Historic Powys church aims to increase community use through new facilities – and a coffee shop

A Mid Wales church with its roots dating back nearly 1,500 years to one of the original Princes of Powys is attempting to increase its community use through an expanded community coffee shop and improved accessibility.

St Tysilio and St Mary’s Church at Meifod, near Welshpool, Powys, has called on a local architect’s practice to help enhance its facilities, making it more useable by the local community, worshippers and even customers to a coffee shop it plans to expand, while protecting its historic status.

Building design and planning consultants Hughes Architects are working with the church and Rev Jane James to create a new area within the Grade I listed structure to broaden its reach.

The original church was built on the site in 550AD by, although it was in 1154 when Madoc ab Meredydd, the Prince of Powys, constructed a new church, with the current structure dating back to 1500AD and a new aisle added in 1838.

“It’s a very interesting project with an objective of creating more community space and enhancing the worshippers experience,” said Doug Hughes, managing director and principal architect at Hughes Architects.

“The history of the church and its Grade I listed status means any work has to be very carefully integrated and we’re working with the Diocese and ancient monuments organisation CADW to ensure everything is done in keeping with the structure.”

The work includes screening off part of the church with an oak and glass screen between arches and introducing heating and sympathetic lighting to create a smaller and more manageable space for worship and community events, particularly in the winter months.

A new disabled access ramp will also be introduced along with other work to improve access.

The new facilities will allow the church to extend the opening times of a coffee shop it currently opens within the church.

Rev James said it was important for the church to develop new opportunities that integrated with the local community and parishioners.

Rev James said: “We are at the heart of the local community and we need to reach out to everyone within it, from the parishioners who worship here to those living and working around us.

“Through the carefully thought out plans and sensitive changes we will be able to enhance the facilities we have to the whole community, providing a hub for activities.”

Hughes Architects, which has offices in Welshpool and Newtown, Powys and Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, is experienced at working with listed buildings as well as residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Photo: Meifod Church PCC members David Ward (left), Frances Ward (church warden) and Maggis Baldock (right) with Siwan Geraint of Hughes Architects (second from right) outside the church