the 13th century a narrower and shorter rectangular chancel was added from the east and a four-sided tower on the west side, with three floors, a parapaet and battlement. In the 14th century, a porch was built in front of the southern entrance portal to the nave. The original windows of the church were very small, probably semicircular and splayed, and some resembled slit openings (north-west opening in the nave). In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, pointed windows were already used, filled with trefiol tracery, like the eastern double window in the chancel. Inside, the nave and the chancel were separated by a slightly pointed arcade, and both parts were topped with an open timber roof truss.

Current state

   Due to the unstable ground, the chancel and the church tower were tilted in opposite directions (the tower is inclined up to 1.8 meters from the vertical), which forced the building to be strengthen with early modern buttresses. The oldest window from the twelfth-thirteenth century has been preserved in the nave on the north-western side, the window on the south-eastern side comes from the 13th-14th century, and the three-light central window of the southern wall, probably from the sixteenth century. A two-light window in the eastern wall of the chancel was created in the fourteenth century. The interior due to the tilts has an unusual appearance, the floor is uneven, the corners of the walls do not have straight angles, and the ceiling is twisted. Despite the problems with statics, in the church has survived the medieval roof truss. Inside the nave there is also a stone cross from the thirteenth century with a sculptured Christ with an unusual cap with three crosses.

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Salter M., The old parish churches of Gwent, Glamorgan & Gower, Malvern 2002.

Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website, St Martin’s church, Cwmyoy.
Website, St Martin’s Church, Cwmyoy.