Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Church of St Stephen and St Tathan (Tatheus)  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
In the centre of Caerwent village.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

This church appears to be C13 in origin although a pre-Norman church is recorded at Caerwent, also a possible early Christian congregation during the Roman period; but there is no evidence that either of these shared the same site as the present church. The chancel and the chancel arch are Early English in character and therefore probably of the C13 in origin, but much rebuilt in the restoration of 1851. The main body of the church was rebuilt probably in the late C15 or early C16, and the porch and the tower were probably also built at that time, although the porch would appear to have been added to the nave. The church was restored in 1851 when the chancel arch and north wall were rebuilt and the east wall refaced; and again in 1910-12 by G E Halliday of Cardiff when the long demolished south aisle was reconstructed. The organ and north nave window glass are memorials to WWI. The west tower window is a memorial to WWII and dates from 1947. The vestry is said to date from 1968 and the tower and south aisle were repaired following a lightning strike in 1974.  

The church consists of nave, separate (weeping) chancel, south aisle, west tower with an external stair-turret to the south, two storey north porch, and vestry, one bay of which serves as an organ chamber, which forms the south chancel aisle. The church is constructed mainly in local, fine-grained grey and red limestones, with Bath stone dressings, but sandstone has been used for most of the dressings of the chancel, and the north and west walls of the nave and the north wall of the porch are constructed in Bath stone ashlar. The roofs are all of Welsh slate type (some are possibly artificial) except, probably, for the top of the tower (unseen) which will be lead. The nave is built of dressed squared stone with the porch projecting on the north wall. This has a pointed arch doorway with a 2-light window with cusped trefoil heads in the gable above; this once lit the parvice, but the floor has been long removed and the porch is open to the roof, which is a late medieval arch braced collar truss type. The porch is flanked to the right by a 3-light Perpendicular window with cusped heads and on the left by a 3-light arched Perpendicular window with dripmould over. Steeply pitched roof with coped east gable with apex cross. The south wall is almost entirely hidden by the south aisle. The chancel has two trefoil headed lancets on the east wall with corner buttresses on either side. Coped gables with apex cross. The north wall has three similar lancets with a corner buttress, all these are of 1851. The south wall is wholly hidden by the chancel aisle except for the corner buttress. The roof is slightly more steeply pitched than the nave and meets it at a slightly lower level. The south chancel aisle (vestry and organ chamber) is of three bays divided by buttresses with offsets. Each bay has a plain 2-light window with Caernarvon head. Doorway in east wall, chimney through the roof. The nave south aisle is of four bays divided by buttresses with offsets. Each bay has a 3-light window with cusped heads and with the head reaching nearly to the eaves. Low pitch roof which meets the nave wall about a metre below the eaves. Two stage west tower of two tall stages divided by a string course and with an octagonal stair turret on the south east corner. The tower is of roughly coursed rubble with dressed quoins and with a slightly battered dressed base. West door with 3-centred arch with two rolls and one hollow mould, above this is a 3-light Perpendicular window with dripmould over, probably all dating from 1947. Narrow door to stair turret. String courses at half door height and at window cill level. There are small windows on the north and south walls to light the ringing chamber. The second (bell) stage has a 2-light window on each wall, the windows are recessed within the wall surface and have decorated heads and fretted infill. Clock on north face below the bell window; this is a memorial to The Rev W Coleman Williams (Vicar of Caerwent 1910-33) and was added in 1934. Above the bell stage is another string course with a castellated parapet and corner gargoyles above and the top of the stair turret which itself rises to a castellated parapet.  

The interior is rough, unplastered stone with the chancel whitewashed. The stonework features have great variety, the east windows of the chancel and one of the north windows of the nave has a medieval rere-arch, while the chancel arch was probably reconstructed in the 1851 restoration when the north wall of the chancel was rebuilt. The 3-bay nave arcade is medieval but is a fairly crude cutting through and facing up of a previously solid wall. The easternmost arch was probably reconstructed when the then closed up arches were reopened with the rebuilding of the demolished south aisle in 1910-12. The stilted segmental arches in the south wall of the chancel are presumably C16 but were noted as being blocked in 1851. These were partly re-opened when the south chancel aisle was rebuilt. The nave roof is a Victorian C16 style waggon roof with small ribs. The chancel roof is of 3-bays, the easternmost one is of similar type to the nave but with bosses, all are arch braced collars, with two tiers of purlins and common rafters to the other two bays. Both roofs date from the 1851 restoration. The south aisle roof is a plain lean-to type from 1910. The porch has a late medieval arch braced collar roof. There is a small pointed arch doorway to the parvice stair. An empty statue niche with a trefoil head is over the main door which is a pointed arch with five fillets and a dripmould, this last presumably indicates that the porch was an addition. The furnishings are mostly from the 1851 restoration with plain benches, a brass lectern in Gothic style and an oak pulpit dated 1632 on a panelled Victorian stone base; this last was given to the church by Sir Charles Williams of Llangibby. There are two fonts, only the first, that by the door, is native to this church. It is a re-cut Norman tub on a baluster pedestal, probably early C18 in its present form. The second font in the south aisle is also Norman in origin, but has been introduced to this church from the destroyed church at Dinham about 2km to the north of Caerwent. It is a tub type on an unrelated plain base. The organ was installed as a memorial of WWI in 1928. The glass in the north nave window is also a memorial to WWI. There is said to be a single bell (unseen) dated 1861. The altar dates from 1965 and was designed by George Pace, including the communion rail, candlesticks and hanging cross. There are also a number of Roman antiquities, some loose and some built in, including an altar dedicated to Mars in AD 152. Some of these are of fine quality, most are displayed in the porch.  

Reason for designation
Listed II* as a largely medieval church with some interesting Victorian and C20 additions.  

Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]