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Visitor information

location

Llangua/Llangiwa
Grosmont
Monmouthshire
NP7 8HD

calendar

Closed for repairs

OS grid reference

SO 392 258

Llangua church, built in old red sandstone, nestles into a bend of the River Monnow.

In high summer, with cattle cooling in the river, it is a sight of timeless bucolic beauty.

About St James's, Llangua (Llangiwa)

Originally dedicated to St Ciwa, a local female saint said to have been raised by wolves, the church probably had a pre-Conquest foundation. Following the initial Norman conquest of the Welsh kingdom of Gwent by William Fitz Osbern, the church at Llangua was given to the Benedictine Monastery at Lire in Normandy who established a monastic cell at Llangua. Nothing remains of the monastery today, but there are remains of a 13th-century mill near the church.

The earliest fabric of this building is 12th century, and includes the tub font and evidence of a Norman two-light window high in the gable of the west end. Most of the structure dates from the 14th-15th centuries, and this includes two magnificent wagon roofs over the chancel and nave. Stylistically, we believe the roof dates from 1475-1525, a great period of church reconstruction. New windows and a vestry were added by Thomas Nicholson of Hereford in 1889.

Between the nave and chancel, evidence for a rood screen and loft can be seen in an irregularity in the masonry, on which a characterful 16th-century statue of St James now stands. More colourful figures can be seen on a 14th-century painted screen, which is believed to have come from a demolished chapel in Devon.

Llangua church exterior

A legacy of church conservation

In 1954-5, our founder Ivor Bulmer-Thomas restored the church in memory of  his young wife, Dilys, who had died after childbirth. It was the first church he restored, and less than three years later, Ivor created the Friends of Friendless Churches. 

This charming little church has played a pivotal role in the history of heritage and church conservation in England and Wales. However, it became redundant in 2020, and is in a precarious condition, with its medieval roofs in danger of complete collapse. Thanks to a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 2023, we can now take action to repair and protect this important and venerable building.

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Highlights

  • 10-bay and 6-bay medieval wagon roofs with a mixture of medieval and Victorian bosses
  • 12th-century tub font
  • 16th-century carved statue of St James
  • 14th-century painted screen depicting figures in four panels (Virgin and Child, Christ, a King (possibly St Edward) and an unidentified Bishop) 
  • 18th-century panelled pulpit and reading desk
  • Memorial plaque to Dilys Thomas, wife of our founder, Ivor Bulmer-Thomas

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