DISSERTH

 

 

Take the road south from Llandrindod Wells, and turn right after a mile or so. As you crest a rise, the hidden church with whitewashed walls suddenly reveals itself ahead, in a hollow by the Ithon. Its patron is Cewydd, a 6th century Radnorshire saint, the Saint Swithin of his day, known as Cewydd y Glaw (Cewydd the Rain). Its tower looks early 14th century; inside is about the most unrestored interior in the land, with a three-decker pulpit of 1687 against the south wall, surrounded by box pews. The pews bear dates, ranging from 1666 to 1722, the initials of their inhabitants, and in some cases their names, like MRS CRUMMER and JAMES WATT ESQRE. That's the James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, who retired to nearby Doldowlod. Along the north wall there's what looks like a bench for servants; above are the faded Royal Arms of Queen Anne, and you feel that not much has changed in Disserth since then. A bigger surprise awaits at the east end, as the small altar is flanked by two box pews against the wall: a very rare arrangement paralleled in just one parish church, Easton (Suffolk), also late 17th century. You won't find Disserth in Addleshaw and Etchells, but it is honoured in Nigel Yates' Buildings, Faith and Worship. Go to Mid-Wales and enjoy this priceless liturgical time capsule.

 

 

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