Llanfilo – St Bilo’s Church

History

   Founded in the 12th or 13th century in Llanfilo, the church carry the call of the local Saint Bilo or Beilo, but was also known under the call of Saint Milburg, daughter of the king of Mercia from the 7th century. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, church was rebuilt and enlarged. Early modern modernizations took place around 1680 (large south window), and then in 1710, when the chancel was rebuilt. In the nineteenth century, the western part of the building, which was used as a school room, was blocked. The western tower was also rebuilt at that time. The church was thoroughly renovated at the beginning of the 20th century.

Architecture

   At the end of the Middle Ages, the church consisted of a rectangular, elongated nave and a narrower, lower and shorter chancel on the eastern side. On the west side, a low tower was placed (perhaps not completed in the Middle Ages), and the southern entrance portal was protected by a porch since the 15th century. Inside, the nave was covered with a timber, barrel-shaped roof truss from the 15th century, made of 54 moulded ribs. The chancel was similarly crowned, separated from the nave by a wooden rood screen. It had an upper loft, accessible by stairs placed in the thickness of the northern projection.

Current state

   Despite the early modern modernizations, the church has preserved a 15th-century roof truss to this day, both over the nave and the chancel. The late-medieval rood screen separating the nave from the presbytery has also survived and was renovated in the years 1926-1930. Early modern changes were limited to piercing a large window in the southern wall of the nave, installing a new helmet of the tower and placing a 17th-century pulpit and pews inside.

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bibliography:
Salter M., The old parish churches of Mid-Wales, Wolverhampton 1997.

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Bilo A Grade I Listed Building in Felin-fach (Felin-fâch), Powys.
Website cpat.demon.co.uk, Church of St Bilo , Llanfilo.