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ST MICHAEL'S CHURCH, CILYCWM

Site Details



NPRN 54184

Map Reference SN74SE

Grid Reference SN7533540029

Unitary (Local) Authority Carmarthenshire

Old County Carmarthenshire

Community Cilycwm

Type of Site CHURCH

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Medieval

Site Description St Michael's Church is situated within a rectilinear churchyard, bounded by the road on its west side, and entered via a lych gate dating to 1858. A pub, the Neuadd Fawr Arms, separates the south-west corner of the churchyard boundary and the road. Ysgoldy Fach (NPRN 17786), a former Sunday school room, is situated against the exterior west churchyard boundary and is entered via the churchyard. St Michael's was a parish church during the medieval period, belonging to the Deanery of Stradtowy. The church may have been founded after 1291. It is first mentioned in documents of 1347. It is also mentioned in documents of 1399 and 1493, at which time the living was a vicarage and rectory in the patronage of St Davids. The living subsequently passed to the Crown.

The church is a Grade I listed building, constructed of local and limestone rubble with purple sandstone (around 1500 and seventeenth century) and grey oolite (earlier nineteenth century and 1906) dressings. It consists of five-bayed nave and chancel, five-bayed south aisle, three-storeyed west tower and below below-ground heating chamber (in angle between tower and south aisle). It is thought that the nave and chancel was entirely rebuilt when the south aisle was constructed around 1500. The south aisle roof may retain some contemorary timbers. An arcade of octagonal piers and single chamfer arches separates the aisle from the nave. The octagonal purple sandstone font (with square base) is contemporary with the south aisle, one of whose arcades was built around it. The tower has an unusual plan, indicative of an early date, but is thought to be contemporary with the nave due to structural evidence. Its turret is entered via the churchyard, through an early fifteenth century opening, with two-centred surround, in its north wall. The tower communicates with the nave via a medieval doorway with two-centred surround (partially rebuilt in 1906). The church was partially refenestrated in the early seventeenth century, and the nave and chancel roof has timbers dating to this time. The church was redecorated in 1724, and it is thought that this included replastering with the present finish. Five wall paintings in the south aisle date from that time. They depict the Royal Arms with initials GR, the Apostles' Creed with Decalogue and figures, biblical texts, a skeleton representing death, and a dedication tablet. The bellframe and windows were repaired between 1833 and 1844. The roofs were reslated at this time, and again in 1859. The exterior walls were also whitewashed. By 1881 the tower had a heating stove with flue. Before the 1906 restoration the church had two nineteenth century windows in the nave and chancel north wall. The south aisle's west window was described as modern. The aisle's medieval windows were noted, although one was a copy of the original. It is also noted that the floor had been raised using loam and human bones. The church was restored in 1906, to the designs of W.D. Caroe. The north wall of the nave and chancel was completely refenestrated, and its east and south windows rebuilt. The south door was added, and the west door given a new surround. The floor was excavated and the soil removed, before reflooring. The church was reseated and the roofs were repaired. Internal plaster was removed, revaling the wall painting. The heating chamber was excavated. The stalls, pews, pulpit and south aisle screens date to this time.

Sources include:
Cadw, Listed Buildings Database
Cambria Archaeology, 2000, Carmarthenshire Churches, gazetteer, 48

N Vousden 22 April 2013

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