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Church of Saint Cynwyl, Cynwyl Elfed

Description: Church of Saint Cynwyl

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 30 November 1966
Cadw Building ID: 9388

OS Grid Coordinates: 237372, 227507
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9219, -4.3652

Location: Cynwyl Elfed, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire SA33 6TL

Locality: Cynwyl Elfed
County: Carmarthenshire
Country: Wales
Postcode: SA33 6TL

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Listing Text

Situated near the centre of Cynwyl Elfed village NE of Pont Cynwyl just off the A484.

Medieval parish church, possibly C14 in origin, enlarged by addition of N aisle with parallel roof in C15, when also rewindowed. Restored 1863-77 by J P Seddon of London. Restoration was proposed in 1860, the Victoria and Albert Museum has 2 drawings of 1859 by Prichard & Seddon, for the roofs. But in 1862 the firm wrote that though drawings had been made some long time ago, nothing had been done since 5 had been spent in 1857. The National Library plans dated 1863 by Seddon show much of what was done by 1877. Work began under J Pollard of Carmarthen, and included 3 new windows on the nave S, the nave W bellcote and the new roofs. Some 300-400 was spent, but the interior work not begun. By 1870 though, the church was again described as in the last stages of dilapidation, and Mr Pollard, now mentally deranged, had abandoned the work. It is not certain when work actually ceased as the NLW has a revised drawing for the bellcote dated 1871. Work restarted in 1876, and the V&A has drawings dated November 1876 for details: an aisle door, door fittings, and stained glass. The 1860s Bath stone of the S windows and the bellcote had eroded and needed replacement, and the interior was furnished, and coloured and stained glass added, to a cost of 530. The furnishings as executed are simpler than those of the 1863 designs. In 1903 work including reslating and new chancel windows was advertised for tender by David Jenkins of Llandeilo but does not seem to have been carried out. In 1912 David Davies & Son of Penrhiwllan reroofed the nave for 250 after the bellcote had been damaged by lightning. The porch and lean-to vestry are not on Seddon's plans.
A considerable amount of late medieval work survives, including the arcade and most of the windows, which must have been blocked before 1863 as an appeal leaflet refers to there being only one window.

Whitewashed plastered interior with exposed stonework only to the C15 arcade. C19 arch-braced rafter roofs on moulded wallplates. Ashlar Tudor-arched chancel arch on heavy corbels, all apparently C19. Broad 2-bay C15 nave arcade, square pier with chamfered angles and similar responds. No capitals, and roughly segmental or segmental-pointed arches, two-chamfer, the inner chamfer dying into piers. Truncated broach stop to pier chamfers. Broad Bath stone C19 chancel arch, four-centred arch on 2 heavy moulded corbels. Chancel N has C15 single arch to N aisle, lower and more depressed than nave arcade. One step to chancel, one step to sanctuary with c1962 rails and E wall panelling. N aisle has E end screened off for organ and vestry, with additional vestry added to N.
Nave W end eroded pointed piscina to right of door with hexagonal bowl, curved back and cusped head. Small crude stoup to left of nave arcade. Font is medieval heavily retooled: ashlar octagonal with stepped rim over raised band chamfered back to battered sides over roll moulded base, on short octagonal shaft.
Memorials: In chancel, slate plaque to Mary Jones (d 1815); in aisle fossiliferous marble plaque to Eben Jones of Llechsion (d 1851).
Furnishings by Seddon largely in pine. Pews with unusual inset butterfly joints. Pulpit on ashlar base, pitch-pine 3-sided with chamfered-angles and boarded panels. Four stone steps. Plain altar table, simpler than 1863 design. Vestry screen in N aisle 4-bay with pointed arches formed by curved braces, and brattished beam, much less elaborate than 1863 design. Stained glass 3-light E window of remarkable design by Seddon 1876: a cross set against herringbone pattern of clear and stained glass quarries, the cross with 5 roundels of the wounds of Christ: the head, heart, the two hands and the feet, finely drawn, the four terminal roundels pink on black, the centre heart roundel scarlet on black. The other windows have patterned glass in muted colours, also by Seddon.

Anglican parish church, rubble stone with slate roofs, coped gables, ashlar cross finials and crested terracotta ridge tiles. Nave and chancel, and narrower shorter N aisle with separate roof. W end has late C19 porch, crudely built with chamfered pointed sandstone W doorway and C19 plank door. Blocked full-height opening each side, N side with inserted pointed window, S side infilled in red brick.
W bellcote much as 1863 drawing has ashlar corbelled label, stepped 4 times, in gable apex, then battered square base layered in 5 steps, under square main part with plain chamfered pointed opening on all 4 sides, steep gables W and E with trefoils in apex and cross finial on ridge, and smaller gables N and S.
Nave S wall is rebuilt with 3 C19 2-light windows with trefoiled circles in heads. Chancel has one C15 2-light S window, blocked narrow S door with scar of stone voussoirs, and one C15 3-light E window, though E wall looks much rebuilt.
N aisle is a single-roofed range with C15 windows, 3-light to each end and one 2-light to N wall. Another on N wall has been removed for a crude lean-to N vestry, and there is another blocked N opening. W end has low Tudor-arched door with C19 plank door, but stonework possibly C17. All five C15 windows are grey sandstone, flat-headed, recessed with uncusped arched heads to lights and incised spandrels. In porch, C19 3-sided roof and segmental-pointed W door in tooled sandstone, with double board doors.

Reason for Listing
Graded II* as a late medieval church retaining the arcade and most of the windows. Notable also for the C19 restoration by J P Seddon, especially the E window glass.

V Rees, South-West Wales, 1976, pp 32-33: illustrates E window;
M Darby, J.P. Seddon, 1983, pp 19, 23, 54 (listed in error as Cynwyl Gaio);
The Ecclesiologist, 1860, pp 52-3;
Carmarthen Journal: 5/6/1863, 16/9/1870, 17/7/1903;
The Welshman: 10/1/1873, 22/5/1874, 29/5/1874, 31/12/1875, 10/8/1877;
Lambeth Palace ICBS 6040 (1862-77 restoration) and 11116 (1912 repairs);
Victoria & Albert Museum, D.1502, 1503, 1549, 1747 and 1988 -1896;
National Library of Wales, Seddon & Coates Carter plans;
Swansea University Library: Grant Francis F35: appeal leaflet 1864.

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.

Situated near the centre of Cynwyl Elfed village NE of Pont Cynwyl just off the A484.

Source: Cadw

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.