St Idloes, Llanidloes, Powys

Llanidloes is an attractive small market town in mid-Wales. From the outside, its parish church looks nothing out of the ordinary, with its rugged 14th c. tower and pyramidal timber belfry typical of the Marches on each side of the border; inside is another matter.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s was bad news for the religious life of Britain, and many of the monastic buildings themselves have just left a few piles of stones in the ground. The Welsh Cistercian abbey of Cwmhir, situated just north of Llandrindod Wells, is no exception, but very soon after its dissolution in 1536 several of the 13th c. arcade piers were acquired by the parishioners of Llanidloes and used to build a new N arcade, as part of the reconstruction of their parish church. Transporting these weighty stones some 15 miles to Llanidloes was no small undertaking, yet very soon the parishioners were finishing the job, with the construction of a new hammerbeam roof.

A tradition that the roof also came from the Abbey was disproved a few years ago, whenadvanced dendrochronological dating showed that the timber for the roof was cut down in 1538, so it is almost certainly the last angel roof to be made (it bears the date 1542). In the latter years of Henry VIII, religion in the parishes remained strictly orthodox, whatever was going on elsewhere, so the angels above your head carry shields with the Instruments of the Passion – spear and sponge on reed encircled by the crown of thorns; and scourging pillar with cords.

Pray the Litany:

By thine Agony and bloody Sweat;
by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial;
by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension:
and by the coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord deliver us.