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 Padarn  


Unitary Authority
Llanbadarn Fawr  
Llanbadarn Fawr  
Street Side
Situated on a sloping site just W of The Square in the centre of the village.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

Anglican parish church, probably C13 with C15 chancel, restored 1868-84 by J.P. Seddon. The church succeeds one of the most important Celtic foundations in Wales, the monastery of St Padarn, missionary from Brittany in mid C6, and first bishop. The bishopric lasted until c720 and the church was destroyed by Vikings in 987 and 1038. In C11 Llanbadarn was a noted centre of learning under Sulien and his four sons, including Rhygyfarch, author of the life of St David, but declined after the first arrival of the Normans in the C12. It was under royal control from mid C13 and presumably then rebuilt. Thomas Bradwardine vicar in early C14 became Archbishop of Canterbury. Given to Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire c1360, and under that abbey until 1538. The nave and transepts are massive and plain with simple lancets, but the S door is so exceptional a piece of Decorated Gothic of the C13 as to arouse suggestions that it was moved from another church such as Strata Florida, but of this there is no evidence. The chancel was remodelled by Abbot William Stratford of Vale Royal in the later C15 with new red sandstone side windows. The parish of 240 square miles (621.6 square kilometres) was the largest in Wales, and included Aberystwyth until the C19. Dafydd ap Gwilym wrote his famous poem the Girls of Llanbadarn about the church in the mid C14. William Morgan, translator of the Bible into Welsh was vicar in the C16. There were still fine medieval screens in the church in 1810, possibly lost when repairs were done in 1813-16. Then the church was divided into the Capel hir (nave), Capel y dre or Capel Aberystwyth (N transept) and Capel Clarach (S transept). In poor condition in the mid C19, the nave walls leaning outward and decayed roofs, restoration was proposed in 1848 under R.K. Penson, but not actively pursued until the Rev John Pugh became vicar in 1862, when new plans were made by W. Butterfield. Butterfield resigned in 1867 and the restoration was finally carried out 1868-84 by J.P. Seddon. Seddon thought that the church had once been much more elaborate, like the S doorway; and proposed inserting a matching W crossing arch, and also more complex spire, but this aroused protest from the Rev. Basil Jones, and was abandoned. Seddon also proposed replacing all the roofs to a steeper pitch, thinking the existing ones poor C16 work, which was done, except that the C15 chancel roof was retained between the new roof and the ceiling. The nave was in poorest condition and the walls were substantially rebuilt and the porch wholly replaced in the first phase: 1868-9, Thomas Williams of Cardiff contractor. Traces of painted decoration were found including a colossal St Christopher, but could not be saved. The committee considered an oak roof for the nave, but rejected it as too costly. Tower and transepts restored 1878-80 with short spire similar to the original, but slated not oak-shingled: Roderick Williams contractor. William Morris on behalf of the SPAB wrote to the vicar in 1877 asking for a less severe restoration. The chancel finally was restored 1880-4. The chancel glass by S. Belham is to Seddon's designs. Repairs and fittings 1935-6 by Caroe & Passmore, in 1960 by G.G. Pace, and S transept refitted as an exhibition around the two C9-11 crosses, 1985-8 by Peter Lord, with work by a number of notable craftspeople.  

Church, rubble stone, with ashlar quoins and windows, slate roofs and coped gables with cross finials. Roofs have patterned bands of fishscale Whitland Abbey slates, except on nave. Large scale, plain unbuttressed walls without batter: nave, C19 S porch, transepts, chancel with C19 added N vestries and large crossing tower with C19 recessed slated spire. Windows are generally narrow single lancets, some possibly medieval, in same eroded yellow stone as quoins. W and S gables have 3, spaced 2 below and one above, N. has 2 only. Four lancets to nave N, 3 and porch to S. C19 porch has big ashlar triple-chamfered pointed arch, hoodmould and stone voussoirs. Boarded segmental pointed roof, stone side benches and quarry tiles within. Exceptionally ornate C14 Dec inner S doorway, the finest such work in the county, three deeply moulded shafts each triple-roll with keel to centre roll and stiff-leaf capitals and matching triple mouldings to pointed arch, with hoodmould. Fine oak double doors by Seddon with wrought iron hinges and cambered lintel under oak tympanum with roundel pierced with three leaded trefoils and trefoil each side. Three steps up. Nave S downpipes dated 1884. Transepts also have single lancet E and W. Crossing tower is massive and plain with numerous put-log holes, C19 louvred paired cusped bell-lights and corbelled embattled parapet. Broached short slated spire with fish-scale slates and weathercock. S side clock dated 1859. Chancel has S lancet, plain pointed door with cut stone voussoirs, and C15 red stone Perp segmental-pointed 2-light window, the tracery C19. Large C19 5-light E window also in red stone, with late Gothic style tracery. Chancel N has C15 three-light window in red stone with C19 tracery above small gabled N vestry, then step-back in wall to right over C19 lean-to with timber glazing to roof in 2 levels. Cast-iron rainwater head dated 1882. N transept has C19 2 -light E window with relieving arch of older window well above. Stonework is almost all C19 to nave S wall, less so elsewhere.  

Whitewashed plastered walls with plastered large plain arches to crossing. Roofs by Seddon, increasingly elaborate towards chancel. Exposed stone reveals to W windows only. Nave roof of 8 x 12 panels, boarded with bosses and brattished wall plate. Red marble step to crossing. Crossing has chamfered NE angle for tower stair with door at foot. Complex oak roof in 9 panels with heavy beams and pendant bosses, the corner panels have fan vaulting on corbels, the other outer panels slope and the centre has moulded roundel. Very fine mosaic floor to centre aisle and cross aisles by Seddon with inset lozenge panels of fine encaustic tiles of kneeling priest. Transepts have boarded ceilings with heavier ribs, 3x6 panels, each panel subdivided in 4, brattishing and band of quatrefoils to wall-plate. Each transept has 2 pointed recesses in end wall. Chancel has red marble step, with mosaic as in crossing, and encaustic tile panels of three-branch lamp, then another marble step and black marble main chancel flooring in small paving slabs. In sanctuary further three marble steps, with paving of pink marble with black in square or zigzag patterns. Ornate roof with smaller panels along ridge, moulded ribs and carved bosses, and brattished cornice each side above a row of little fan-vaults separating seven half-round panels with shield-bearing angels. This roof conceals a C15 roof. N and S windows are C15 red stone inscribed with rebus and name of William Stratford, Abbot of Vale Royal. Three small square-panelled doors to N: one to base of former roodloft stair, another high on wall to left, and a vestry door further right. Also a pointed S door, all by Seddon, with wrought iron hinges. Fine reredos across E wall in red sandstone and white marble. Red stone outer wall-panelling in squares of rose and vine, in moulded frame. White marble shelf on brackets over pink marble framing behind altar, outer panels white marble with cross on vine background. Frame is stepped over main reredos: 5 white marble inner panels are separated by short half-octagonal red stone columns: alpha and omega each end and 3 long panels, 2 of vine and centre passion flower. Above these three are three white marble lettered panels, 2 with Laus Deo, and centre Gloria in excelsis Deo, also red stone framed. . Fittings: Font C13 or C14 octagonal ashlar bowl with shallow pairs of pointed recesses each face, on broad octagonal shaft and base, ashlar. Oak and wrought iron C19 cover. Ornate pulpit by Seddon 1879, Beer stone ashlar Gothic, drum with 2 cusped panels with carved stone reliefs of SS John and Paul by H. Stannus, square rosettes and leaf-carving in spandrels flanking, and Gothic column with large capital for book rest. Given by Bishop Basil Jones. Lectern 1906, brass eagle. Pews in nave by Seddon pitch pine with pegged tenon joints, more ornate but similar stalls in crossing with open-arcaded front kneelers and 2 reading desks with triple pointed arches to fronts and scrolled tops to uprights. Nave inner porch in oak with long narrow leaded lights by G.G. Pace, 1960s. Organ in S transept 1885 by Foster & Andrews of Hull, pine case, painted pipes. Timber rails by Seddon, in open grid within panels, the top openings cusped. Timber altar by Seddon with 3 panels each of 4 quatrefoils. Nave and transept light fittings by G.G. Pace. N transept fittings 1936 by Caroe & Passmore including finely carved reredos, panelling each side, altar, rails, lectern, pews and kneelers, all in pale oak. Reredos has carved Crucifixion, St Mary and St John. S transept exhibition area designed by Peter Lord: pitch pine screen with etched glass panels of winter and spring with words by Dafydd ap Gwilym, by Peter Lord. White glazed tiled floor with red tile border, around two early crosses moved into the church in 1916: short one has crude roll-mould border to roughly hewn cross: uncertainly dated C9-11. Taller cross, the 'Cross of St Padarn' is of granite with Celtic interlace in panels down one face, the other more varied but much eroded has one crude human figure with spiral across the body. Dated to C10. Grey granite monolith seat, kneeler and altar, each with inset gold-enamelled small tile by Andrew Rowe. Wall plaster has incised red line. Small enclosed chambers to each side, to left imitation pointed vault and slate slab floor to chapel of St Padarn with St Padarn window (see below), porcelain panel by Gillian Still of St Padarn and ordeal by boiling water, low slate seat, and niche at S end with etched red chi-rho symbol over massive low slate slab altar with Alpha and Omega incised. To right are two small exhibition rooms entered through screen with 2 further etched glass windows by Lord, summer and spring. The Sulien room has incised slate floor slab and lettered text around wall from Elegy of Rhygyfarch, both by Ieuan Rees. The outer room has historical exhibits in display case by Paul Roberts. Information panels lettered by Mihangel Morgan. Memorials: Nave: W end slate with relief of priest, to Rev. W.E. Davies (d 1973). S wall: plaque Gladys Greer (d 1934); Matthew Davies Williams of Cwmcynfelin (d 1833), neo-Grec with kneeling child, by E.H. Baily. Chancel floor: slab to the antiquarian Lewis Morris. Chancel N wall from left: E.L. Pryse of Peithyll (d 1888), fine neo-Renaissance with angel opening tomb door; plain plaque to M.J. Fryer (d 1887) by M. W. Johnson; plaque to Jane Loveden (d 1855); broad plaque to Margaret Pryse (d 1798) with 2 weeping cherubs and urn on pedestal; slate plaque framed with fluted pilasters and cornice to Katherine Chichester 1739; large and fine white and grey marble monument to Lewis Pryse of Gogerddan and Woodstock, (d 1779), with rusticated base, pedimented plaque framed by half-balusters, urn and reclining cherubs on pediment, against obelisk. Chancel E, to left: memorial with pilasters and broken pediment to Thomas Pryse of Gogerddan (d 1745); Baroque cartouche with large cherubs, to Cornelius Le Brun of Cologne, son-in-law to John Jones of Nanteos (d 1703); and another below of 1708 with arms and banners, to John Jones (d 1666). Chancel E, to right: Baroque plaque with ornate drapery and scrolls, swan-neck pediment, and arms, to Sir Thomas Powell of Nanteos (d 1705), design by W. Townesend of Oxford, made by R. Wynne of Ruthin. Chancel S: coloured marble memorial to Rev. William Powell of Nanteos (d 1780), Adam-style; Lt W.E.G.P. Powell, killed 1918, with busby and sword; plaque to W.E. Powell of Nanteos (d 1854); plaque with urn to Thomas Powell of Nanteos (d 1797). Very long slate plaque with broken pediment to William Powell (d 1738) and Avarina Le Brun; large memorial to John Pugh Pryse MP (d 1774), with numerous cherubs, one holding portrait relief, attributed to Van der Hagen of Shrewsbury. Plaque to Pryse Loveden MP of Gogerddan (d 1855), by H. Ashton; above is finely carved memorial to Harriet Pryse (d 1813) of mourning cloaked male in Gothic frame, by John Flaxman; plaque to Pryse Pryse MP of Gogerddan (d 1849). Chancel W end: plain plaque to Eliza Rice (d 1846), and plaque with urn to Jane Pryse (d 1846), both by Ashton. Stained Glass: 3 W windows Abraham, Moses and David, 1894, by Heaton Butler and Bayne. Nave N 1 1887 'Be not afraid', High Victorian style; N 2 1963 by Roy Lewis, modernist; N 3 1985 by John Petts, with symbols on pink and blue. Nave S 1 and 2, Hope and Faith, c1900 by William Morris of Westminster; S 3 Arts and Crafts style by Hugh Arnold 1904, Justice, to Sir G.H.P. Evans of Lovesgrove. S transept: S 3 windows 1930 to Bonsall family; SS Padarn, Teilo and David, conventional, E scenes from Life of St Padarn by Elizabeth Edmundson 1985 in Celtic illuminated manuscript style, W Burma Star window by Celtic Studios 1985, conventional. N transept N 2 windows to Morgans of Nantcaerio c1885 possibly by Heaton, Butler & Bayne; E small 2-light 1878 by J.P. Seddon, inventive dark leading and classical style drawing. W single light c1930 by Heaton, Butler and Bayne to J.T. Morgan of Nantcaerio. Chancel E window 5-light Resurrection with musician angels, very bright, given by G.E. J. Powell of Nanteos, 1884, design by J.P. Seddon with F.J. Shields, made by S. Belham, drawing by H.G. Murray. N window 3-light 1885 given by Hughes of Glynpadarn, presumably by S. Belham; S1 single light Virgin and Child, to EW Jones (d 1879), by Belham, and S 2, 2-light 1884 by S. Belham, Nathan, David and Samuel, given by G.F.W. Powell of Nanteos.  

Reason for designation
Graded I as the pre-eminent medieval church of the region, with outstanding monuments and fine later C19 fittings and stained glass.  

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