St John's, Llandenny


Llandenny Parish Hall

Once the Village school, the Llandenny Parish Hall welcomes groups to use the hall for get-togethers, meetings and receptions.

St John's Church History

A church at Llandenny is first mentioned in the Book of Llandaff which dates the site between the years 800 to 900. It has a typical long nave  with a perfectly preserved Norman window and a high three-staged castellated tower.

The origin of the place name Llandenny is lost in the mists of time but there is a little evidence to enlighten us.  A charter from about A.D. 781 records a land transaction associated with the placename Mathenny, which has been interpreted as Maes Tenni, the field of Tenni.  Alas then, there is no Saint Denny, nor is the church dedicated to anyone with this name.

The church appears in another charter, that of Usk Priory, in 1330, where it, together with the tithes and rents from the parish and lands there is granted to the nuns serving the Church of St mary.

Between 1895 and 1953, Llandenny had its own Vicar, who lived next door to the church.  It is now groups with the parishes of Raglan (as it was in former times) and Bryngwyn to the north and north-west.

The building:  Although there is relatively little to see now of the Norman church - that it was a Norman church is without doubt.  As you enter the South door, you cannot fail to notice the semi-circular archway. It does not seem that Llandenny every possessed a richly carved doorway such as we see in many Norman churches, but we can speculate that above the door there would have been a richly carved tympamim perhaps depicting a tree of life, but the local sandstone has not lasted well.

Almost opposite, once you enter, you will see a perfectly preserved Norman window with its small glass pane flush with the outside wall and with a deeply splayed recess.  That this window is undoubtedly old is attested to by the way the buttress outside is but away so as to avoid the window opening.

The proportions of the building indicate its early Norman origin, as it seems certain that during the later alterations, such as the insertion of more modern windows, the main structure of the walls, doors and so on would have been preserved.  It is difficult to imagine how the church would have looked then because it would have ben plastered throughout (the plaster was only removed about a hundred years ago) and brightly painted with religious and secular decorations.  There survive some slight indications of the positions of some of the other windows.

By the pulpit there are two recesses of unknown purpose. They may have been an  aumbrey where altar vessels, linen and service books were stored.

At the western end there is a three-staged castellated tower, with a steep spiral staircase of oak in the north-east corner.  This emerges via a small castellated turret onto the roof, from which fine views of the Olway Valley and the surrounding district may be obtained  In the tower is a ring of six bells originally given to Raglan church by Miss Bosenquet in 1860.  The story is that she later decided that they were too noisy, and had them sent here!  they are in need of substantial restoration, and cannot be rung.

The church was restored in Victorian times, with the addition of a vestry which contains a plain wooden Parish chest dating from 1749, the Porch, which served as the school for a period and the series of steps leading up to the alter.

The Rood Screen:  In the south wall is all that remains of the rood loft, a short spiral staircase lit by a small window, that would have led to the top of a carved screen that served to separate the secular nave from the consecrated chancel.  Above the screen there would have been the Holy Rood, a carving of Christ on the cross, waited upon by Mary and St John, the Apostle and Evangelist, (to whom the church is now dedicated).  Rood screens mostly date from the 14th century, and were almost all destroyed after a decree issued in 1560.  Three surviving examples in the area well worth a visit are at Llangwm, Bettws Newydd and Partrishow.

The Font:  

Traditionally, the font would have been by the main entrance, symbolizing the entry into the Church of the person being baptized, and it is still possible to see where it was before being moved to its present position in the tower.  It has an ornamented octagonal bowl, and is dated 1661.  On the window ledge by the font there is what may be the remains of a piscina and stoup, supposedly dug up in a field called Church Field.

The Altar:  

This is a single stone slab as were all altar's in pre-Reformation times.  We can find no trace of the usual five incised consecration crosses that symbolize the Five Wounds of Christ.

Other Woodwork:  The visitor will be struck by the large carved oak memorial panels in the chancel.  These were made by a former Vicar, Joshua Stansfield, earlier this century. Other work of his can be seen i Whitebrook chapel.

Cefn Tilla:  Just outside the village is Cefn Tilla, the seat of Lord Raglan.  This fine house was given to an earlier Lord Raglan by the nation after his services in the Crimea.  A number of his family are buried int he churchyard and commemorated inside the church in stone and glass.  Earlier n its history, it served as the headquarters of the besiegers of Raglan Castle.

The Churchyard:  

The church is approached through a fine lych-gate, restored by Lord Raglan. It is said that there are on it several mason's marks that also appear on stones at Raglan Castle.  

There is also a restored Preaching Cross. there are a number of young yews, and part of the enclosure is kept as a Nature reserve.

A Plan of Church:

@G.K. Russell. M.O. Russell, 1996

Llandenny 1886

Maps of Llandenny  old and new

St. John's Churchyard Cross, Llandenny

Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire,1901


LLANDENNY is a parish on the river Olway and on the road to Monmouth, with a station on the Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool section of the Great Western railway, 4 miles north-east from Usk, 153 by railway from London and 146 from London by road, in the, southern division of the county, hundred and petty sessional division of Raglan, union of Monmouth, Raglan and Trellech highway district, county court district of Usk, rural deanery of Usk (eastern division), archdeaconry of Monmouth and diocese of Llandaff.

The church of St. John is an ancient building of stone, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and a western tower containing 6 bells: the church was restored in 1865 and has 150 sittings. The register dates from the year 1714.

The living is a vicarage, net yearly income £30, without residence, in the gift of the Duke of Beaufort and held since 1893 by the Rev. Cecil Henry Fardell. The great tithes have been commuted at £330, the whole of which goes to the impropriator, who is also patron. There is a Baptist chapel. Charities amounting to £64 are distributed yearly in bread and money.

Cefntilla Court is the residence of the Right Hon.The Lord Raglan, D.L., J.P.   When General Fairfax attacked Raglan Castle he made Cefntilla his head quarters. The old mansion was rebuilt and, together with the property belonging to it, was presented to Lord Raglan in grateful recognition of the memory of his grandfather, Field Marshal Lord Raglan, commander of the British army in the Crimea, where he died in 1855.

The Duke of Beaufort, who is lord of the manor, Lord Raglan and G. G. Griffin esq. are the principal landowners. The soil is loam ; subsoil, clay. The chief crops are wheat and beans. The area is 2,298 acres of land and 4 of water; rateable value, £2,976 ; the population in 1891 was 389.

Post office: Mrs. Elizabeth Preece, sub-postmistress.
Letters arrive from Usk at 7.40 a.m. ; dispatched at 4.20 p.m. Postal Orders are issued here, but not paid. Raglan is the nearest money order & telegraph office, 3 miles distant.

Railway Station: John Brewer, Station master

National School (mixed) with a house for the mistress, for 50 children, average attendance, 30. Miss Jane Elwell, mistress.

Raglan, The Lord, D.L., J.P., Cefntilla Court; & 5 Barkston gardens & Guards' & Carlton clubs, London S W
Cadwallader Rashleigh Marchant, The Mount
Evans Mrs. Hill Cottage
Fardell Rev. Cecil Henry (vicar)
Herbert James, Llanerthil
Morgan Thomas, The Lodge
Moxham Mrs. Oakfield house
Powell Mrs. Sarah, Orchard Cottage
Steedman Robert
Stephens Mrs., The Elms

Andrews John, builder, Llanwecha
Anstey John, farmer, Little Rock
Bevan John, tailor, Woodbine Cottage
Davies John, carpenter & wheelwright
Davies John, Crown P.H.
Ethericlge Henry, farmer, The Walks
Evans John, farmer, Rhyd-y-mane
Evans Mary (Mrs.), farmer, Treworgan court
Frost Joseph & Eliza (Mrs.), farmer, Newhouse
Haggett Edith (Mrs.), Raglan Arms P.H.
James Robert, farmer, Pentre farm
James Robt. assistant overseer, Pentre farm
James Wm., farmer, Llandenny court
James Wm. jun., farmer, Rock farm
James William, farmer, Cayo
Mackenzie Andrew, Victoria inn
Mason Thomas Henry, butcher
Morgan Thos., shoe maker, Kingcoed
Offer John, farmer, The Ferns
Powell Edward, farmer, Colebrook. (letters through Raglan)
Preece, Elizabeth (Mrs.), shopkeeper and Post office
Pritchard George & Mary (Miss), farmers, Pergoed
Pritchard Thomas, farmer, Kingcoed
Robins Stephen, shopkeeper, Kingcoed
Rogers Thomas, farmer, Mardee
Thomas William, blacksmith

NOTE:  Llandenny Church records are held in the Gwent Record Office including Baptisms from 1710 - 1813; Marriages from 1711 - 1839 and Burials from 1710 - 1812 .  For more information go to Genuki.  Transcribed versions of the Church records are available at Monmouthshire Family History Records - Llandenny