The church of St Deinst nestles in the village of Llangarron in the south of Herefordshire. The name of the parish is derived from "Llan" meaning place and "Garron" being the name of a tributary of the Wye which runs through the heart of the village. An alternative view is that the village is named after the Welsh word “garan” which means a heron, stork or crane. This may explain the representation of such a bird in the church gates.
It is one of only two churches dedicated to this particular patron saint, the other being Itton church between Monmouth and Chepstow in Wales. St Deinst was a Celtic saint who died in 584 and tradition suggests he founded a church in Llangarron under his name, one which does not appear elsewhere in England. He is identified with St Deiniel or Deiniol who was an abbot-bishop of the 6th Century and to whom the mediaeval Bangor Cathedral was dedicated. St Deiniel also founded the monasteries of Bangor on the Menai Straits and Bangor Iscoed on the River Dee.
Records of a church in Llangarron go back as far as Edward the Confessor, when a wooden church was consecrated under the heirs of Ceheric ap Eleu and other Celtic names. It was subsequently re-consecrated under William 1 by Bishop Herwald as "Lan garan" church.
Throughout its life, Llangarron has been - like the nearby town of Monmouth - both Welsh and English. A charter of Monmouth Priory, made about 1150, names the church of Llangarron amongst "the churches which belong to the obedience of St Mary of Monemu". The parish was therefore originally under the care of the Benedictines.
It is not surprising to find that under the Reformation, Llangarron – with its scattered population and a large proportion of landed gentry living a retired life – became what was then termed a ”nest of popery”.
From 1600-1680 some 88 papists were listed as “recusants” and in 1652 four “malignants” had their estates forfeited for treason. It is interesting to note that, of the 88 names given as the recusants, no less than 26 were Kembles and Scudamores.
The Parish Registers date from 1569 but show a gap between 1633 and 1683. In 1926 the parish was described as being in the "Hereford division of that County, Wormelow Hundred, Harewood End petty sessional division, Ross County Court district and union, Archenfield Rural Deanery and Archdeaconry and Diocese of Hereford”.
Architecture and Construction
The church walls are of local sandstone and the roofs are covered with slates. The church - consisting of Chancel, Nave and West tower - was rebuilt in the second quarter of the 14th Century, the tower being rather later than the rest.
The South Porch was added in the 15th Century and the Chancel arch was rebuilt in the 16th Century.
Late in the 17th Century a North "ile" was built by Thomas Rawlins of Kilrege, who died in 1676. It was then considerably enlarged in 1841 for the cost of £390 whilst over £2,500 was needed to repair it in 1975.
There was a major restoration of the church in 1900 when the old box pews were removed and pitch pine pews installed.
The top of the spire was replaced in the 20th Century and the old one can be seen to the south-west of the tower where it is used as a sundial.
The church is Grade I Listed and has a fine collection of items and monuments dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries:
14th Century Font. This is a substantial, octagonal perpendicular font with quatrefoils on the bowl and tracery and fleurons on the stem.
15th Century Chrisom Child. This was originally thought to be a child’s gravestone. Some experts feel that the carving is too grotesque for that and possibly represents a memorial stone to a priest of an earlier church before the Norman Conquest, while others have even said it could be St Deinst himself!
Jacobean Pulpit c. 1630
Church Plate. Includes cup and cover-paten of 1683 given by Ann Ballard and a silver-gilt flagon of 1683 given by Thomas Gwillym of Langstone Court.
Various Monuments. These include one in the sanctuary of the east wall to William Gwillym in 1608 and another in the south wall to Rowland Scudamore, 1697.