Talley or Talyllychau is a small village in rural Carmarthenshire on the B4302 seven miles north of Llandeilo. The village is perhaps best known for the ruins of Talley Abbey (a former Premonstratensian abbey) and its two lakes. In the sixteenth century Talley Abbey was largely destroyed by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
When Talley Abbey closed in 1536, there was an Abbot and seven canons resident there. For the next 236 years the canons’ choir and the presbytery were used as the parish church, a smaller church being created in what was then the shell of the old abbey. The accommodation was not very comfortable and the parish did not have sufficient finances to improve the building or keep it in a state of good repair.
At the Vestry meeting in 1772 it was agreed that a new church should be built and the foundation was laid on the 20th April 1773. Material from the abbey was used and a Mr Rees John was paid 8/6 (42½p) for hauling large beams from the tower of the Abbey. The new church was built just north of the Abbey, between the ruins and the lakes. When removing stones from the abbey for the construction of the new church many bones were unearthed and these were carefully re-buried within the churchyard. The new church was dedicated to St Michael and All Angels and is still in use today, where its small, loyal congregation continue the tradition of providing Christian worship and support to the local community.
The design and layout of the church is unusual in that it has two aisles and two doors at the west end. It is said by some that this is due to the church being constructed around a full set of box pews taken from the old church which had been built within the abbey shell. Whatever the truth might be, the pews are an important feature in the church and visually, though not physically, they are greatly admired. The doors of the pews are numbered, a reminder of the days when pew rents were paid.
The church sponsors a local Newsletter called Y Llychau which is distributed to every house in the parish and can be viewed on the community website, www.talley.org.uk/y-llychau. Regular events organised by the present church congregation include a Combined Service (with the Methodist Chapel, Baptist Chapel and Evangelical Church in the parish) during Christian Aid Week each year, the annual Strawberry Tea, the Harvest Supper, the Christmas Fair, the Christingle service and (a recent innovation) an annual Gilbert & Sullivan evening in church. Flower Festivals in church are arranged occasionally.
The village It has an active Community Association that manages the Talley Woodlands and organises local events such as the Talley Open Gardens Day in June each year.
There is also a Talley Community website (www.talley.org.uk) where more information about the village can be seen.