Llanfair ar y Bryn – St Mary’s Church

History

   The church was erected in the first half of the 12th century on the site of a former Roman fort from which some materials for construction were taken. At the end of the thirteenth century, the building was extended to the east, enlarged by the southern chapel, and then in the fourteenth century by the porch and at the end of the fifteenth century, by the western tower. In 1790 the chapel was in ruin and probably soon it was pulled down. In the mid-nineteenth century, the sacristy was erected and the windows were rebuilt. Their next modernization took place in 1880, and then the porch was transformed. Fortunately, at the beginning of the 20th century, the church was professionally renovated, which, among other things, restored late medieval windows.

Architecture

   The church consists of an eight-bay, rectangular nave and a chancel, which is not separated externally from the church’s corpus. Inside, during the Middle Ages, both parts were separated by a rood screen. West side of the church is dominated by a four-storey tower from the 15th century, which is very large, for a rural building. It is topped with a battlement and has a communication turret in the south-eastern corner. A porch was added to the south wall of the nave. The church also originally had a northern transept and a chapel from the late 13th century on the southern side. The northern transept was probably removed in the 13th century to make space for a niche, containing a tombstone. Also in the 13th century, the chancel floor was raised and leveled with the nave floor.

Current state

   The present church in Llanfair is the result of numerous transformations already carried out in the Middle Ages and continued into the early modern era, especially during the nineteenth-century renovations. Until today, the southern chapel has not survived, after which the bricked-up arcade is visible and the northern transept, while the sacristy is an early modern building. In the southern wall of the nave, a single, small window from the 12th or 13th century and a similar one on the north side are preserved. A few of 15th-century openings have also survived, including in the eastern wall.

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bibliography:
Salter M., Abbeys, priories and cathedrals od Wales, Wolverhampton 2012.
Salter M., The old parish churches of South-West Wales, Wolverhampton 2003.

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Mary. A Grade I Listed Building in Llandovery, Carmarthenshire.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Mary’s church, Llanfair ar y Bryn.