This very interesting Perpendicular Grade1 Listed church has a commanding location above the Vale of Radnor and although a quiet parish church today, before the Reformation it was of collegiate status and contained several chapels.
St Stephen’s is probably best known for its linenfold panelled organ case which is reputed to be the earliest in Britain and for the ancient monolithic font too, but the oak coffered roof and late C15th screens are also among its treasures.
The Rood screen canopy runs the entire width of the church without interruption or any later added sections making it one of Britain’s longest at over fifty feet and the coeval parclose screens, although not entirely complete, are rare survivors.
Removed and sadly lost are the panels of the Rood Loft which by evidence of the mortices and panel grooves, ran the full length of the screen. It was recorded shortly before Reordering work began in 1865 that these panels were extant and painted with saints. However there is no obvious access on to the loft or evidence of any panelling on its Chancel side.
Above and within the screen
It is unfortunate that the C19th alterations were so extensive and heavy handed.The polychrome and gilt decoration was thoroughly stripped leaving only small patches of gold, red and yellow with hints of green.
Traces of Colour
We were surprised to discover that most of the 138 soffit bossses made in the C19th or later had been made in plaster to a single oak pattern and the surviving medieval ones were repositioned almost out of sight.
Some Additional Oak Bosses and Grapes
Referring to our Condition Survey we worked systematically along the Rood Screen on both the more extravagant west facing side, then the Chancel sidewhich was followed a few months later by the Parclose Screens which separate the Chancel from the Lady Chapel to the south and a chapel now taken up by the Tudor organ and a service area in which we found a scrathed “daisy wheel”.
Unusually for us we could be back at the workshop in ten minutes where we carved and repaired several metres of cresting and pendant bratishing, much of it C19th and later, but we remained faithful to the original work.
Cresting on a Parclose Screen
The missing and damaged blind tracery heads on the lower panels and the fragile pierced entry heads also took agreat deal of time to repair and reinstate.
Repair to a Parclose Wall Plate
Our conservation work at Old Radnor began in 2013 with a general survey of the Rood screen and the work was completed in late 2014.
Discoed, December 2019