A BUILDINGS preservation charity attempting to preserve one of Gwent’s oldest churches is asking for residents’ help after it emerged the building could be turned into a house.

Project Treftadeth Llanarth Cymru Heritage Llanarth Wales began last week to try and preserve St Teilo’s Church at Llanarth, near Raglan, with a feasibility study set to explore alternative options for the church now under way.

The Village Alive Trust (VAT) called for a feasibility study after it emerged last year that the prominent grade two listed building was up for sale on property website Hutchings and Thomas as a development opportunity for a house.

South Wales Argus:

Village Alive Trust chairman Pat Griffiths (left) with members at a recent conservation meeting

The church, which closed in 2013 after the Church in Wales (CiW) decided the cost for repairs was too high, is one of the last remaining examples of gothic architecture in Wales and is thought to date back to at least the 15th century.

VAT, which has conserved local listed buildings since 2004, has gained the support of the CiW to look for ways to enable the building to remain accessible to local people and for Christian celebrations.

Trust chairman Pat Griffiths, who was married at the church over 40 years ago and saw her late father and mother, 92, serve as wardens in the church, expressed her sadness at the plight of the building.

“As soon as I saw the sale sign outside the church, I felt I had to raise awareness,” she said.

“It would be a terrible shame to see a church with so much tradition be turned into a house.

“I contacted Rev Dr Jean Prosser MBE, the trust’s founder and company secretary, and we decided that we must try to save the building with new uses.”


Given that the graveyard on the site is still used, Ms Griffiths said she believes it is doubly strange to consider it suitable as a home.

“It wouldn’t easily be turned into a house anyway, as it’s a big and traditional church with a high ceiling and few windows,” she added.

“We feel strongly that new plans for the church need to complement the excellent village hall, the sports association in Llanarth, and the community, which has already lost shops, schools and a post office over the years.

South Wales Argus:

Village Alive Trust member Chris Fleming-Jones with the trust's banner outside St Teilo's Llanarth Church

“We want to cast the net out in order to ask for opinions on future uses for a building which has given spiritual comfort and community focus for generations.”

With the support of the Architectural Heritage Fund, trust funds and public donations, the charity is commissioning a study of costs and projected uses which will result in a full project plan being formulated which can be used to bid for further grant funding to bring a solution to concerns.

Ms Griffiths added: “A lot of money, goodwill and voluntary help is going to be required to save this church building 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.

“Heritage Lottery Fund grant aid may be accessible, for instance, but a project needs wide 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.”

Ideas so far are wide-ranging, including proposals for a reflective space for love one’s cremated ashes to kept in memorial niches.

Other ideas include exhibition spaces or a space for festivals in the Christian calendar, with CiW not yet writing off future religious services at the church.

If you would like to have your say on the future of Llanarth Church, you can do so until April 1, by emailing village.alive@btinternet.com, or posting a letter to Village Alive Trust’s offices at Yew Tree Estate Farm, Llangattock Lingoed, Abergavenny, NP7 8NS.