Thursday 25 April 2013

Llandeilo Tal-y-Bont church, St Fagans

As a comparison for the frescos in Kempley Church - how they might once have looked Pre-Reformation - this is the church of Llandeilo Tal-y-Bont, originally by a curve on the River Llwchwr on the marshes at Pontardulais, and now faithfully rebuilt at St Fagans - the Museum of Welsh Life at Cardiff.  It was well known by Edward Thomas, who once famously wrote of sheltering in the porch in a thunderstorm and watching the incredible lightening across the marshes.  (He and Robert Frost were also very familiar with Kempley!)   I met a lovely lady recently, whilst I was volunteering, who knew this church well when it was still in use, and she told me that "everyone went to services there.  It was very popular with the young folk too, and the pathway to it was called "the monkey walk"!!!  I daresay a good few courting couples remember the church too.

Now, when the church  - which had sadly fallen into disrepair since being deconsecrated around 1970 - was being dismantled around 1984 prior to taking it to St Fagans, they found the most amazing Medieval paintings - all carefully whitewashed over of course from Cromwellian times.  They span quite a few periods, but most date from 1490 to 1530.  These pictures give you an idea of the colour and magnificence of some of our early churches.  Christ on the Cross and above him, Noah and his ark.

Imagine the chequerboard windows of Kempley in their full glory, like this archway.

The Last Supper, and is the previous one Christ's journey to Jerusalem?

St Christopher, who would grace the wall opposite the entrance, for the benefit of travellers and pilgrims.  Presumably you would need a bit of help to cross the River Llwchwr, which is still tidal at this point.  If you subsequently died, once you had seen St Christopher 's image,  you would then go straight to heaven

Saints (or disciples?) and scenes from Christ's passion. 

The name of the church, by the way, derives from the Llan (holy meeting place) of St Teilo, by the crossing place/bridge across the river.  Llandeilo tal-y-bont.  A church was on that site from the 6th century onwards, although the rebuilt church dates from the 13th C.

HERE is an interesting blog link, which gives you much ore detail about the church.


  1. I love the simplicity of this church - but then I also love the explosion of colour and magnificence of those wall paintings. What a wonderful heritage we have in this country.

  2. I need to go back again, as I think they have painted more since we were last there. The colour inside is really quite mind-blowing! how it must have looked to the poor simple folk whose usual palette range was of the grey townscape or the more natural palette of field and furrow, I don't know. All the symbolism which is depicted within such paintings, and in the artwork of the carved misericords and adornments of church and cathedral, is equally fascinating and like opening a door into the Medieval mind.

  3. I am indeed imagining those chequered windows!

  4. It seems so wonderful to me that people with the same beliefs as me have worshiped on that very same spot for more than 1400 years. The artwork is a wonderful bonus to that. Jesus is indeed "the same yesterday, today and forever". I love the simplicity of the church.