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St Mary's Church, Bronllys, Breconshire

St Mary's Church, Bronllys Dedication: St Mary

Denomination: Anglican

Rebuilt: 1867

1. The church of St Mary at Bronllys, 12km to the north-east of Brecon, has a medieval structure, perhaps 14th century, at its core but was considerably reconstructed during the 19th century. It is unusual for its detached bell-tower. Internally, the church retains its original font and a 16th century rood screen, but otherwise has been largely Victorianised. The churchyard is rectangular but could contain the fossilised outline of a curvilinear predecessor.
[Extracted from the website of Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT), where the full text is available]
2. A medieval fabric, rebuilt in 1867 by Nicholson & Sons, consisting of nave, chancel and 16th century timber S porch and detached tower of uncertain date. George G. Pace renovated and beautified the church in 1969 by whitewashing the whole interior, providing a new hanging Rood, moving the heavy 16th century screen to form a vestry at the W end and other changes, all of which show what can be done to make a really attractive setting for worship. The original pulpit of c1700 and 12th or 13th century font were retained in the earlier restoration.
[Extracted from A Guide to Welsh Parish Churches, by R. W. Soden, Gomer Press, Llandysul, Dyfed, 1984; ISBN 0-863383-082-X]
3. The church was mostly rebuilt in 1887, leaving only the 12th or 13th century font with four corner projections, the narrow chancel arch, and the 16th century timber-framed porch and the rood screen, the latter now moved moved to the west end. The pulpit of c1700 has been brought here from the church at Llandyfaelog Tre'r Graig. The unusual detached tower set north of the chancel east wall is 18th or 19th century.
[Extracted from The Old Parish Churches of Mid Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, Worcestershire, 2003; ISBN 1-871731-62-3]

Photography: John Ball
Date: 22 September 2009
Camera: Nikon D50 digital SLR

St Mary's Church, Bronllys
Note 4. There has been a building on this site since medieval times. The first known incumbent of the parish of Bronllys was David Gomod in the year 1400 – the year of the death of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry. The ancient church building in the Norman style was restored in 1889 when it was in a state of serious disrepair. It was rebuilt on the same ground-plan as the original and the base of the old walls was retained. The bell tower survives from the original medieval building. It contains a light but musical ring of six bells, extensively restored in 1939.
[Source: Information board in lychgate entrance to churchyard]

St Mary's Church, Bronllys
Note 5. Description of original church, from Jones (1809):
The Church, dedicated to Saint Mary, is a very indifferent edifice, not ceiled and the windows small; it is remarkable that the steeple, which is detached from the church, is also, contrary to general custom, at the east end. It contains five bells. How or when the separation took place, or which is the most ancient building, we are not informed either by history or tradition; both appear to be of ancient date, although there is neither monument or inscription earlier than the seventeenth century.
[The History of Brecknockshire, by Theophilus Jones (1805/1809), Glanusk Edition (Vol 3), Blissett, Davies & Co., Brecon, 1911]

St Mary's Church, Bronllys
Note 6. Early 20th century description of rebuilt church, from Jones (1809):
The Church underwent restoration in 1889-90, at a cost of £1200. The building has been well restored, but does not at this time present that orderly appearance within or without which is desirable in a place of public worship.
[The History of Brecknockshire, by Theophilus Jones (1805/1809), Glanusk Edition (Vol 3), Blissett, Davies & Co., Brecon, 1911]
St Mary's Church, Bronllys
St Mary's Church, Bronllys
Above: The porch houses this memorial to parishioners who served in the Great War of 1914-1918.

St Mary's Church, Bronllys
Above: A large stone 'Table of Benefactions' (undated) leans against the wall of the porch.
A Person unknown
gave Ten Pounds to be lent out at interest for
the use of the Poor of this Parish.

Sybill Williams, widow, gave four and
twenty shillings yearly to the Poor of this Parish
and to the Poor of the township of Pipton by
equal portions payable out of part of a tenement
called Pentwyn in the Parish of Llanigon.

David Williams, clerk, gave forty shillings
yearly to the Poor of this Parish, and charged the
payment thereof upon the rectorys of Llande-
valley, Crigcadarn, and Broynllys.

John Havard, Gent gave five pounds to be
laid out at interest for the use of the Poor of
this Parish.

St Mary's Church, Bronllys
Above: This 18th century memorial to Evan Bevan and his wife, was leaning against the wall of the church.
IN Memory of
Evan Bevan of this Parish
who departed this Life June
21st 1788. In the 50th Year of
his AGE

Under this Stone Interred I lie
Not thinking of my Death so nigh;
Now for me no Sorrow take
But Love my Children for my Sake.

Reader beneath an honest Man lies here
Just in his Dealings - - - his Friend Sincere.
IN Memory also of
Elizabeth Relict of
of this Parish Gent. She departed
this Life the 7th Day of October
1804 AGED 63 Years.

Here sweetly Sleeps in hopes of endless Life
A tender Mother and a careful Wife
A useful Neighbour and faithful Friend
Good while she lived and happy at her end.

Below: Many of these small wooden crosses mark the graves of those who died at nearby Talgarth Sanatorium and Bronllys Hospital.
St Mary's Church, Bronllys
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