St Cynllo, Llanbister, Powys

At first sight, the fortress-like Llanbister church seemed to have been wedged into the hillside. There’s been a church here since early mediaeval times; it was once a mother church for North Radnorshire.

Most of what you see today is late mediaeval, 13-16C.

Unexpectedly, the 16C. tower is at the east end, where it must have been so much easier to provide foundations. It is believed to contain stonework taken from the dissolved Cwmhir abbey; in 1701 it was reduced in height and capped with a timbered belfry typical of the Marches.

You enter the church through the south porch, possibly largely dating from the conservative restoration of 1908 by Caroe and Passmore. Your first surprise is the flight of steps up to the nave; it’s like being at Le Puy. Next you spot the sunken baptistery with walk-in facility, again dating from 1908, before looking up to the open-fronted West gallery of 1716.

Turn round and gaze down the long continuous interior, which has no division between nave and chancel other than the 16th century screen, with has an 18C pulpit next to it.

Beyond the screen, lies the culmination of your visit, the figure of Christ reigning from the cross above the altar, a splendid feature added in 1950.

Remember the last words of Blessed Miguel Pro, along with many Mexican and Spanish martyrs of the 20C: ‘Viva Cristo Rey!’ Pray for persecuted Christians everywhere. Long live Christ the King!

Map reference SO109733