Now I have visited this church before many years ago but as I am writhing this blog I thought it was worthy of a revisit. On my first visit I thought the church old but missed the significance of it all on my second visit my eyes were opened to the to it all and I was bowled over by what I missed the first time. So some history on the church, for a change I could find nothing in Wikipedia but had to turn to Britan Express for a great bit of research which I have used here.
There was certainly a church here before the Normans came, dedicated to Ystyffan, a 6th century member of the royal family of Powys. When the Normans conquered this part of Wales they mistakenly assumed that Ystyffan referred to Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr and a popular Norman dedication.
Control of Old Radnor passed from the princes of Powys to the Mortimer family of Herefordshire. One reminder of the Mortimer connection s a stone slab decorated with a floriated cross, set into the nave floor. This is thought to mark the grave of Hugh Mortimer, rector from 1257-1290.
A scalloped capital in the chancel arch suggests that there was a 12th century church here, but the present church is largely a product of the late 15th and early 16th century, with a pair of aisles flanking a nave, a chancel, west tower, and porch.
The church was burned during Owain Glyndwr's rebellion in 1401, and this destruction was probably the impetus for the rebuilding which gave us the current building. One curiosity is that there are several aumbries and piscinas throughout the church, suggesting that there may have been as many as 5 altars. That would mean that St Stephen's was much more than just a simple parish church, but had a very high status.
The most impressive interior feature is a 15th century carved screen separating the chancel and chapels from the aisle and nave. In the chancel stands the organ, with its beautifully crafted 16th century case, thought to be the oldest in Britain. No one knows exactly when it was made, but it is not stretching imagination too much to think that it was made before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It is interesting to note that one of the great early organists, John Bull, was born in Old Radnor in 1563, and must have practised, or been taught to play on this very organ.
Also worthy of note is the huge font, which is definitely pre-Norman, and perhaps as early as the 8th century. There is 15th century stained glass depicting St Catherine, along with symbols associated with Edward IV; the black bull and white rose en soleil.
The nave roof is 16th century, with decorative bosses in the style of Tudor roses. Even earlier is the timber roof of the north aisle. Set into the aisle floor are 128 medieval glazed tiles, and there are more medieval tiles in the south aisle.
There are 16th century benches in the choir, and grave slabs dating from the 17th century are set into the chancel floor. In the south chapel is a marble 18th century monument to Lewis of Harpton.
The church tower can be seen for miles around
When you get in the churchyard you can see how high the belltower is
and even when walking round the North Side you get a good view of the church
The East end with a couple of headstones and on the right a view of the South side of St Stephen
Above the porch entrance you can see small alcoves with saints in them
Looking back down to the Lychgate from the porch
and across the churchyard with the Radnor countryside in the distance
Above a yew tree frames the churchyard while on the left you look along the north side
I like this old pillared tomb which has ivy creeping on it
view across the south side of the churchyard
This was unusual for a vault with the small fence and headstone on the end
Going down the side of the hill brings its own problems as the footing is not that secure with humps and dips
This huge piece of rock is a headstone wit inscription carved in the front
Above a few of the bluebells that were growing and on the left an another unusual tomb
View up form the bottom of the churchyard
Climbing back you you see a few crosses
The a final look down
I have moved across the road next to the churchyard extension for Old Radnor which from the looks is getting full as well
This is were all the modern burials go now
There are a couple of war graves here One on the left is Private J Davies and the right David John Ellway of the South Wales
Here we look at the rood screen which I might add is 15th century and still looking stunning
The South side
Below is the altar
which as you can see has flowers either side
Looking back the other way towards the rood screen
Spotted this near the altar rails which looks like part of a tombstone
There is one over by the wall dated 1641, maybe I should have removed the chair ad desk out of the way go see more
At the back are these three memorials to the Lewis Family
above them are a couple of Funerary Hatchments which are fading a bit with age but no dount connected to the Lewis Family
This is one of the memorials which I had to take at this angle to miss one of the light hanging down
is to Sir Thomas Frankland Lewis
Sir George Cornewall Lewis
and the other to members of the same family
This memorial is faded with age and has staining on it from the iron pins in the pack holding it on the wall
Memorial to Douglas Fredrick Duff Gordon
On the base you can see the inscriptions
Above the figure of a woman holding a urn
which has some verse written around it
I think this was the only other stained glass widow in the church and one witch looks very revivalist
Go though the curtains at the end of the North Aisle behind the altar you can see this recessed tomb
On top of which is this Easter Sepulchre
Couple more interesting bit's. The two pictures on the left and the will on the right. A who was there asked if I knew any thing about the paintings thinking I was a bit of an expert. Admittedly I had seen it last time but no. She said they thought it came from another church that was demolished. The paintings need restoring and going in a museum really
One of the nice features in the church is this font, it's huge and dates from around the 8th century and has a bit of a local legend to it as well
The rood scree in the South Aisle chapel after it was restored, looks great don't you think
Looking the other way from the chapel and the step below where you can see some original Tudor Tiles before the Victorian ones
The Tudor Organ with one of the oil lamps in the foreground and a view along the North Aisle
How many of you look up well in the case of this church you need to as some of the carvings up in the ceiling are superb
We are talking Tudor carvings here
I glace up trying not to use flash and just turned it on to show the detail
The supports on the ends of the roof joists are carved as well
just a shame the detail did not come out as well but then I should have had a longer zoom than I had
The church was full of flowers for the wedding that had been held here so I will leave you with those
Looking down the aisle