Presteigne and St Andrew’s Church

Border-crossing again. Or were we? Presteigne is in Powys – but still in the Diocese of Hereford. We’ll call it a score-draw.

We went over partly to just enjoy the country town atmosphere – and were not disappointed, although we discovered that many shops etc are closed on both Mondays and Tuesdays. (Perhaps they have very devout and exhausting Welsh Sundays… or is trade just very slow?) And partly to look round the church of St Andrew, which is as so often an old foundation. Look at the lost Anglo-Saxon fenestration in the pictures; and “Presteigne” has the element “priests” in it (their household or their meadow), while in Welsh the place is Llanadras suggesting an early even pre-Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical enclosure dedicated to Andrew.

Also as so often, and very rightly, each subsequent generation has left its mark, including some artwork from the present day. You won’t be surprised to know that I enjoyed trying to make sense, though, of a pretty fruit salad of late-mediaeval stained glass fragments, all that is left of the original glazing. The fragments were squirrelled away in the parish chest after damage during the Civil War. Our eyes were also drawn to the many memorials including a wonderfully effusive one to Thomas and Elizabeth Owen, and two to long-serving clergy.

Also of note were the school for poor girls of 1850 (now the church hall) and – elsewhere in town – a plaque commemorating a girls’ school of 1860-70. Three cheers for a place taking the education of lasses seriously. Was the second one smarter, or for the “dissenters”, or …? However, I also read that, “All the Presteigne schools had difficulties establishing themselves. As late as 1905, a local teacher complained that there were many local children ‘who apparently went nowhere as they could be seen about the street at all hours during the day’.”(

And a little treat to finish with, parked near the Workhouse Gallery and Cafe on the edge of town ( where we’d hoped to get lunch but were hit by the opening time problem) was an Austin A35 very like 9432WB which was my dad’s first car. You can just see the trafficators if you look hard. We must go back.