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There are 3 levels of listing: Grade I, II* & II. The majority of buildings which are of special interest are Grade II. A much smaller number of particularly important buildings are listed as Grade II*. Buildings of exceptional interest (approx 2% of the total number of listed buildings) are Grade I.
Ancient monuments and archaeological remains of national importance are protected by law. Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service is responsible for compiling a schedule (list) of these ancient monuments, some of which can be found in churches and churchyards. Examples can include churchyard crosses and the archaeological remains of previous churches or buildings on the site.
There are three National Parks in Wales: Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons. These protect 20 percent of the land in Wales, including precious landscapes, habitats, villages and heritage sites.
There are over 500 conservation areas in Wales. They are designated by local planning authorities for their special architectural and historic interest.
The Buildings at Risk register is managed by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service) in order to identify the number and type of listed buildings at risk in Wales.
It is often extremely difficult to determine a precise date of construction for a church as many have been extensively altered over time. Church Heritage Cymru therefore shows a date range within which a church is believed to have been constructed. The dates are as follows: Early Medieval (pre 1066), Medieval (post 1066 to 1540), Post Medieval (1540 to 1837), Victorian/Pre WWI (1837 to 1914) and Modern (post 1914).
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This is the Ordnance Survey (OS) reference for the location of the church. Some locations will be approximate as this data is continuously being refined and updated.
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This describes how the church relates to its immediate and wider environment, sometimes called its setting. It describes how the church contributes to its landscape or townscape and how these things collectively contribute to the character of the area.
The town of Brecon lies in the Usk Valley at its confluence of the River Honddu with the Brecon Beacons to the south, the Black Mountains to the east and the Eppynt to the north-west. It lies at the junction of the A40 London to Fishguard road, and the A470 Cardiff to Llandudno road. London is some 280km distant to the east, Carmarthen on the road to Fishguard is some 80 km to the west and Cardiff is about 70 km to the south. The Cathedral chuch sits above the river Honddu on its west bank near to the remains of the former castle both sitting on an outcrop of Old Redsandstone.
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A description of the history and archaeology of the church and its site.
Following the success of Wlliam the conquorer at the battle of Hastings in 1066 a Benedictine Abbey was founded by him at Battle in Sussex (the site of the battle being about 10 km north west of Hastings). Duke William then consolidated his position by being crowned King William I and set about conquering the rest of his new realm. In 1093 Bernard de Neufmarché , one of the Norman Barons who had fought with William at Hastings, continued the Norman conquest of Wales by defeating the local Welsh rulers and erecting a castle in Brecon. He extened his power when the ruler of Deheubarth, Rhys ap Tewdwr died later in 1093. Bernard had a monk with him from Battle Abbey - Roger by name who was probably Bernad's confessor. Bernard resolved to found an abbey in Brecon following the example of King William I and he asked Roger to speak to his abbot about establishing a cell of Battle Abbey in Brecon. This happened, a Priory was established as a daughter house of Battle a which was built to the north of his castle. The site may well have been already in use as a church as the outline of the current precinct is curvilinear suggesting a 'llan' site. The church which developed here had one end for the monks and the other end for the town as their parish church with a screen between the two. Bernard had now consolidated his position locally with castle, Priory and Walled Borough. Walter a monk from Battle abbey was appointed as the first Prior. There were to be between five and eight monks appointed with him and he was required to render Battle Abbey 40 shillings per year as a mark of the Priory's status as a daughter house of Battle Abbey.
Bernard de Neufmarché endowed the Priory with grants of land. a mill on the Usk and a share in two others, St Mary Virgin, Llanywern, for example was a daughter church, the tithes also coming from Llangorse and Talgarth churches. During the Middle Ages the town of Brecon received its charters in 1276 with further charters following between 1277 and 1282, 1308 and 1412. The town was attacked by Llywellyn ab Iorwert in 1217, when he was bought off, but he returned in 1231 and 1233 when he burnt the town. The castle remained intact in 1322 when Edwrad II ordered its destruction. In 1412 the town had 86 burgesses, by 1443 their number had grown to 121, there was a twice-weekly market and three annual fairs. It was one of very few medieval towns dominatd by its church rather than a castle. It was in St David's Diocese, an archdeaconry was based in Brecon - the archdeacon lived in Llanddew. Episcopal courts were held in the Priory. In 1537 the Priory was dissolved, in 1535 the Valor ecclesiasticus valed the Priory's gross income at £134 11s 4d with its spiritualities at £76 5s 4d and its temporalities at £58 6s. The Priory at this time held 12 churches of which the Prior had received the full tithe from 8 of them. The Prior was pensioned off. During the C15 the nave held its most famous piece 'The Golden Rood'- screen three or four stories high with the Crucified Christ as its centre. This was taken down during the Dissolution.
Under the Act of Union of 1536 the town was designated as one of four regional administrative centres for Wales, returning its own MP and functioning as the centre for Quarter Session and an assize court..
Following Dissolution the Crown gained all the lands and property which it proceeded to sell. The lead from the roof weighed about 19 cwt and was cast into ignots some of which were used to repair Brecon castle. Of the bells two large ones had belonged to the priory and three smaller ones to the town. The Commisioners tried to sell them all, the town objected and they remained in the tower until the C18. The church remained as the parish church but all the ancillery buildings were sold off. In August 1645 Charles I stayed overnight in the former Prior's lodging while making a journey through Wales from south to north. A photgraph of his supposed bed hangs in the King's Room of the Diocsan offices.
In 1914 the Liberal Government under Asquith passed the Act for the Dissestablishment of the Church in Wales but the First World War prevented its application. The Church in Wales was disestablished in 1922 and in 1923 the Parish church of St John the Evangelist Brecon became the Cathedral for the new Diocese of Swansea and Brecon - the Diocese being founded on 24 June 1923. The Cathedra - the Bishop's throne now sits in the east end of the building.
In building their church the monks folowed a Romanesque monastic cruciform plan. Tree ring data for the timbers used in the building has a range of dates from 996 as the earliest date and the latest 1219, the median range being 1062 to 1174. Rebuilding started in 1230 and many of the details are similar to the Lady Chapel of Hereford Cathedral - similar masons worked on both, a collection of their marks can be found on the column nearest the main door to its east side. As a parish church the guilds had chapels in the aisle but only the Corvizor's Chapel remains in th north aisle and this was still in use until the late C20. Between 1780 and 1816 internal repairs took place In 1836 T H Wyatt placed a glass screen across the western arch of the crossing closing off the east end of the church. It had five lancets based loosly on the east window and also included pieces of the its medieval predecessor. There were then two periods of Victorian restoration; between 1861 and 1862 the presbytery, tower, trancepts and Havard Chapelwere resoed. Then between 1873 and 1875 Sir George Gilbert Scott imporved the nave and aisles, porch and fittings including completing the vauting in the presbytery which kept the C15 roof intanct. In 1914 W D Caröe restored the tower and then returned after the church was elevated to a cathedral when in 1929-30 to restored. the St Lawrenece Chapel adding an organ chamber above the adjacent sacrity. His last work for the cathedral was the reredos of 1937. In 1949 A D R Caröe designed a hanging crucifix but his ideas were not taken up. He upgraded the Havard and St Keyne's chapel in 1959-63. The Havard Chapel had by then become effectively a regimental Chapel to the South Wales Borders and their predecessor regiment ( 24th Foot). Memorials to the men of the Regiment are in the chapel including some who died at Rorke's Drift 22–23 January 1879. Under the Direction of Dean John Davies the nave had a complete set of chairs to replace plastic ones and under Dean Geoffrey Marshall a Crucifix was hung at the Crossing.
CPAT Brecon Town Study
Swansea and Brecon 1923 - 1973 David and Margaret Walker
Abbeys & Priories of Medieval Wales Janet Burton and Karen Stöber
The Cathdral Church of St John the Evangelist Brecon RCAHMW
Buildings of Wales – Powys 2013
The Battle of Hastings 1066 and the story of Battle Abbey English Heritage
A description of the exterior of the church and the main features of the churchyard.
The underlying rock is from the Devonian Old Red Sandstone series and particularly the rock from the St Maughan's Formation. The stone was quarried locally, either on site or in the quarries of the adjacent river Honddu gorge (it is possibe than some may have come from the Myddfai Gorge in Carmarthen or fro Blwch on the A40 towards Crickhowell). This rok shows the banding produced by fluvial currents and has holes where pebbles have come out. Replacement stones are from the Forest of Dean Pennat sandstones, close in colour and texture and available. The tilestones used on the roof come from a narrow band of rock lying between Builth Wells and Llandeilo, a greenish grey in colour, they are easily split due to their mica content.
The building has the standard cruciform pattern with a central tower; nave and ailses; transepts; chancel; north eastern Havard Chapel; south eastern chapels off the south transept; and a north porch which has a small room above 'the Muniment Room'. The main entrance through the porch has a Gothic doorway. The tower is crenellated with a south west stair turret. There is a back entrance in the corner of the Close between the choir range and the boiler house. The choir range stretches south from near the back of the nave and has, on the lower floors toilets and vestries, on the upper flor a choir room beneath dormer windows; and then the end of the range is the Deanery.
Cadw Listings Notice
Welsh Stone Forum National Museum of Wales
Information about any noteable architects, artists, people, or events associated with the church.
Information about any important features and building fabric.
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This section gives a general description of the interior of the church. Further details of any important internal fixtures and fittings will be listed below.
The chancel is one of the great delights of this cathedral, designed in the early English style it is a rare piece with the nearest similar feature being the Lady Chapel in Hereford Cathedral.. Deeply set lancet windows rise high above the many shafts below. The east window shows Mary, John and Mary Magdalene in the middle flanked: to the left by Moses’s arms which are held aloft by Aaron and Hur while the battle goes on below them as the sun sets with a further figure below; while on the right Cornelius kneels before Peter and John and another figure, above a group at the entrance to a house. The standing figures are of Joshua and Gideon in the outer lights. This work dates from the studio of Taylor & O’Conner in the 1880s. Beneath the window is the reredos, designed in the 1930s by W D Caröe. It was set in place in 1937 as a memorial to Bishop Bevan, it replaced Gilbert Scott's altar and is in sympathetic design to that in St Illud's Church in Llantwit Major. The central carving is the crucifixion surrounded by niches for statues of Biblical and Holy men. The panels at the base beautifully depict the Annunciation and the two Marys at Christ's tomb. Earlier in his carear Caröe had restored the screens at Patricio and Llanfilo and the four intrically worked towers of the reredos resemble the syle of those screens. All is carefully alighned to the mullions of the window above. Along the north wall of the Chancel are the piscinae, the arcading looks C13 while the bases and capitals are early C14. On the opposite wall (the south wall) is a C15 squint from the Havard Chapel.
The Havard Chapel was built in the C14 as a chantry chapel founded by the descendents of Sir Walter Havard of Pontwylim. A wall monument behind the altar bears his crest of a bull's head and a foliate memorial on the north side also has a bull in it. In 1922 Sir Charles Nicholason was commissioned to adapt the chapel as a memorial to 24th Regiment - originally the 2nd Warwickshire Regiment - who were garrisoned at the barrasks in the Watton (Hence the number of tree beside the road going down to the barracks from St Mary's). They became the South Wales Borders in 1881 and enjoyed distinguished service and were then amalgametned into the Welch regiment in 1969 which became the Royal Welch in 2004. The most famous of their service was at Rorke's Drift during the Zulu Wars and made into the film Zulu. As the colours of the battion colours were laid up they were suspended from the chapel roof. On either side of the chapel hang the Queen's Colours of the ten battalions dating from 1812 to1969. Those flags in the casing are the more delicate ones. (Care should be taken with the Havard Chapel spelling - there is no 'r' before the 'v'.) The stained glass ‘The Annunciation and Entombment’; ‘St David and St George’; St Andrew and St Patrick’, ‘Joan of Arc, St Martin and St Edmund; ‘ All by Powell & Sons, (Whitefriars) Ltd 1920s.
The north transept, once known at the Battle Chapel as it was reserved for the inhabitants of the nearby village of Battle. Against the west wall are slabs which were used to mark the graves of the Medieval monks who were burried beneath the slabs but with just a cross and no name on them. The large memorial is in memory of the Watkins family of Penoyre House (1.5 km to the west). It is one of the best works of the Brecon born John Evan Thomas who also sculpted the statue of Wellington in the town near to St Mary's. Other examples of his work are in Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
The next chapel round anti-clockwise is the St Keynes or Corvizers' chapel entered from the north aisle. There is a carving of a little mouse in the woodwork to the south of the chapel entrance. In medieval times there were a number of such guild chapels, this is the only one remaining and was used by the shoe-makers as their national shrine between 1936 and 1995. The British Boot and Shoe Federation would assemble at the Guildhall in the town centre and process to the cathedral. In the 1664 rental for Brecon, the tanners, corvizers and glovers were the three most frequently mentioned occupations within the town. To the south of the chapel looking out into the nave is a Tudor Screen - the square bosses came from the medieval oak roof of the chancel. The Tudor rose is prominent among the carving. St Keyns was a Celtic Saint living as a hermit in parts of the South West Peninsula and giving her name to Keynsham near Bath and St Keyne near Liskeard. She is reputed to have turned a plague of serpents into ammonites. The stained glass in this chapel near the altar depicts St Keyne with St Illtyd and St Cadoc. Below the figure of St Keyne is her death-bed scene with St Cadog in attendance. It was created in 1922 by Horace Wilkinson. Cadoc lived in a monastry at Caerwent and then founded one in Llancarfon and is shown holding a plan of this. St Illtyd was said to be the most learned of all Britons, 15 churches in Wales are dedicated to him as are 7 in Brittany. He founded a monastry at Llantwit Major which was, in effect, the first University in Britain. The window high up depicts St Cynog, St Brychan and St Alud. Brychan was the founder of the principality of Brecon (capital Talgarth) in the early C5. Alud was a virgin martyr and is shown in her cell in the Brecon Beacons; at her feet is the stream which gushed from the rocks on the Slwch tump after martyrdom while on Brychan’s right is Cynog founder of churches at Defynnog, Battle and Ystradgynlais and who was killed by the Saxons at Merthyr Cynog. The window was commissioned in 1910 designed by William Aikman and created in the studio of James Powell and Sons. The final window in this chapel shows the significant Lords of Brecon - the earls of Hereford being Lords of Brecon until 1373. The central figure is Giles de Broes, Bishop of Hereford, who sent a master mason from Hereford to oversee the building of the chancel. With him is Humphrey de Bohum and Edward Stafford, it was also designed by William Aikman and created in the same studio in 1910.
The next stained glass 'Such is the Kingdom of Heaven' , 'I go to prepare a place for you', and 'Have mercy upon me O Lord', are by W G Taylor 1887. Between them and the north door is a chest and opposite on the pillar is a selection of the mason's marks found on the stonework within the building some of which can also be found in Hereford. The last window on the north side 'The Resurrection' is also by Taylor of 1887. Between these two windows is the Cathedral porch. To the left of the door out is a small door in the wall which has steps leading up to the muniment room above the porch. This is where the cathedral records are kept particularly if they are not in regular use. Within the porch are two stained glass windows: 'St Catherne' by John Hardiman studios 1950, and 'St Agnes' of the same studio and date. The interior of the porch was restored in 1963 but the doorway retains the early C13 mouldings.
The west window 'Christ with Children brought by their mothers and the Baptism of Christ', this was designed by W G Taylor in 1898. This is most appropriate as in the middle of the rear of the nave is the font. This was cut from Millstone Grit, which was probably quarried near Crickhowell. The carvings belong to the Hereford School and resembles those in Kilpeck and Leominster (A Benedictine Priory).. This is the largest Norman font in Wales dating for about 1190. The pointed arcading around the stem is in Gothic style while the grotesque symbolic carvings looking more Celtic than Norman: a tree of life, a scorpion, an eagle and a fish; between the green man which is to be found just off centre to the right when looking at the font from the nave. The rear of the font is devoid of carving which it has been suggested by the fact that the font may, at one time, have been hidden underground. The .inscription round the rim f the font is in Latin and more or less illegible but its most likely statment is from St Mark's Gospel Chaper 1 verses 9-11 'In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And when he came up out of the water a voice came from Heaven "You are my beloved son" with you I am well pleased'. Above the font is a candelabra made in Bristol in 1722.To the south of the font towards the south door is the Cresset Stone which is the largest such stone in Britain. This has 30 sculpted hollows which held oil to lighten the darkness of the early morning services. It is very heavy, it takes four stong men to lift it with difficulty.
Moving into the south aisle the tomb of John Maud and family who designed the arsenal at Brecon Barracks on the Watton - now the regimental museum. the refrectory tables are good examples of local carpentry. Then the memorial to Sir David Williams of Gwrnyfed, owner of the fine Jacobean house in Velindre near Glasbury. He was a Justice of the Court of King's Bench, recorder and MP for Brecon. He died in 1613. The stained glass in this area:‘The Virgin Mary with St Mary Cleophas and St John the Divine’, ‘Christ with Children Brought by their Mothers and Baptism of Christ, both By W G Taylor 1898, the third window also of 1898 has no provenance is ‘Christ the Good Shepherd’.
The South Transept is entered through an Early English arch., it was once known as the Chapel of the Red-Hairen Men and was the traditional burial place for Norman Families. In the south eastern corner is the entrance to a wall walk used by monks to come down to the early morning services. On the eastern side is the St Lawerence Chapel where the cathdreal clergy say their daily offices. Also in the area are some late medieval quarter-circle cope chests These are rare, others to be found in York, Salisbury, Wells and Tewkesbury. The art works in this area are: An Ikon, which is not a painting. The painting by Willaims Scott 'Peace' (the Lion shall lie down with the lamb). The Llewellyn cupboard made in C17 using Flemish panels from 1500 - coming from Neath Abbey. The panels show 'The Adoration of the Magi', 'The Circumcision' and 'the Flight in to Egypt'. Below are panels by a differnt hand 'The Coronation of the Virgin and a Pieta'. The effigy is that of Bishop Edward Latham Bevan who left his personal fortune to the Cathedral and helped with the purchase of the buildings in the Close.
Turning north into the Crossing this is a lofty area beneath to tower. It is possible to see windows in the walls which illuminated the wall walk (above) and now lead to the ringing chamber. They may alternatively illuminated the Medieval 'Golden Rood' screen which existed until the Dissolution, here It divided off the 'monk's' church from the 'town' church. This was much desribed in C15 Welsh poetry. A huge gilden cross hung to the west of the tower while the rood beam itself displayed the symbols of the four evengelists, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - the writers of the four gospels). There were carvings of two thieves and larger figures of St John and the Virgin Mary hung on either side of a cross. The doors on either side show the height of the screen as thse allowed access to the gallery abve the rood. Pigrims would arrive through the north door, cross to the statue of Christ and touch his feet and be 'cured', they would then leave by the south door. High on the walls of the nave on either side are slante corbels. These would have held the canopy of the rood. On the wall behind the pulpit is a painting of a black eagle ona wheel. Ths was the seal of the Priory and the symbol of St John the evangelist. ( if you stnad in the south transept and look at the painting above the pulpit it is also possible to see a side view of Chairman Mao sometime Communist leadier in manlan China) on the opposite wall is the painting of the mantle of estate the Brecon Coat of Arms. The four piers of the crossing support the great tower. The pier on the south eastern corner has a carving a of human face-mast nd is the only medieval representation of a human face in the building. The carvings on the other piers are flowers, leaves and cushions.
The hanging crucifix hangs near where the Golden Rood used to be. This piece was commissioned by Anthony Bunker to celebrate his wife's ordination into the preisthood and was offered to the cathedrals on short term loan, it came to Brecon first and has returned in Decmber 2012 on permenant loan. It weighs 90kg, cast in bronze from driftwood found on Rhossili beach and hung from the trap door of the tower. The casting is life szed being about 2m in height The artist was Helen Sinclair, born in 1954 inSouth Wales she studied at Wimbledon School of Arch and has been a ful time sculptor since 1988.
The Cathedra is to be found on the south sice of the chancel close to the sanctuary. This piece of furniture is significant. It is the Bishop's throne, without which there would be no cathedral and no Diocese.
The Choir is situated on the west side of and into the Crossing. The cathedral choir sit in the fron and the Cathedral Canons site behind. Each Cannon has an alotted stall. These are labeled: Dean, Chancellor, Treasurer, Precentor, Builth, Crickhowell, Elwel,Melineth, Hay Swansea, West Gower with stalls also for the Archdeacon of Brecon and the Archdeacon of Gower, (this group form the Cathedral Chapter) the Minor Canons and the Honary Canons The cathedral Chapter are responsible for the running of the Cathedral with te Dean in chagre or in his absence the Chancellor. Strictly the Dean and Chapter are indepent of the Bishop although he appoints the Dean and - in consultation with the Dean, the Canons, The Archdeacons are ex officio and are appointed by the Bishop. Again stictly the Bishop may not come into the cathedral without the perrnission of the Dean. Conflicts can occur, but never here.
The Nave has as its central featue pleasantly upholstered chairs making for a more comfortable experience when attending services.
The Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist RCAHMW
Welcomers' Guide Cathedral Information Richard Camp
Stained Glass in Wales
CPAT Medieval and Early Post-Medieval Industry in East and North-East Wales
Information about the church's important internal fixtures and fittings.
Information about the church's important moveable items and artworks.
A description of the ecology of the churchyard.
Information about the presence of bats in the church building or churchyard.
Records whether the church has been consecrated.
Records whether there have been burials in the churchyard.
Records whether the churchyard is still being used for burials.
Records whether there are any war graves in the churchyard.
Any important churchyard structures will be listed here.
Signifiance levels are set at high, medium and low.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the relationship of the church to its surrounding area and helps place it within its wider landscape context.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the significance of the historic building fabric of the church.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the historic significance of the interior of the church.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the relationship between the church and its community.