CBHC / RCAHMW > News > Celebrating the Completion of Important Heritage Project at St Michael’s Medieval Church, Ceredigion

Celebrating the Completion of Important Heritage Project at St Michael’s Medieval Church, Ceredigion

In May 2019 the Royal Commission wrote a letter of support for the Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn Church and Community Group in their application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant towards repairs and improvements to the Church of St Michael, Ceredigion. Fast forward 4 years and we were delighted to attend the celebratory event to mark the completion of work and thank the organisations which provided funding and support for the project.

Aerial photograph of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn Church and surrounding village
St Michael’s Church is a Grade II* Listed Building, a rare example of a largely unaltered Welsh medieval church of cruciform plan with central tower. We do not know the exact date when the church was built; it first appears in records around AD 1300, though its origins are thought to be much earlier. The Welsh Lords of the Commote of Creuddyn, for which Llanfihangel was the administrative centre with court and probable bond village, would certainly have had a church here and the Brut y Tywysogion (The Chronicle of the Princes) notes that Gwenllian, daughter of Maelgwn Ieuanc (Fychan), died at her father’s court or Llys at Llanfihangel Gelynrhod (an older name for the settlement) in 1254 (© Crown copyright. RCAHMW).

With a grant of £187,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, together with additional funding from the National Churches Trust, Ceredigion County Council, the Wolfson Foundation, the Headley Trust, the Church in Wales and the local community, repairs to the church have addressed serious problems of damp by stopping water leaking through the tower into the church and by replacing the existing heating system. Access has also been improved by installing stairs to provide safe public access in the form of ‘Tower Tours’ up the medieval tower to the belfry. A new history area has also been created in the south transept where interpretation and exhibits are on display.

Outside view of the church while work was ongoing, scaffolding on the tower.
During Summer and Autumn 2021, the south and west faces of the medieval tower were repointed using hot-lime mortar, the same type of breathable material used in the original construction (Credit: Louise Barker).

Extensive repairs to the tower floors were needed to ensure they were able to take the weight of the new stair. The ends of some of the 500-year-old floor beams had started to rot where embedded in the walls of the tower. These sections were cut out and replaced with new oak sections before new oak floorboards were laid (Credit: Louise Barker).

The Royal Commission has worked closely with the community group during the project. We undertook a laser scan survey of the church tower prior to work commencing which helped inform the design of the new tower stairs. Working with the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory we also undertook tree-ring dating of the church roof, tower floors and bell-frame. We now know that one of the first sustained refurbishment projects was undertaken in the early decades of the AD 1500s when the church roof was upgraded and the tower refitted. Using oaks felled between 1502 and 1538, fashionable and expensive wagon roofs were installed by craftsmen in the nave and transepts, and three new floors were fitted in the church tower. At the top of the tower, a bell-frame to hold three bells was installed in 1537-8. Such an ambitious programme of work illustrates the prosperity of Llanfihangel parish, despite the period of instability leading up to the Reformation.

The wagon roof in the nave, looking directly upwards
The beautiful wagon roof in the nave (© Crown copyright. RCAHMW).

Speaking at the event and also unveiling a commemoratative plaque was Elin Jones, the Assembly Member for Ceredigion and Presiding Officer at the Welsh Senedd, who said:

It is wonderful to see the work that has been done at this church and the way that the community have, with the support of organisations and skilled craftsmen, restored the church as a place of worship and centre piece of the community’s cultural heritage, at the same time as promoting it as a heritage visitor attraction.  The sensitive revitalisation of ancient buildings is a valuable part of sustainable development and a sign of a vibrant community – in touch with and proud of its heritage, but looking forwards with an enterprising spirit.”

Elin Jones unveiling the new plaque
Elin Jones unveiling the commemoratative plaque (Credit: Arvid Parry Jones).

The church is now open to visitors. Services are held regularly, and it is open every weekend throughout the year and on weekdays between Easter and the end of October.  Tower Tours will be available later this summer. For more information, please visit https://eglwysllanfihangel.church/  

Louise Barker, Senior Investigator (Archaeology)

15/08/2023

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Ilmu Komunikasi
8 months ago

What organizations and entities provided funding and support for the restoration project of St. Michael’s Church, in addition to the National Lottery Heritage Fund?

Tim Palmer
Tim Palmer
9 months ago

A very fine job, and good to see the old font making an appearance. When Tyrrell-Green was writing it was still abandoned in the churchyard

Eric Evans
Eric Evans
10 months ago

A wonderful restoration and conservation project to see successfully completed, and of such cultural importance to our history. Definitely on my list to visit.

Richard SUGGETT
Richard SUGGETT
10 months ago

This was a great restoration project – congratulations to all concerned. It was good to see the church so full at the celebration of the successful tower restoration. As Elin Jones said, churches belong to everyone and it is important to pass them on to future generations. The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant-aided much of the work and will fund other church restoration projects with similar outcomes. We must take advantage of the NLHF Committee for Wales’s appreciation of the community significance of historic churches.

Elaine Blackman
Elaine Blackman
10 months ago

This looks wonderful, must put it on my churches-to-visit list.

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