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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 17:18 GMT
Roof appeal for ancient church
St Teilo's Church
St Teilo's Church is in need of a roof
An ambitious project to rebuild a medieval church, stone by stone, has led to an appeal for authentic roofing materials.

Staff at the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans in Cardiff are painstakingly rebuilding the 13th century St Teilo's Church, which it is hoped will become a key visitor attraction.

The massive project to reconstruct a church from the pre-Reformation period is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain and has taken more than 11 years.

The project team is now appealing to find authentic stone tiles to fit on the church roof.

Work on the church includes refurbishing rare wall paintings, dating from the 16th century.

St Teilo Church, reconstruction
The church under reconstruction

St Teilo's stood for centuries at Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, Pontarddulais, near Llanelli, and featured medieval fittings such as a rood screen and loft.

Other original features, including altars and a font, are being reinstated during the project work, which can now be watched from a viewing platform.

Leah Jones, the project's educational interpreter, said: "We have completed the roof on the north chapel and five new arched collar trusses are in position with their batons in the chancel and nave, ready for tiling.

"The Victorians changed the church roof to Welsh slate and over the years, the original stone tiles have been lost.

"We desperately need large stone tiles for the south aisle."

St Teilo's will stand alongside a series of other traditional Welsh buildings on the site, including shops, a bakery and cottages.

St Teilo's, pictured in February 2002
St Teilo's, pictured in February 2002

The last service was held at Pontarddulais in 1970 and the vicar, Reverend John Walters, said he was delighted to see the church taking on a new lease of life.

Historian Dr Madeleine Grey, from the University of Wales, Newport, said the church's extremely rare paintings include a picture of St Catherine with a spiked wheel.

The wheel was used by the Romans to try to torture her to death and the picture also includes the spear with which the saint was eventually killed.

On the south wall, there is a picture of Christ, before the crucifixion, roped and bound and sitting before the cross, said Dr Grey.

The painstaking restoration has caught the public's imagination too, drawing more than 1,000 enquiries and additional interest from academics.

  • St Teilo led a Christian community in south Wales in the sixth century.

    According to legend, he fled with his followers to Brittany when yellow fever broke out in Wales, before eventually returning to Llandaff in Cardiff, where he died in 566AD.

    Museum revives prefab spirit
    14 Sep 01 |  Wales

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