Constructed in the distinctive Old Red Sandstone of Monmouthshire, and sitting in a near-circular ancient churchyard, the stonework of St David’s tells many stories of alteration and infilling. The interior was untouched by the Victorians, and the medieval rood loft survives.
Church-moving is rare, but the residual tower of St Peter’s is all that remains of just such an exercise carried out in 1877. Partly because it was in the wrong positon, partly because it had started to move (the tower is still on a definite lean).
Accessible only by foot, off a remote country road, Llantrisant dates from the 14th century, and is surrounded by a boundary wall so high it feels defensive. Maybe it is this sense of mystery that makes it one of the most remote but at the same time one of the most visited of all our churches.
At St Andrew’s everything is roofless – as it has been since 1866 when a window was blown in during divine service. But this doesn’t stop this Grade II* church being used each August for an annual service held by local people.
St Leonards is a classic village church – double-cell with a tall, narrow nave of almost Anglo-Saxon proportions and a doll-like chancel rebuilt in Neo-Norman by an unknown hand in 1844. Closed and proposed for demolition in the 1970’s, now in use as an artists’ workshop.
The clue that you have arrived at St Beuno’s is the gloriously organic lychgate in slate, reconstructed in the 19th century but originally dated 1698. This structure alone testifies to the geological richness of the site, an elevated oval churchyard with monuments of all forms and status.
“Bury me there!” said Bill Bryson, of Thornton-le-Beans church, in North Yorkshire. Well we can offer him a plot in the churchyard for the church now belongs to us.
Dedicated to St Decumanus and dating from the 14th century, with an unusual plan including 3 chapels. In 1994 the oil refinery behind the church blew up and burned for 36 hours; the village was cleared and with no congregation left it was declared redundant and passed to the Friends in 2005.
Deep in the Golden Valley, on an unclassified road leading up from Peterchurch to Urishay Common, lies a building raised up from the road which looks for all the world like a barn. It is in fact the earliest purpose-built chapel to a castle in Herefordshire.
When we took on Old St Peters it was under threat of demolition and near derelict, with fixtures and fittings stripped away; now it is the workshop of Ben Finn, who helped us repair and breathe new life into the church. We are delighted that one of our most challenging of churches is now an exporter of great art to churches elsewhere.