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ST JOHN'S CHURCH;ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, YSPYTTY-CYNFYN;YSBYTY CYNFYN

Site Details


NPRN 400479

Map Reference SN77NE

Grid Reference SN7524479096

Unitary (Local) Authority Ceredigion

Old County Cardiganshire

Community Blaenrheidol

Type of Site CHURCH

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Medieval, 19th Century, Post Medieval

Site Description St John's Church is situated within a curvilinear churchyard some 40m north of the Nant Ysbytty Cynfun. The churchyard has three large standing stones set into the southeast curve of its boundary, which may represent the remains of a prehistoric stone circle. It has also been suggested that the stones, first recorded in 1833, were placed here as a nineteenth-century folly. The church was not a parish church during the medieval period, but was a chapel of ease to Llanbadarn Fawr in the Deanery of Ultra-Aeron, serving the parish of Llanbadarn y Creuddyn. The church may have been a posession of the Knights Hospitaller, but an alternative association with Strata Florida has also been suggested. In 1833 the living was a perpetual curacy in the patronage of the local landowners. In 1998 the church was still a chapel of ease. The churchyard has several iron-railed burial enclosures and some well-lettered slate tombs and headstones. A number of graves have the remains of patterned stone cobbling. In 1903 the church was noted to posess the inalienable right of electing its own minister by popular vote. Churchwardens would convene a vestry to receive nominations and if more than one candidate was nominated, an election would be arranged, at which only 'rated inhabitants' were allowed to vote. The polling would take place within the church building, but the result would be announced outside its precincts. It was also noted that, in the nineteenth century, a yearly athletics contest would be held within the church. The benches would be removed and the church would be open all night, with parishioners competeing at skills such as wrestling and 'casting of the barre'. The main spectators were, reportedly, young women and former champions.

The form of the pre-nineteenth-century church is not known.

The current church was constructed in 1827, on the same site and in the same location as its predecessor, but possibly to a larger plan and retaining nothing from the earlier fabric. The church is constructed from local rubble-stone with grey oolite dressings. It consists of three-bayed nave and chancel, south porch and single west bellcote. The church has two fonts, one later nineteenth century of Bath Stone, octagonal. The other is an extraordinary nineteenth century wooden font, possibly an exhibition piece of c.1850-60, which has an octagonal wooden bowl with boxwood pointed panels in surrounds with crockets and column shafts and an octagonal base with eight scroll feet with lion heads. Inside is a papier-mâché shallow dish. The font cover is flat with delicate relief stippling and a centre handle of a figure carrying a cross entwined with a snake and acanthus finial. The church was restored in 1910, at which time the external cement render was added.

Sources include:
Cadw, Listed Buildings Database
Cambria Archaeology, 2000, Ceredigion Churches, gazetteer, 4
Eyre-Evans, G., 1903, Cardiganshire and its Antiquities

N Vousden, RCAHMW, 2014

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