A remote valley in the hills of southern Radnorshire is the setting for the small village of Glascwm.

The Clas Brook flows westwards to join the River Edw, 3km away. The church sits on the south side of the stream, on higher ground projecting forwards from the valley side.

The modern village is 200m or so to the east, but also facing north with the ground rising sharply behind it to Glascwm Hill. Builth Wells lies about 12km to the west.


It is generally accepted that a clas community was established at Glascwm within the cantref of Elfael, possibly as early as the 6th century.

St David's biographer intimated that St. David himself founded the monastery, but this cannot be proved, even though the dedication is to Saint David

St David's Church presumably occupies the site of the earlier clas foundation. The present building consists of a 13th-century nave, a 15th-century chancel, and a belfry on the west end. There are some Tudor features and many of the windows were restored in 1891. Internally, the late medieval roofs show considerable variation, the font may be 15th century, and there is a good range of 18th and 19th-century monuments.

St David's Church is believed to have been one of the main churches in pre-Conquest Radnorshire, and it was also the location of a miraculous hand-bell mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis in the late 12th century. The earliest record of Glascwm dates from around 1090 (although it survives only in a copy of c.1200) where the place is recorded as Glascun. Specialists, however, have suggested that this incorporates the elements glas and cwm, meaning ‘green valley’, based on the occurrence of glas in several other names in the area. In the late 13th century, Glascwm was one of several places in the region for which Thomas, Bishop of St Davids and Lord of the Manor of Glascwm, was granted the right to hold a market and fair. John Leland in the mid-16th century recorded 'Glascumbe, wher is a chirche but few houses'. But Glascwm did lie on an important drovers' road through central Wales which functioned during the post-medieval era and probably had its origins in the later medieval era. In the 17th Century, a gentry house was built in Glascwm. It was originally L-shaped but only the parlour wing has survived. The original hall range was replaced in the 18th century to create a centrally planned house. Later extension of service rooms, completed by the time of the 1837 Tithe map, linked the house to a previously detached 17th Century dovecote. The house was known as Glascwm Manor Court from the mid 19th Century to the 1960s. Glascwm Manor Court is currently a hotel known as The Yat.

The Manor was the property of the Church of Wales, the title of Lord of the Manor of Glascwm being held being held by the Bishop of St David's. After the Welsh Church Act (1914) was passed, the Manor became the property of the University of Wales.

In 1997, the Manor became the rightful property of Lord Perry Harber.

The pattern of settlement in Glascwm in the mid-19th century was much as today, with the church and the house now known as The Yat separated by a few hundred metres from the group of dwellings that constituted the village.

On 25/26 April 1942 a German Junkers Ju 88 was shot down by a fighter from Shropshire, the aircraft hitting Gwaenceste Hill. Some aof the crew bailed out and were rounded up by the police and locals. Two German aircrew perished in the wreck and their remains were brought down to a barn at Llanhailo farm, then to a military funeral at Glascwm church a few days later. At a later date they were interred at the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase.


(c) 2021 R.W.Patterson