Village Alive Trust
Village Alive Trust

Can you help save mothballed Llanarth Church for community use?

Llanarth-Church-21-01-20PROJECT Treftadaeth Llanarth Cymru Heritage Llanarth Wales begins in earnest this week as The Village Alive Trust, a local buildings preservation charity, instigates a feasibility study to explore options for the conservation and future use of the prominent Grade II* listed St Teilo’s Church at Llanarth, near Raglan.

The church is a rare example of Gothic style architecture in Wales but the high cost of essential repairs led to its closure in 2013 and the building was put up for sale in 2019. The Village Alive Trust, which has conserved local listed buildings since 2004, has gained the support of the Church in Wales (CiW) to look for ways and means to enable the building to remain accessible to local people and for Christian celebrations. The CiW has more than 90 redundant churches for sale across the country.

Village Alive Trust chairman, Pat Griffiths, was married at Llanarth over 40 years ago and was saddened to see a For Sale board go up as both her late father, and her mother, aged 92, had served St Teilo’s as church wardens.

She said, “I contacted Rev Dr Jean Prosser MBE, the Trust’s founder and company secretary, and we decided we must try to save this building with new uses, rather than see it converted into a house, amidst a working churchyard. Any new activities here must complement the excellent village hall and sports association in Llanarth – a village which has already lost schools, a post office and shop over the years.

“With the support of The Architectural Heritage Fund, Trust funds and public donations we are commissioning a study to investigate the costs of repairs and improvements and possible uses which can draw in revenue to maintain the church in future. These must fit in with ways in which the community and visitors can still benefit from this village landmark.

“We are looking at future uses for a building which has given spiritual comfort and community focus for generations. There is a beautiful stained glass window and an airy nave with historical plaques that we wish to conserve. Ideas so far are wide ranging, with one idea – for the chancel – to become a separate, quiet, reflective space for placing loved one’s cremated ashes in memorial niches.

“The nave area could benefit from underfloor heating with a new suspended floor helping easy access and this could be used for exhibition space or festivals or for concerts which require church acoustics. The tower bells were removed on closure and there is space now for a WC and servery with small offices above.

“The Trust will also look to ecologically manage the churchyard which is still in use, and to record families buried there so that details an be accessed and local history explored. Solar panels may be an option to help keep the church warm and dry in future and there is a community green energy grant scheme which could be applied for,‘ said Pat.

A thorough study of costs and projected uses put together byThe Village Alive Trust will hopefully result in a full project plan being formulated which can be used to bid for grant funding to bring a scheme to fruition.

“A lot of money, goodwill and voluntary help is going to be required to save this church from becoming yet another casualty. The Trust has expertise which is being willingly and freely given but we are urging anyone who has connections to the community or who has family graves at Llanarth to lend us support.

“Grants for this project may be available with community support to guarantee success. This can be as simple as ‘signing up’ that you would like to see this building remain, rather than be turned into a residence – possibly spoiling the sanctuary of the quiet churchyard.”

YOUR VIEWS MATTER

Please give us your answers by April 1st, 2020 to Village Alive Trust, Registered Office, Yew Tree Farm, Llangattock Lingoed, Abergavenny, NP7 8NS or email village.alive@btinternet.com

Question 1: Do you have a family link to the church and/or the churchyard?

Yes….No….

(if Yes please explain)………………………………………………………………………….............................................................................................................................................

Question 2: Do you want the church repaired so that it is part of the community again?

Yes….No….

(if Yes please give reasons)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Question 3: How would YOU like it to be used?

(Please list ideas)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..........................................................................................

Please provide your contact details if you would like to be involved or to hear about progress with this project (data only to be used to contact you about this project)

Name……………………………........................................................

Address………………………………………………………………………

Tel no:………………………………...................................................

E-mail:…………………………………………………………………........