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Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid

Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid, Breconshire

Dedication: Unknown

Denomination: Anglican

Built: 1789
Rebuilt: 1864, to design by Sir George Gilbert Scott

Notes:
1. Betws Penpont church has no known dedication. The first identifiable church on the site was a chapel of ease to Llanspyddid, erected by the Williams family, owners of the nearby house of Penpont. Its erection is not dated but by 1738 it was ruinous. A new chapel was built in 1789 and this probably included a tower with a bee-hive top similar to that on the old church at Llansantffraid-juxta-Usk. It was at this time too that the churchyard was walled. In 1864 the chapel was rebuilt in Early English style by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It was given the status of parish church in 1880.
[Source: Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) website]
2. In this parish [Llanspyddid] is a chapel, which has been augmented by Queen Anne's bounty, sometimes called Penpont chapel, and sometimes Capel y Bettws... In 1738 it became ruinous, when a hard fought contest occurred in the the ecclesiastical court at Brecon, between Penry Williams of Penpont, Esq., and the Rev Richard Williams of Aberbrân, as to the liability to repair it: Mr Williams of Aberbrân contending that the parishioners were not compellable to contribute towards rebuilding it, as it was a private oratory belonging to Castell Einon Sais or some religious house; Mr Williams of Penpont, on the other hand, insisted that it was a chapel of ease to Llanpyddid, and that though it was situated near the ruins of Castell Einon Sais, he never heard that it was considered as a religious house. After the examination of many witnesses, the court decreed that the parishioners were bound to repair and rebuild it; notwithstanding which, the late Mr Philip Williams of Penpont, about 1789, when it became again dilapidated, rebuilt it nearly at his own expense, erected a wall round the chapel yard, planted evergreens and flowering shrubs, and otherwise much improved its appearance that if a light elegant spire were substituted for the bee hive which covers the bell, it would be the most perfect sketch for the pencil that an artist could wish for or imagine.
[Extracted from A History of the County of Brecknock, Volume Four, by Theophilus Jones (1804), 'Glanusk Edition' revised and edited by Sir Joseph Russell Bailey, published by the Brecknock Society, 1930]
3. In the year 1880 Bettws Penpont was made into a separate ecclesiastical district, and has been held since 1864 by the Rev Prebendary Garnons Williams. Formerly it was a chapel-of-ease to Llanspyddyd. It was restored by the parishioners in 1738; about 1780 it was again restored by Philip Williams Esq., at his own expense; and it was last beautified in 1865, under the supervision of Sir Gilbert Scott, at a cost of £1,000. The church abuts on the grounds of Penpont estate.
[Source: The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire, by Edwin Poole, published by the author, Brecon, 1886]

Photography: John Ball
Date: 18 March 2007 (exterior shots); 16 August 2009 (interior shots)
Camera: Nikon D50 digital SLR
Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid
Above: Betws Penpont Church, southern aspect.

Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid
Above: Nave, chancel and sanctuary.

Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid
Above: Apse ceiling above the chancel and sanctuary.

Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid
Above: Stained glass windows in the sanctuary (left and right) and south wall of the nave (centre).

Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid
Above: Nave, baptistry and font.

The apsidal baptistry is set within the base of the round west tower. It contains a large font with a cover of oak and brass.

On the steps of the font is an unusual barrel-shaped oak ewer with three brass bands and a brass handle. The bands are inscribed,
ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, respectively, and dated Sept. 27. 1891.


Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid Betws Penpont Church, Llanspyddid
Above: West window in baptistry.

This window, supplied in 1913 by Messrs Powell and Sons, London, is To the glory of God and in loving memory of Garnons Williams, Priest. Born 26 December 1828. Died 24 October 1908 and of Catherine Frances, his wife. Born 20 July 1833. Died 27 December, 1892.

Above: Hatchment on north wall of baptistry.

Hatchments were an innovation of the second half of the 17th century, when it became customary for a painting on board to be exhibited in on a dwelling house for several months after death, and then to be placed in the church. The hatchment above shows the arms of the Williams family of Penpont, with a scroll bearing a legend (in Latin), Prefect of the Province, and Keeper of the Rolls of the Breconshire Committals. This is the legend ascribed to all Lords Lieutenant of the County during their term of office. It commemorates Penry Williams, who was Lord Lieutenant of Brecknockshire from 1836 to 1847.

[Caption information extracted from The Parish of Betws Penpont, by Rev E. H. V. Rees, first published 1969, reprinted 1997]

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