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Latitude: 51.6877 / 51°41'15"N
Longitude: -4.2747 / 4°16'29"W
OS Eastings: 242854
OS Northings: 201217
OS Grid: SN428012
Mapcode National: GBR GQ.DNJ7
Mapcode Global: VH3M8.VVG3
Entry Name: Church of St Illtyd
Listing Date: 3 March 1966
Last Amended: 25 November 2003
Source ID: 11872
Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Location: In a large churchyard on the E side of the main square, and immediately S of the A484.
Community: Cefn Sidan
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
Nave and chancel are probably C13. The N aisle and Lady chapel (originally a chantry chapel) are probably C14, although the arcades between them look C15. A chantry chapel is mentioned in 1366. The tower was added at the W end of the aisle in the early C16 and is mentioned in 1552. The nave was later extended by a single bay to the W, abutting the S side of the tower and in its W wall are the jambs of a former W doorway. The nave retains a single late medieval window, probably re-set, and incorporating the arms of the Butler and Beaufort families.
Post-Reformation changes have been numerous. Aisle, chapel and porch roofs are said to be early C17 but are late medieval in style. The S door is dated 1717, perhaps marking refurbishment of the church. The communion rails also appear to belong to this period. Restoration in 1818 may refer to windows in the chancel and chapel, and in the N aisle, that were renewed in wood in 1910-11. Major restoration occurred in 1856, including nave and chancel roofs, and renewal of nave and chancel windows. The present choir stalls were installed in 1868. Another restoration, of 1910-11 by W.D. Caroe, included replacement of wooden-traceried windows, and new furnishings, including pews and pulpit.
A parish church in mainly Tudor-Gothic style, comprising nave, lower and narrower chancel, N aisle with lower Lady chapel, and NW tower. Of rubble stone with slate roofs behind coped gables and with projecting eaves. The 3-bay nave is battered at the base and has a moulded cornice, except to the later W bay. The W bay has a 2-light window, to the R of which is a full-height vertical joint marking the break between phases. To the L of the window is a square memorial tablet commemorating David Griffith (d 1732). The nave has a 3-light Perpendicular W window, beneath the sill of which are embedded stone uprights defining an earlier W doorway. The double gabled W bellcote has openings with elliptical arches.
The lower gabled S porch has double boarded doors to a pointed doorway. Above it is a re-set sundial with gnomon, and a plate dated 1773 by David Thomas. It also records Morgan Morgan and Thomas John as churchwardens. To the R of the porch is a 2-light window, then a 4-light square-headed window with hood mould and relief foliage in sunk spandrels. Below this window is a tablet erected to the memory of Edward Mansell (d 1710).
Areas of roughcast have survived on the chancel S wall, which is battered at the base. It has 2 square-headed 2-light C19 windows with wooden tracery, between which is the arch of a former doorway blocked in 1910. Below it is a memorial slab commemorating the dead of 3 C19 shipwrecks on Cefn Sidan sand. These were the French vessel 'La Jeune Emma' in 1828, one of whose victims was Adeline Coquelin, niece of Napoleon's consort Josephine, 'Brothers' of Liverpool of 1833 and 'Pickering Dodge', of the USA, in 1839. The chancel and Lady chapel form a continuous E elevation, separated by a vertical joint distinguishing the phases. Both have 3-light square-headed windows with wooden tracery. On the N side of the chapel are two 2-light wooden-traceried windows, of which the L-hand has a flat brick arch. The R-hand has a wooden lintel, part removed. The N aisle projects beyond the line of the chapel and has three 2-light wooden-traceried windows under flat brick arches. Above the roof line the creasing of an earlier and steeper aisle roof can be seen in the E wall of the tower.
The fine 4-stage tower has a higher NE square turret. On the W face is a doorway with Tudor arch and continuous chamfer, to a door with vertical ribs. Above it the 2-light square-headed W window has a narrower relieving arch above it. A narrow window is in the 2nd stage, above which is a round clock face to W, S and N faces, inserted in 1935-6. The N and E faces have small windows at 2nd and 3rd stages. The bell stage has 2-light openings with sunk spandrels and louvres, except the S face which has only a single-light opening. The crown, on a corbel table, is composed of stepped battlements.
The porch has an arched-brace roof on corbels. It has stone side benches, a large crudely worked stoup, and a shallow niche above the doorway. The doorway, with plain 2-centred arch, has double doors inserted in 1988, but the earlier door, dated 1717 and incorporating vertical studded ribs, has been retained inside the porch. Above the inner face of the doorway, in the nave, is a small carved head, probably re-set.
The main interior has been stripped of plaster. The nave has a 2-bay N arcade with octagonal pier and 4-centred arches. The arched-brace nave roof is 12 narrow bays. The chancel arch, narrowed but with the earlier arch still visible in the wall, is steeply pointed. To its L is a squint, and to its upper R is a former rood-loft doorway. In the W bay of the nave is a blocked segmental-headed tower window. The SE nave window appears to have been associated with a tomb recess as the embrasure continues to the ground. The relieving arch above a former window can be seen above the present window, however. The window has an ashlar embrasure with finely-moulded rere-arch and its soffit is decorated with arms of Butler and Beaufort families, and a shield bearing the 5 wounds.
The chancel has an arched-brace roof of 6 narrow bays, similar to the nave. It has a 2-bay N arcade, also similar to the nave. A recess is in a former S doorway. The E wall has a simple wood-panelled reredos. To its L is a tiny corbelled rectangular piscina, and an aumbry with pointed head. In the N aisle and the Lady chapel are embossed wagon roofs but not ceiled. A narrow pointed arch is between aisle and chapel. The 2-centred tower arch is continuous with a rendered tunnel vault.
The slender octagonal font is Perpendicular in style, of 1856, with quatrefoils around the bowl. The polygonal wooden pulpit, dated 1911, stands on a narrow bracketed base. Each facet has ogee-headed panels with marginal vine-trail decoration in low relief. Plain pews have moulded square ends. The choir stalls have richer moulded ends and the front rank has an open frieze of quatrefoils in lozenges. The early Georgian communion rail has turned balusters.
There are numerous wall monuments. The recess in the chancel S wall has an oval tablet to Rev Thomas Morgan (d 1817). Memorials to the Rees family of Cilymaenllwyd are in the nave S wall. The best is to John Rees (d 1802), an alabster sarcophagus with inscription, surmounted by a draped urn, on a triangular slate background. Others include slate tablets to John Rees (d 1843), Hector Rees (d 1760) and a brass memorial to Mansel Rees (d 1889). An oval marble tablet also in the S wall commemorates Robert Jones (d 1789).
In the nave W wall are 3 superimposed memorials. At the top, a corbelled marble panel to Anne Miller (d 1861), by Philip Rogers of Swansea, the next a marble panel on slate background, to Udea Onslow (d 1868), also by Rogers, and a less-well preserved slate memorial to Bennet Richards (d ?1748). In the N chapel, starting at the NE end, is a plain large marble panel to Edward Rees (d 1864) and family, on a slate background, by D Joslin of Peckham Rye, then a polished granite memorial to Lt Col David Williams (d 1852). Further L is a plain panel on a slate background, to Capt Benjamin Williams (d 1865), also by Joslin. Below it is a wooden benefaction board.
The E window depicts the Crucifixion, by Horace Wilkinson and dated 1926. The N chapel E window depicts the Nativity, by Celtic Studios of Swansea, but undated. In the nave S wall is Christ and Mary Magdalene, mid C20.
Listed grade II* as a substantial church with prominent late medieval tower, and impressive though stripped interior, including a large number of C18 and C19 monuments.
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