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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Garmon , Llanarmon-yn-Ial

Llanarmon-yn-Ial Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanarmon-Yn-Ial in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1907656159.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16808 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanarmon-yn-Ial Church, CPAT copyright photo 880836.JPG

Summary

St Garmon's church is a double-naved structure that occupies a central spot in the village of Llanarmon-yn-Ial, 4 miles south-east of Ruthin. The church underwent considerable rebuilding in the 1730s, and possibly at other times; possibly only the west end of the north nave is medieval in date. Inside, the main features of interest are two medieval effigies and the Llwyd memorial of 1639, together with the late medieval roofs. The churchyard is sub-rectangular, but the southern extremity has been truncated in the past. It contains few monuments since it was drastically cleared in the 1960s, but does contain a sundial that utilises the base of the old churchyard cross.

The building sequence is difficult to determine. One possibility is that the west wall of the north nave is largely original, and the survival of its quoins immured in the west face indicates the cell was earlier than the south nave which butts against it. Thus it is likely that the original medieval building was enlarged by the addition of a southern nave, late in the medieval period. In the absence of diagnostic architectural features it can only be assumed that like most other double-nave churches this was a 15thC design.

North wall and north-west angle rebuilt, perhaps in 1736, though the equivocal signs of insertion might possibly indicate that the wall masonry is earlier than the windows. East end of the church extended at an unknown date, but probably in 1736 using some new material but also re-using older masonry. South wall rebuilt at the same time as north wall. West wall of south nave rebuilt, perhaps in 1736, perhaps at a later date.

An alternative would be to see the north and south walls as original though with inserted windows, the east end extended in the 18thC, and the west end on the north side rebuilt. This however fails to take account of the surviving south-west corner immured in the later wall of the south nave.

Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1986 publication The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd by Edward Hubbard

History

In the early medieval period Llanarmon was a clas church.

It was recorded as 'Ecclesia de Sancto Germano' at a value of 2 in the Taxatio of 1254 and as 'Ecclia de Lanarmavn', valued at 14 1s 8d, in 1291. The church was, however, damaged in the wars of the late 13thC and there is a record of compensation being paid in 1284.

The rural dean's report for 1709 indicated that ostensibly the church was in good repair. However, it was largely rebuilt in 1736 - articles of agreement still survive for 1733 which perhaps relate to this work. The stone arcade was replaced in timber by Edward Whetnall, a Wrexham carpenter, but the late medieval roofs were retained. Of this date also are the round-headed windows, south porch and south doorway.

A gallery was added at the west end of the south nave in 1759 and then extended in 1781. The porch was reportedly enlarged in 1774 to take a new hearse.

Glynne visited the church sometime in the mid-19thC, and considered that all the walls had been rebuilt though on the earlier foundations, the windows replaced, and the original roofs re-used.

Restoration occurred in 1870 by Douglas at a cost of c.700; at this time some Gothic windows were added and the bracing to the colonnade; the box pews were removed, and probably the gallery too.

Further restoration occurred in 1906, in the late 1920s, when a heating chamber was constructed beneath what was then the vestry, and in the 1970s.

Architecture

The church is double-naved though the north nave and chancel is slightly wider than the south nave which now functions as an aisle. There is a south porch and a west bellcote over the north nave.

The church is oriented on a south-west/north-east axis but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for the building, though not for the churchyard.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of grey limestone blocks, roughly dressed and irregularly coursed; massive slabs are used for foundation courses and as quoins at west end of north nave. 'B' has masonry which is slightly rougher and less regular than 'A'; the stone is generally smaller and there are occasional 'foreign' inclusions such as lumps of yellow sandstone; some of the material is obviously packing. 'C' is similar to 'A' but the limestone is fractionally lighter and more uniform in colour; in addition pink and yellow sandstone blocks incorporated. 'D' also limestone with some sandstone; considerable render survival; possibly the same fabric as 'C'.

Roof: slates, grey clay ridge tiles of simple design; stone cross finial at east end of north nave; dressed stone antefixes to ends of south nave. Ball finial to porch. Porch has sandstone ridge tiles.

Bellcote has double aperture for two bells and is constructed of dressed limestone with ashlar quoins.

Drainage: concrete soakaway gully around whole church including porch. A trench beneath?

Exterior

North Nave. General. Chancel divide marked by buttress.

North wall: from west: i) sloping buttress rising to c.1.6m at north-west angle, appearing to act as a reinforcing batter; ii) round-headed window in buff-yellow freestone, no chamfers, projecting keystone, imposts and rim of sill. Around the window could be 'B' but not easy to define for no clear demarcation, though curious gold lichen stain appears to be restricted to it; iii) another window as ii) but no convincing evidence of insertion; iv) window as ii) with very limited signs of insertion; v) buttress in dressed limestone and probably relatively recent in date.

East and South walls: not present.

West wall: wall face obscured by heavy snail pointing which has spread over some of the masonry to form a render-like coat. Also an earlier render coat, discernible on 'C' but less obviously on 'A'. Juncture of the two fabrics visible as a colour change to north of west door. This is round-headed, of two chamfered orders and with much-weathered 'arrowhead' stops in pink and buff-yellow sandstone. But the arrises are sharp and most of the dressed stonework could be renewed, the exception perhaps the stones at the base of the doorway. Above door is an ornate lampholder. Gable topped by bellcote in better dressed limestone; at its base is a small rectangular slit window with only the sill and lintel chamfered. For southern corner of this cell see west wall of south nave below.

North Chancel. North wall: continuation of north nave wall in 'A'. One window with paired, cusped lights in pale yellow freestone. Evidence of packing, including possible re-used dressed stonework, around window and heavy mortar specific to that packing. Final 2m of north wall rebuilt or, on the evidence of the straight butt joint, extended in Fabric 'D', some of which is re-used masonry.

East wall: mainly in 'D'; east window of three stepped lights with decorative relieving arch; the lights have two-centred arches with cusping, and roundels above the two outer lights. More regular masonry in the gable indicates rebuilding presumably at the time that this window inserted

South Nave and Chancel. General. No external differentiation between the two cells.

East wall: masonry not adequately characterised; possibly 'D'. Window is 18thC, a larger version of the round-headed windows on north side of church, and no indication that inserted.

South wall: because of the pointing characterisation of the masonry is difficult at east end. Between south-east corner and first window is i) a projecting chimney stack in dressed limestone. Beyond i) the fabric is 'A', there is little relict render and ii) a standard 18thC round-headed window; iii) next, in what is the nave, a blocked doorway, some of the blocking in squared sandstone, some with render traces; the dressed stone of the doorway has gone but the 'ghost' outline points to a round-headed opening; iv) another standard window with perhaps some packing beneath it; v) the porch which clearly abuts the nave wall; vi) another 18thC round-headed window. Both of these nave windows had shutters at some time.

West wall: sealed within this wall and just to the south of downpipe that drains the valley between the two roofs is the corner of the north nave, quoins in pink and yellow freestone showing beneath the heavy pointing. Difficult to characterise the masonry but may be 'C'-type. A single chamfered lancet in pale yellow freestone; no sign of insertion.

Porch. General. In dressed limestone like 'C' but no render residue.

East and west walls: plain.

South wall: round-headed doorway, the dressings in yellow sandstone; similar to windows for projecting keystone but not imposts. Light above the archway.

Interior

Porch. General. Slate flag floor; walls plastered and painted; roof plastered but two purlins exposed.

North wall: standard 18thC round-headed doorway and pilaster jambs; heavy nailed door has decorative hinges. Rest of wall plastered.

East wall: stone bench with worn sandstone seating. Incorporated Church Building Society board recording grant of 75 towards repairs in 1916.

South wall: nothing of significance.

West wall: bench as east wall.

Nave. General. Stone slab floor, no obvious graveslabs, but carpet over some of it including the aisle; benches on flush wooden boarding. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of six bays with arch-braced collar trusses and raking struts; trusses spring from wall top on north and, on the south, from corbels set at an angle; two tiers of cusped windbraces.

North wall: three splayed windows; brass of 1731, together with 20thC memorials.

East wall: step separates this from chancel.

South wall: three and a half bays of five-bay timber arcade, with octagonal pillars and circular capitals, and braced with cusped struts. Of "unsophisticated but engaging character" (Hubbard). One mural tablet of 1835 at the extreme west end and beneath it a niche containing the statuette of a saint.

West wall: Four mural tablets of 18thC date: 1723, 1753, 1782 and 1799.

Chancel. General. One step up from nave. Floor with carpet, and walls as nave. Roof has one bay as the nave and two bays without struts but with the principal purlin and the side purlins retaining a little bit of brattishing; the indications are that originally there was a wagon roof.

North wall: one splayed window and one 19thC brass.

East wall: splayed main window.

South wall: one and a half bays of timber colonnade as nave.

West wall: step down to nave.

South nave. General. West end partitioned off for vestry. Slab floor but no obvious sign of re-use, apart from a memorial slab to a vicar (d.1781), under the vestry partition. Flush wooden boards under seating. Radiators with pipes now provide heating but there is a heating grille just inside the south door. Roof has five full bays, with a quarter bay at the west end and a three-quarter bay at the east. Of similar form with its struts and windbraces to north nave, but out of alignment with the nave itself.

North wall: arcade as south wall of north nave. Memorials of 1759 to 1818 and 1743 to 1761, one above the other, on wall in vestry.

East wall: step up in line with division between north nave and chancel.

South wall: splayed window (with another in vestry); three memorial tablets of 1700, 1723 and 1810 (in vestry); and a coat-of-arms east of south door.

West wall: splayed window embrasure, otherwise nothing of interest.

South 'Chapel'. General. Floor of stone slabs and wooden boarding. Roof of two and three-quarter bays, the trusses as in the nave except for that against the east wall which has no struts. Organ and two effigies on chests occupy this part.

North wall: arcade as south wall of north chancel.

East wall: splayed window.

South wall: one splayed window and the ghost of another round-headed window of the same height, in line with the external chimney; its western side is cut by the alcove for the Llwyd monument of 1639.

Churchyard

Llanarmon has a medium-sized churchyard, now sub-square in form with rounded corners, with the church itself centrally placed. It is evident that the southern segment has been detached for the construction of Tan-yr-ysgol and its garden - when this is taken into account the churchyard appears more curvilinear. It is set on the edge of the Alun valley, the southern side of the churchyard dropping away towards the river. It is well maintained.

Boundary: a stone retaining wall on the west with material slightly embanked behind it, and an external drop of over 1m. Wall continues around the north where the external drop is smaller, but this increases to nearly 1.5m on the east. A hedge on top of a low wall divides the present churchyard from the garden of Tan-yr-ysgol.

Monuments: sparse graves on the south though some grassed over; more to the west including modern ones, and a further group to the north-east of the church. Sporadic graves on the east. The churchyard was cleared of many stones in the 1960s and some were used to revet the bank of a stream nearer Llandegla.

Furniture: south-west of the church is part of the shaft of a churchyard cross, converted to take a sundial in 1774. Octagonal column is around 1m high with much eroded broach stops at the base. The plate has gone, but even in the 19thC Owen had difficulty in deciphering its inscription and claimed it was 'unused and useless'.

Earthworks: church sits on a sub-square platform, traceable for almost the full circuit, and defined by a gentle scarp bank, which might be of natural origin, on the south side of the church.

Ancillary features: tarmac paths, wrought iron gate on the west, large ornate double gates on the north with a single gate adjacent, and a smaller iron gate in the south-east. Adjacent to the main entrance on the north is a hearse house.

Vegetation: one mature yew west of the church, deciduous trees around west and north boundary, and others of smaller size beside path coming in from north.

Sources consulted

Archaeologia Cambrensis 1859, 202-207
Articles of Agreement 1733: DRO/PD/43/1/36
CPAT Field Visit: 14 January 1997
Faculty: St Asaph 1927 (NLW)
Glynne 1884, 258
Gresham 1968, 167; 182
Hubbard 1986, 186
Neaverson 1953-54, 12
Owen 1886, 89
Pritchard n.d.
Quinquennial Review 1988
Quinquennial Review 1996
Ridgway 1997, 111
Click here to view full project bibliography

Please note that many rural churches are closed to the public at certain times. It is advisable to check when the church will be open before visiting. Information about access, or how to contact parish clergy, can often be obtained from the relevant Diocesan Office which can be found through the Church in Wales website. Further information about Llanarmon-yn-Ial Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.


The CPAT Denbighshire Churches Survey Project was funded by Cadw as part of an all Wales survey of medieval parish churches.

This HTML page has been generated from the Cadw Churches Survey database & CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record - 17/07/2007 ( 22:01:32 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 7a Church Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7DL tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email - chrismartin@cpat.org.uk, website - www.cpat.org.uk.

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