The original medieval church was built on an ancient site and was extended and remodeled in the Tractarian-influenced Gothic Perpendicular style in 1873-4 by Charles Buckeridge (circa 1832–73), and John Loughborough Pearson (1817-97), mostly through the generosity of the Mitchells of Llanfrechfa Grange.
The church retains many remarkable features from across its history including the porch, with parts dating from the 9th century and an impressive 14th century integral tower. There is also a medieval preaching cross – which according to an inscription, was re-built in 1880 by Frank (Francis) Johnstone Mitchell (1824-1913) and Elizabeth Harcourt Mitchell née Rolls (1833 – 1910) of Llanfrechfa Grange in memory of Elizabeth’s parents: John Etherington Welch Rolls (1807-1870) and his wife Elizabeth Mary Rolls née Long (1813-1879).
Interior and stained glass windows of the church
Frank (Francis) and Elizabeth Mitchell are commemorated in the window nearest the vestry (see above). It shows St Francis of Assisi, St Elizabeth with her young son John the Baptist, and St David. It was dedicated to the Mitchells in 1914.
This three light window above the altar features symbols of the saints – The Man (St Matthew), The Lion (St Mark), The Ox (St Luke) and the Eagle (St John) – and many other saints and prophets. It was made in memory of Frances Elizabeth Mitchell (d. 1860) and her eldest daughter Frances Mary Mitchell (d. 1873).
The North Wall Sanctuary Window
This window was retained from the previous church and enlarged. The left side depicts Christ Blessing the Children and is in memory of Frances Charlotte Prothero – who died at just 4 years old in 1847. She was the daughter of Charles and Sophia Prothero – owners of Llanfrechfa Grange (1848-60). The right side depicts ‘Touch Me Not’, and is in memory of Captain Robert MacDonald of the 74th Highlanders, born 1825, who died at Pondicherry, East Indies in 1854.
The window nearest the pulpit is the Crucifixion and Healing the Lame (c. 1884, Lavers & Westlake), in memory of Laura Mitchell who died aged 56 on 18th January 1884. Laura was the second daughter of Francis Henry Mitchell.
The middle window in the south wall of the nave is in memory of Francis Henry Mitchell (d. 9th August 1891) aged 96 years and shows Jesus as The Sower and as the Good Shepherd (c. 1891, Lavers & Westlake).
The Church also has a number of memorials to those from the Parish of Llanfrechfa, some of whom were killed in combat.
A brass bookplate displayed on the south wall of the Church commemorates 46 men who were killed in the Great War (1914-18). There is also a plaque dedicated to Second Lieutenant Rupert Colerick Laybourne Pilliner, 127th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, All Saints Church, Llanfrechfa.
A memorial window to Edward Styant Williams who was killed in action at the Second Battle of Ypres, May 8th 1915. This window was made by William Pearce, and beneath is a plaque with a short biography of Major Williams.
“To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Corporal David Denbury MM, QGM. 22nd SAS Regiment. Killed in Action during the Gulf War. 21st February 1991 aged 26 years.”
Faith, Hope and Love – (2017, North Nave Aisle)
More recently, a new window was dedicated in memory of the late Jon Abbott, and Denis and Joyce Drew in October 2017. The window was created by artist Helen Whittaker who has had pieces commissioned for Prince Charles and Westminster Abbey.
Jon Abbott lived in Llanfrechfa for 23 years. He had joined British Steel as a graduate and had risen to Finance Director at Llanwern when he retired. Jon was a regular and supportive member of the congregation. He was also a keen runner and could often be seen running in the local area. Sadly, instead of enjoying his retirement Jon almost immediately contracted a fatal lung disease.
Joyce and Dennis Drew moved into Ponthir village in October 1966. Dennis was a primary teacher by profession and worked in various schools in the area finishing as Head of Llanyrafon school. He was also a keen artist producing many paintings of the local area. He was born in Abersychan and was killed along with his wife Joyce, in a terrible road traffic accident in Ponthir. He and Joyce were always together and really enjoyed their lives, a truly happy couple. Dennis was well loved by his pupils and colleagues and was mourned by many in the area who would have been taught by or worked with him.
To find out more about the Church or to arrange a visit, please contact the Church Wardens:
Myfanwy Bowen: 01633 866385 and Angela O’Brien: 01633 422074
With thanks to Carol Carpenter
Photographs by Sarah Goodey 2018