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Latitude: 51.569 / 51°34'8"N
Longitude: -3.5899 / 3°35'23"W
OS Eastings: 289903
OS Northings: 186765
OS Grid: SS899867
Mapcode National: GBR HC.DCQY
Mapcode Global: VH5H4.QTJL
Entry Name: Church of St David, Bettws
Listing Date: 30 July 1997
Last Amended: 30 July 1997
Source ID: 18626
Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Location: Situated on the hilltop at the centre of the village which became the core of a post-war estate development.
Community: Garw Valley
Traditional County: Glamorgan
The church may have an early medieval origin, the dedication to St David being later, and the original churchyard boundary roughly circular; this building is believed to date from C12 and is probably identifiable in a charter of the Bishop of Llandaff who died in 1183. Substantially remodelled in C15-C16. Until 1885 a curacy of Newcastle, together with Laleston and Tythegston with revenues paid first to Tewkesbury Abbey and from C13 to Margam Abbey. Bettws was within the boundaries of Tir Iarll held by the Lords of Glamorgan and was a literary centre in the later Middle Ages, with two named C15 poets, Dafydd Fychan and Llewelyn Goch y Dant, living in the parish. Church was restored and extended by addition of N aisle by G Halliday in 1893, the work paid for by Miss Olive Talbot of Margam.
Church plan is medieval nave surmounted by W bellcote, S porch, slighly lower and narrower chancel and C19 N aisle and NE vestry. Nave, chancel and S porch built of rubble with ashlar dressings; bellcote wholly of ashlar; C19 build of rockfaced sandstone with ashlar dressings; clay tiled roof with apex crosses. Exceptional square W bellcote at W end of nave stands on a shallow stone base supported W by corbels, with square headed openings N,E and S and stone louvres W; gargoyles on each upper corner and a corbelled base to a pyramidal roof, surmounted by a fish weathervane; it reputedly houses 2 bells of 1891; plain W wall; NW aisle window of 2 lights. S porch has pointed arched doorway with double chamfer and niche above, prominent quoins, kneelers and saddle back coping; weather coursing of earlier roof visible. SW nave has small two cusped light square headed window dated 1893, with rectangular eaves light above and to left a small wall monument with fleur de lys motif and illegible inscription; SE nave has one window of 4 arched lights and one of 2 square headed lights under square hood moulds; battered plinth. Chancel has N priest's door, single light SE window, 3 light E window with perp tracery. N aisle and vestry have single light windows with cusped heads, hoodmoulds, face stops and N door; a circular quatrefoil E window of N aisle clears flat vestry roof which is disguised by a deep cornice and false gable at E with arched entrance door beneath.
Porch has one original roof truss, marks on stone benches reputedly made by sharpening weapons, planked door with metal fittings to arched doorway, niche to right. Nave of 5 bays has arch braced roof of which 3 trusses are original with carved wooden bosses and corbels depicting the Instruments of the Passion; unusual stone holy water stoup near door is a 4-sided basin on 4 detached shafts which were added in 1893. C19 N aisle has 3 bays of pointed moulded arches defined by bands of voussoirs, half round shafts and narrow foilage capitals. Wide moulded pointed chancel arch with face stops, the full width of the chancel, also dates from the restoration; remains of rood loft demolished then to make room for N aisle but stump survives below S window. Three bay chancel retains its medieval trusses, priest's door on N wall; C13 piscina in S wall of sanctuary; recess in N wall possibly an aumbry. Tall segmental pointed W tower arch; Norman tub font and base; most unusual painted wooden monument to John Bradford 1690-1780 who lived at Y Pandy or Bradford Cottages near Plas-y-Betws, a weaver, fuller and dyer who also became a prominent figure in the Glamorgan Literary Renaissance of C18, became president of Gorsedd of Bards 1760, and was teacher of Iolo Morgannwg; a widow's hatchment from the same family depicting 3 stags hangs in vestry; John Bradford was buried in churchyard near S side of church but grave no longer identifiable. A number of C18 and later wall monuments in church include some to well known local families such as the Trahernes and to Rees Price (d 1723) a Calvinistic preacher and father of Richard Price of Tynton.
Listed Grade I for the special importance of its W bellcote, its mostly surviving medieval fabric including important woodwork, and a range of furnishings of special interest.
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