Powys Digital History Project

St John's Chapel


Founded of ancient time
St John's Chapel, also known as Church Evan, is one of the earliest religious foundations in Hay. It is entirely separate from the parish church of St Mary.
The oldest known documentary reference to the chapel was in a survey of Chantry Chapels in Wales ordered by Henry VIII in 1545. In a reference to the parish of Hay it was recorded that "there is within the same parish one chappell called Saynt John's Chappell founded of Auncyente tyme by whom it is not known".

The chapel may have been an existing Celtic church which was taken over by the Normans when they reached Hay around 1100. The alternative name of Church Ifon or Church Evan may have come about as the Anglicised version of Ioan, the Welsh for John.

 Sketch map
showing the defensive
town walls, and the
location of St John's
within the enclosure

Sketch map of Hay The original parish church of St Mary, built around 1115, lay close to the first motte and bailey earthworks castle constructed by the Normans when they took Hay around 1100. This was on the western side of the present town close to the River Wye. A more substantial castle was needed later to house an enlarged garrison, and this was built around 1200 on high ground at the centre of the town.

With the addition of the defensive town walls in 1236 the church of St Mary was cut off from the enclosed settlement, so it is possible that St John's may have been built around this date to serve those within the town walls. As shown on the sketch map, St John's Chapel was at the heart of the once walled town, whilst the parish church of St Mary was well beyond the south western gate, on the banks of the River Wye.

There are 4 pages on St John's Chapel. Use the box links below to view the other pages.