Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Llanover
Description: Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Date Listed: 1 September 1956
Cadw Building ID: 2782
OS Grid Coordinates: 335587, 208684
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7727, -2.9337
Location: Llanover, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 9BG
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There is also a scheduled monument, St. Mary's Churchyard Cross, Llanfair Cilgedyn, at the same location as this building or very close to it. This may be related in some way or possibly a different name for the same structure.
In a remote location close to the river Usk just over 1.5km north-east of the hamlet at Pant-y-goitre and reached along a by-road. Fine open churchyard, with beside the path, four later C19 headstones to Lindsay family members.
Simple medieval church, possibly mid to late C14, probably partly re-windowed in the C15, repaired in the C17, and largely rebuilt in 1873-6 by J D Sedding, the distinguished Arts and Crafts architect of London. Scheme of interior decoration 1888-90 by Heywood Sumner of the Art Workers' Guild, who executed the large and colourful sgraffito panels inside. The church was made redundant in 1982 and was in a state of decay when listed in 1986. It has since been repaired 1986-8, engineer Brian Morton, and taken into care by the Friends of Friendless Churches.
The interior retains a probably late medieval pointed timber wagon roof with a net of ribs and bosses to chancel; Victorian 4-bay arched brace nave roof with wall plates, two tiers of purlins and secondary rafters with ashlars; low chancel arch. Furnishings include medieval stained-glass fragments in the north chancel window; good mural tablets (incorporated into sgraffito panels); timber pulpit of 1875; chancel screen with some medieval woodwork and early C20 crucifix on rood beam; Victorian chancel tiles, reredos, stained-glass etc. Late medieval hexagonal font with cover, second font possibly Norman, the other furnishings and the tiled pavements are Sedding.
The remarkable feature of the church is the complete scheme of coloured sgraffito panels of extremely rare technique and of exceptionally bold quality commissioned by the Revd. Williams J C Lindsay in memory of his wife (died 1885). The cycle of subjects illustrates the 'Benedicte' with mountain and pastoral images, ploughed fields, all green things, the fowls of the air, beasts and cattle, the children of men, winged winds, winter and summer, the heavens etc. The west wall has figures representing the child authors of the 'Benedicte' with Gloria Patri figures over the west door. Over the chancel arch is a figure of Christ in Glory in a Mandorla. The chancel has Evangelist figures and angels combined with the Adoration and the Annunciation in stained-glass.
Built with coursed and squared red sandstone rubble facings, ashlar dressings, natural slate roofs with ridge tiles. Nave with south porch and bellcote on west gable; lower chancel with north vestry.
The nave has a strong batter to the base of the walls. The external masonry is largely post-medieval above cill level on the south side, three bays with the added porch with moulded arch and pitched roof in the first bay; two Victorian 3-light windows with cusped heads and dripmoulds; small 2-light south window of c1875, date of pulpit within, which it lights. Steeply pitched roof with stone coped gables with crucifix finial and twin west bellcote with weathervane and cusped oculi. North nave windows and walling are largely late medieval; a 3-light and two 2-light Perpendicular ones with traceried heads and dripmoulds, the westerly one is Victorian. West gable front and bellcote, with south-west quoins dated 1634 and 1664, largely rebuilt by Sedding, in red sandstone ashlar with paler banding. Plain pointed west door with chamfered frame; pointed 2-light Decorated style window above with cusped heads and dripmould.
The chancel has on the south side a small priest's door with moulded jambs and a large 4-light Perpendicular window with recessed moulded frame. This seems partly old but is in largely rebuilt walling. East gable mainly rebuilt with Decorated style 3-light window by Sedding; this has quatrefoils in the head and a dripmould. The 2-light plate tracery north window of the chancel is medieval; gabled north vestry with ashlar chimney in Sedding style and 3-light cusped headed window with dripmould.
Reason for Listing
Listed grade I for its special interest as a medieval church sensitively restored by J.D.Sedding, which has a remarkable series of sgraffito panels by Heywood Sumner. This complete decorative scheme is exceptionally important as one of a very small number of examples in the UK of a technique derived ultimately from Roman antiquity via the Renaissance, and revived in the 1870s.
Victorian Society Report of Spring 1986.
Church guidebook (n.d.).
Peter Howell, 'Winds and Whales', Country Life, December 7th, 1989
John Newman, The Buildings of Wales, Gwent/Monmouthshire, Penguin Books, 2000, p284.
Rev. C.K.Smith, The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin: The Sgraffito work of Heywood Sumner, n.d. National Monuments Record, Aberystwyth.
Sir Joseph Bradney, A History of Monmouthshire, The Hundred of Abergavenny, Part II, 1906, reprinted 1994, Llanvair Kilgeddin..
Glamorgan/Gwent Archaeological Trust : Monmouthshire Churches Project, Cadw..
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.Notes:
In a remote location close to the river Usk just over 1.5km north-east of the hamlet at Pant-y-goitre and reached along a by-road. Fine open churchyard, with beside the path, four later C19 headstones
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.