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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Teyrnog , Llandyrnog

Llandyrnog Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llandyrnog in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ0196665342.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16838 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llandyrnog Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0159.JPG

Summary

St Teyrnog's church lies in the centre of the village of Llandyrnog, about 3 miles to the east of Denbigh. It is a double-naved structure which in its present form is certainly late medieval, any structural development being effectively masked by a ubiquitous coat of render. Perpendicular windows survive on the south side while others particularly the east windows have been totally renewed. Inside the late medieval roofs have been restored and there is the head from a priest's effigy, but it is the fragments of stained glass of c.1500 that stand out. Post-medieval fittings include a parish chest, a poor box dated to 1687, and a fairly typical range of 18thC and 19thC wall memorials. The churchyard has been extended but the original sub-oval perimeter of the earlier 'llan' can still be determined, despite modifications in the last century and a half. The memorials within the churchyard range back to the late 17thC, and there is a sundial of 1749.

Because of the external render nothing can be said of the sequence of construction. There are, however, foundation courses at the east end of the north side, and the east wall of the north chancel which could be instructive. Windows are mainly replaced, though Hubbard felt they might be faithful reproductions; the exceptions are two Perpendicular windows on the south in different styles. Without doubt, however, the church in its present form, is of the Perpendicular period.

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

History

The dedication and churchyard morphology point to an early medieval origin for the church, but there is no confirmatory documentary evidence. Tradition has it that it was founded by Teyrnog, a 6thC saint.

The Norwich Taxation of 1254 is the first reference to the church, as 'Landernant', when it was worth 20s. In Pope Nicholas' taxation nearly forty years later it was recorded as ' Ecclia de Llant'nank' and rated at 5. The first record of a rector was not until 1535.

Glynne visited Llandyrnog in 1847, remarking on the Perpendicular windows especially that at the east end of the chancel, together with the stained glass therein. The font was small and bad, there was a west gallery and modern ceilings. The arcade comprised four clumsy pointed arches with octagonal piers and the western bay was lower and smaller than the others

A description of 1872 indicates that the building was rough cast on the outside and had pews internally - and a ground plan of the pewholders survives from c.1850 and shows pews in the south nave right up to the east wall - the roof (or roofs) were ceiled, and even then the west door was no longer in use. The west gallery had been removed some years previously and a raised platform erected in the south aisle for the singers.

Lloyd Williams and Underwood's plan (1872) shows both a porch and another cell adjoining the north side of the church at the north-west and north-east corners respectively, and a vestry at the south-west corner. The vestry on the south side which itself had been formed from the old south porch, was replaced by a new porch at the time of the 1876 restoration and the porch demolished, with the north doorway being filled in.

In 1876-8 the church was restored by W.E.Nesfield at a cost of nearly 3000. 'Pink pebbledash and sandstone dressings give a Late Victorian impression, and to Nesfield is owed the Gothic double bellcote (replacing a simpler one), the west window of the south nave, and the timber-framed porch which displays his favourite decorative roundels ('pies') in a couple of brackets, and similar circular sunflower patterns in the plaster panels' (Hubbard). Portions of the walls were taken down and rebuilt as was the arcade. It was re-roofed and a new west window inserted. Wall paintings of texts were destroyed during restoration though one was preserved by the clerk of works, but has since lost.

Part of the churchyard was removed in 1931 to widen the main road to the west, and the churchyard wall was rebuilt. It appears that at least 3m of churchyard was lost with at least 17 graves.

Architecture

Llandyrnog church comprises a double nave and chancel, the southern nave now functioning as an aisle. There is a bellcote at the west end of the north nave, and a porch near the south-west corner of the south nave.

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

Fabrics: all external walls have been rendered and pebbledashed and consequently no record can be made for the masonry.

Roof: slate roofs with grey clay ridge tiles; cross finials at east end of north nave and on porch. Chimney projects from south chancel roof above subterranean boiler house below and to one side of most easterly window.

Drainage: trench filed with chippings along north, east, and south side as far west as porch; rest of south side has flower bed, and there is tarmac at base of west wall.

Exterior

North Nave and Chancel. General. No external differentiation between nave and chancel.

North wall: three windows, wholly Victorian and all of the same design, though that to the chancel is smaller: three lights with cusped ogee heads, a square head to the window itself, and a label with simple stops; the dressings and labels all in pinkish freestone, though the jambs do have some red sandstone, but there is no sign that any of this is earlier. Single buttress, close to the nave/chancel divide, also in pink sandstone. Beneath the chancel and extending beneath the buttress (though apparently not much further) is a foundation course projecting 0.1m, the chippings in the drainage trench just below it.

East wall: wall dominated by a large five-light window with a two-centred arch and a hoodmould with head-stops; the lights have cinquefoil heads, beneath a transom with panels above; hollow chamfers to jambs and arch; all in creamy buff sandstone and all Victorian. At the base of wall is a plinth of red sandstone, again just above ground level; the sandstone is worn and must be original.

West wall: two-centred arched doorway in pink and red sandstone with quarter-round chamfers. Above this a square-headed two-light window, the lights with two-centred heads and cinquefoil cusping; pink and buff dressings; no label. Finally, a double bellcote in pink sandstone, with quarter-round dressings; above the apertures is a niche with a cusped head, but empty; bellcote surmounted by weathervane.

South Nave and Chancel. General. Victorian coping stones and kneelers to both east gables.

East wall: window with two-centred arch, simple hoodmould, three lights with two-centred heads and cinquefoil cusping, the mullions carrying through to the top of the window, sub-dividing the panels above the lights; all in pink sandstone.

South wall: towards the west end the wall has a pronounced outwards lean. From the east are: i) square-headed, three-light window, the lights almost round-headed with trefoil cusping; label; the jambs in red and pink sandstone. A window similar to but not the same as those of the north side; ii) a broad four-centred arched window of three lights; these are two-centred with trefoil cusping; the pink and cream coloured dressings used for the window heads could be original, but the mullions probably replaced.?16thC; iii) another four-centred arched window, broad in relation to its height; three plain lights, the central one two-centred, the others four-centred; pink and buff freestone. Probably later than window to east; iv) porch..

West wall: five light window with cinquefoil tracery in round heads, the mullions continuing to top, and panels include two quatrefoils; two-centred head to window with simple hoodmould; standard pink sandstone.

Porch. General. Of Victorian build replacing a vestry which in turn had been formed from an earlier south porch. Plastered foundation walls with pink sandstone dressings, and timber superstructure with decorated panels on three sides. Wooden square-headed windows of three lights with cusped heads. On south side, a large timber-framed doorway with a four-centred arch, carved jambs and a hefty wooden door.

Interior

Porch. General. Tiled floor; plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof has two re-used trusses ( one perhaps from the old north porch), the inner an arch-braced collar with cusped rafters and collar, the outer a tie beam with raking struts, again all cusped; purlins look original, and pronounced wooden pegs.

North wall: two-centred arched doorway in pink sandstone; chamfers with fancy stops; simple hoodmould. Wall sports an Incorporated Society for Building and Churches' plaque of 1876.

East wall: wooden bench with window above.

West wall: as east wall.

North Nave. General. Floor has slabs, some re-used for date of 1634 visible in one place; however carpet over most of floor; heating grilles; benches on flush wooden boarding. Walls plastered and whitewashed, and displaying a marked outwards lean. Roof of six bays with simple, chamfered, arch-braced collar trusses springing from ribbed wall plates; trusses of uniform appearance; two tiers of cusped wind braces.

North wall: two splayed windows with only the dressings unpainted; two 18thC and one 19thC marble wall memorials; two 19thC brasses; five 20thC memorials.

East wall: two steps up to chancel.

South wall: three bays of five-bay arcade, octagonal columns, complex moulded capitals, all in pink sandstone revealing a complete rebuild.

West wall: slightly splayed doorway embrasure with two-centred arch. Two memorials of 1722 and 1782/86.

North Chancel. General. Two steps up to chancel from nave, one to sanctuary and one to altar. Carpetted floor in chancel and encaustic tiles in sanctuary; choir stalls on flush wooden boarding. Walls as nave. Roof of four bays but closer-set trusses than in nave, with three rather than six rafters between.

North wall: splayed window; three 19thC memorials; head of priest's effigy on floor beneath window.

East wall: splayed window with medieval stained glass.

South wall: two bays of arcade as north nave.

South Nave. General. Slab floor, but carpet covered in aisle so impossible to determine how many are re-used graveslabs. Heating grilles also in evidence. Around font at west end other slabs with datable examples from 1589, 1665 and 1763. Benches on flush wooden boarding. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of eight bays including chancel (now vestry), all arch-braced collars springing from ribbed wall plates; two tiers of cusped wind-braces.

North wall: arcade (see north nave).

East wall: no differentiation but further east panelled screen separates vestry from nave.

South wall: two splayed windows, that to east has lighter coloured dressings that appear earlier than the standard in this church; a brass beneath the more westerly window records the erection of the window to three sons who died in 1847, 1849 and 1879, though it is not clear whether this is the whole window or just the glass. Elsewhere on the wall a hatchment and four 19thC memorials.

West wall: splayed window with brass of 1877 below, and one marble memorial.

South Chancel. General. Eastern half occupied by vestry approached by two steps; wooden board floor. Walls and roof as described under south nave.

North wall: organ + two bays of arcade

East wall: splayed window. Photographs and painting.

South wall: sink has replaced chimney and boiler.

Churchyard

Llandyrnog churchyard has a curious polygonal shape which is largely a modern development. The slightly less regular line of an earlier perimeter can be discerned on the north and north-east (see below), while the curving west and north-west sides were shaved back prior to 1931 to facilitate traffic movement on the road. There is also a rectangular extension on the east side. The churchyard is reasonably level though there may be a slight drop from east to west. It is still used for burial and is reasonably well maintained.

Boundary: south-west of the church, the churchyard is edged by a retaining wall rising to about 1.7m; on the south-eat is a rough masonry wall; on the north-east the extension is edged by a low stone retaining wall; and on the north-west is a stone wall with a drop to the road beyond.

Monuments: reasonably uniform distribution in the yard, though never dense. Many slate slabs flaking. There is a good range of monuments going back to the 17thC and even on the north side of the church there are tombs of the early 18thC, e.g. 1708. South of the church is a table tomb of 1670, and to the west a chest tomb of 1682.

Furniture: short distance to the south-west of the building is a sundial inscribed "Ratcliff: Holywell Lat: 53 1749". It is placed on a small rectangular-sectioned pillar with chamfered edges, which is weathering badly.

Earthworks: on the north-east is a low scarp bank up to 0.4m with a yew and a pine on it; this swings round and continues on the north as a more pronounced scarp a few metres inside the present perimeter. Together with the surviving, if modified, south-east and south-west sides they define a smaller raised churchyard with a tendency to curvilinearity.

Ancillary features: lychgate at north-west corner with limestone rubble walls and a timber roof; no date. At south-west is a simple iron gate approached by a flight of eight steps from the road. Another small gate on the north-east side gives access to a new graveyard on the opposite side of a track. Tarmac paths to porch and between to the gates on the west, slabs and flags in front of the porch.

Vegetation: yews, none of any great age, around edge of original churchyard, together with occasional pine. One yew in northern strip between scarp bank and perimeter wall.

Sources consulted

CPAT AP 95-006-0032; 95-C-0157/0159
CPAT Field Visit: 26 November 1996
Faculty: St Asaph 1876 (NLW)
Faculty: St Asaph 1931 (NLW)
Glynne 1884, 172
Gresham 1968, 165
Hubbard 1986, 195
Lloyd Williams and Underhill 1872, pl 21
NMR Aberystwyth
Neaverson 1953-54, 9
Plan c.1850: DRO/PD/47/1/38
Quinquennial 1995
Ridgway 1997, 126
Thomas 1911, 35


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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 Llandyrnog 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 ( 22:01:34 ).
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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