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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Dyfnog , Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch

Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ0816763375.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16884 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch Church, CPAT copyright photo CS971213.JPG

Summary

St Dyfnog's church is set on the south side of the small village of Llanrhaiadr, about 5km south-east of Denbigh. Like many churches in the Vale of Clwyd it has a double nave and in addition has a west tower. Overall the structural history is far from clear. Its fenestration is particularly varied, though mainly Perpendicular, and the north nave contains the remarkable Jesse window dating from 1533. Late medieval roofs survive inside, together with an interesting range of monuments, a great oak chest and an 18thC carved pelican. The churchyard may originally have had a more curvilinear appearance than today and its earliest gravestone dates from 1639.

Almost all the architectural detail is Perpendicular or later.

North nave: eastern section of north wall perhaps rebuilt in 19thC, as evidenced by a change in the wall's alignment and by the masonry. Victorian windows, if copies, would point to originals in the Decorated style.

East wall on the basis of the blocked and partially removed doorway is 13thC or 14thC.

South nave - could be all of one build though possibly some reconstruction at west end. South wall in particular has a surprising mixture of windows, and internally the flat-headed window at east end of south side shows signs of insertion. Furthermore the chancel has been re-designed and is now shorter than its predecessor on the basis of the surviving length of its wagon roof; this however is presumably a post-medieval development.

Tower appears to have had its west wall rebuilt but this change is visible internally not externally. Other rebuilding may include the parapet.

Porch appears to be reconstructed, though possibly a faithful copy of the original; the original roof timbers were retained.

Probable that north nave is the earlier and that, most unusually, it had a doorway in the east wall. South aisle added in 15thC or possibly the early 16thC. The tower is presumably late medieval too.

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

History

The dedication and perhaps the location point to an early medieval origin; locally it is reputed to be a 6thC foundation, and there is a holy well, Ffynnon Dyfnog, a short distance to the west.

The church is referred to as 'Ecc'a de Lanrayadyr' in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 at a value of 3 6s 8d, but is not named specifically in the later Taxatio of Pope Nicholas (1291).

Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church in 1847, noting that the building was whitewashed, the western gallery contained a finger organ, the arcade had obtuse, ugly arches, and the porch curious niches and panelling.

The church was restored by Arthur Baker in 1879-80 at a time when the roof had decayed, the floors were uneven and the arcade and several windows in poor condition. These problems were resolved by Baker: the fabric was completely repaired, the pews replaced with open seats, some other fittings such as pulpit were repaired and the churchyard wall renovated. Baker also moved the Maurice Jones memorial from the north wall of the north aisle to its present position near the south-west corner of the church, and he probably got rid of the west gallery which had utilised parts of the medieval rood loft. The Y-traceried windows in the north wall date either from this time or from very shortly after. The cost of the 1879-80 restoration was 2774.

Further restoration occurred in 1986-89, when walls were unpinned, some rebuilding occurred and new floors laid with wood on concrete. In 1988 several graves were recorded during trenching operations, either running beneath or cut by the west wall of the north nave.

Architecture

The church is a double-naved structure with a west tower appended to the south nave, and a north porch almost centrally placed against the main wall of the north nave.

It is oriented west-south-west/east-north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is used; the churchyard is described in conventional terms.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises a mixture of blocks and some slabs of red and grey sandstone, limestone, perhaps with some shale; irregular coursing. 'B' has more red sandstone than 'A' as well as grey shale, but smaller and more varied lumps of stone. 'C' has a predominance of limestone roughly coursed with limestone quoins; a small amount of red sandstone. 'D' is similar to 'A' but the sandstone is frequently pink in hue rather than red.

Roof: slated roofs, with plain ridge tiles which may be stone or concrete; certainly the latter on the porch. Stone cross finials on north nave and also at east end of south nave (the chancel). Flag pole on tower roof.

Drainage: gravel-filled trench along north side (though not the porch), the south and the east. Tarmac on west side though a brick-lined gully around the sides of the tower. West of the porch, metal plates against wall presumably cover subterranean boiler room.

Exterior

Tower. General. Base of tower battered to a height of c.1m on north and rather more on south and west; on the west too are large projecting stones at the base of the batter, but on the south it has been concreted over. Only a string course above the belfry windows and then the battlemented parapet. Walls in 'C', though more sandstone in parapet than elsewhere, and the string course too is in red sandstone. Few diagnostic features to date the tower, but a belief that it is 13thC and the oldest part of the church cannot be substantiated.

North wall: rectangular window at ground floor level with chamfered yellow freestone dressings (19thC or 20thC). Belfry illuminated by two two-centred cusped windows in olive yellow freestone; sill and some jambstones are in pink sandstone and appear to be replaced, the rest less certainly so; stones on edge above the window create crude relieving arch; clock face over the window. No sign of an external joint in the masonry to match the internal joint that seems to indicate a rebuilt west wall.

East wall: visible above the south nave roof. A single belfry window with a two-centred, cusped head, and with slightly hollowed chamfer to the dressings.

South wall: belfry window as on north side but weathering may give false impression that some dressings have been renewed; relieving arch as on north.

West wall: doorway with two-centred arch and ribbed chamfer, possibly the only pre-Perpendicular feature; hoodmould does not look original but has weathered head stops; edge stones form relieving arch. Above the doorway is a small rectangular window, weathered but of no great age. Standard belfry window with relieving arch but sill, jambs and mullions renewed. Three tie rods high up on north side of this wall.

North Nave and Chancel. General. No differentiation externally.

North wall: wall has chamfered block plinth at base and is largely in 'A'; but the top 0.4m or so of the wall is in 'B' and this drops to 0.7m around first window. Features from west end are: i) wall angle has limestone quoins at lowest levels but red sandstone above, the latter probably not original; projecting basal stones at corner. ii) four-centred window, mainly in red sandstone, with three two-centred lights and filled spandrels, the heads in pink sandstone conceivably original, but most jambs, the mullion stones, and the sill have all been renewed. iii) second window has a two-centred arch, two narrow, cusped lights with Y-tracery and an irregular cusped panel above, and a hoodmould with curled stops; Decorated style but wholly Victorian and no obvious evidence that it had a predecessor. iv) porch. v) a pair of windows which mirror the cusped lights of iii). vi) a single cusped light as those to the west. Wall exhibits some changes east of porch: the chamfered plinth has dressed sandstone, probably of Victorian origin, there are blocks of olive-yellow sandstone around the windows which are clearly 19thC if not later, and east of the last window is a large patch of sandstone masonry out of place in this wall - it coincides with a very slight change in the alignment of the wall. Difficult to see the joints but conceivably much of the wall face has been rebuilt at this end.

East wall: appears to be in 'A' but newly pointed; plinth at height of c.0.8m is Victorian addition. Dominated by a large four-centred window with five ogee-headed lights that have cinquefoil tracery and, above, sub-arches, panels and quatrefoils; in pink and buff sandstone with the mullions and perhaps the tracery replaced, though the jambs appear original. Above is a hollow-chamfered hoodmould with head stops. All including the hoodmould itself could be Victorian or later. On south side of the window is a blocked doorway, the hollow-chamfered jambstones but not the arch visible (cf interior).

West wall: in 'A', incorporating some very large blocks, but the gable is in 'B' and a tie rod and S-plate near apex; the wall is original, and a flat-topped plinth survives at a height of c.0.5m. The window is Victorian with a four-centred arch and three lancet lights and a hoodmould with head stops. It is off centre and infilling masonry can be seen around it.

South Nave and Chancel. General. Alignment of this nave as seen in its face is slightly different from its northern counterpart. Chamfered plinth of Victorian date is continued from north nave. Fabric 'D'.

East wall: plinth to c.1.2m and runs around diagonal buttress at south-east angle. Window similar to that in north nave: a two-centred arch, five lights with sub-arches, panels etc, and a hoodmould with head stops, both weathered, one more so than the other, but both probably Victorian. But the lights have round heads and there is also a transom at springing level. Mullions, tracery and hoodmould in Victorian freestone. Even the sill renewed and only the north jamb and part of the south in original red sandstone.

South wall: features from east are: i) south-east corner and small part of this wall above the buttress rebuilt with a preponderance of limestone blocks. ii) rectangular window with two-centred arched lights, cinquefoil tracery and big hollowed jambs; the label has weathered stops in the form of human heads with arms beneath. All in light pinkish-brown sandstone that appears original. iii) single, small, cusped light high up in wall to illuminate the roodloft; slight external splay, no chamfer; olive freestone mainly original. iv) broad window with four-centred arch; four cusped lights with two-centred heads; deep hollowed chamfer on jambs; tracery in mustard yellow freestone, the jambs in pink sandstone; not clear how much renewed, possibly both the tracery and the mullions. v) angle buttress. vi) window with four-centred arch, three stepped lights with simple round heads, jambs in worn red sandstone, but splayed rather than chamfered; window heads renewed in olive freestone; signs of infilling in Fabric 'B' above window. vii) plinth stops at south-west angle where it meets the battered base of the west wall which is carried round the angle.

West wall:battered base to c.0.8m One rectangular window with chamfered dressings, a modern insertion. Conceivable that upper part of this wall entirely rebuilt. North of the tower the batter is just visible and there is a similar window. Relationship with north nave is no clearer at this end than at the east end, though there are hints in the masonry that north nave is earlier.

Porch. General. Timber-framed superstructure set on a low, chamfered stone plinth of Victorian sandstone though this is visible only on the east side.

East wall: above the stone foundation wall is wooden panelling containing eight open lights with tracery of five different designs; none of this is broken and it appears to be in too good a condition to be original.

South wall: arched opening to porch, the highest point on the soffit has a flower as decoration. Above this is the ornamented tie beam with a blank face, the mouth of which has lobed 'tongues' extending. Crenellated top to beam, and above it in the gable a niche with canopy work that has been renewed. Barge boards have similar patterns to side lights and are equally unconvincing as original work.

West wall: as east wall and again with five tracery patterns.

Interior

Porch. General. Tiled floor, wooden walls; two-bay roof, the innermost truss has an arch-braced tie-beam with crenellated top, and cusped rafters and raking struts, the centre truss has an arch-braced moulded collar and the outer one an arch-braced tie-beam (see external description).

East wall: crenellated wallplate above the open panels; wooden bench against wall.

South wall: two-centred doorway of two orders with stopped chamfers, mainly in red sandstone, but grey sandstone in east jamb; sharpening marks on jambs.

West wall: as east wall.

North Nave. General. Floor of polished wooden blocks, except at front (east end) where a series of 18thC graveslabs underlie position of what would have been the altar. Walls of bare stone, radiators and pipes around them. Roof of nine bays, the five to the east wider than the four to the west, and the most westerly of the latter narrower than its three counterparts. The four western bays have arch-braced trusses with cusped raking struts above the collars and plain terminals resting on plain wallplates; also two tiers of cusped windbraces and broad flat purlins. The easterly bays have hammerbeam arch-braced trusses alternating with ordinary arch-braced trusses, but both with cusped raking struts. Some of the hammerbeams retain angels at their terminals. Above the wall plates are cusped and traceried panels. Carved bosses at intersections of moulded purlins and ribs. Hubbard suggests that western section is a later replacement. Rear of nave curtained off for vestry.

North wall: from west end: i) in corner at floor level is a rectangle of masonry left exposed when the rest of the floor has been covered in wood blocks; its purpose is unclear. ii) a slight disconformity in the masonry close to the corner suggests a change but this is not born out by the exterior and in fact may be exaggerated by a formers crack now filled with pink mortar. iii) Next a three-light splayed window some, but not all of the splay stones in relatively recent pink sandstone; another possible change in the masonry below this window seems unlikely; beneath it, too, two 19thC brasses. iv) a splayed window, again the internal dressings for the splay in recent pink sandstone; indications of infilling after insertion around top of arch; between it and the door another 19thC brass. v) doorway with a two-centred arch, chamfered head, but not jambs; some stones at least original. vi) two wall memorials of the 1720s and 1812 and, below, a brass of 1766. vii) double, splayed window clearly inserted and with recent pink sandstone dressings. viii) three 19thC marble memorials, one above the other. ix) single splayed window with standard dressings; few if any signs of insertion. x) arched recess to same broad design as windows but having a decorative 'relieving arch' of shale edge stones; outer dressings are modern but deeper into alcove the arch has older blocks of sandstone shaping it. xi) wall memorial recording restoration of adjacent Jesse Window.

East wall: dominated by Jesse Window. On its south side this has partially removed the arch and northern jamb of an almost round-headed doorway, now blocked; jambs largely of sandstone, its arch turned in edge stones that include a few slabs of shale. Above this door two marble memorial tablets, and higher up on the wall is a possible masonry change.

South wall: consists of a four-bay arcade with broad two-centred arches of two orders in pink sandstone springing from the octagonal capitals of similarly shaped columns. At east end the respond is however rectangular and only the top part of it and its rectangular capital are in dressed sandstone. Lower down it is formed of ordinary masonry. Above the respond is a clear change in the masonry with the wall above the first arch slightly inset and the masonry containing somewhat smaller material. Attached to the respond is the carving of the pelican (see below). Over the first column is a marble tablet of 1756. At west end the respond is faced entirely in dressed pink sandstone and just below the roof level there appears to be a disconformity in the masonry forming an almost horizontal course.

West wall: splayed window, some of the dressed stone perhaps replaced.

South Nave. General. Floor of polished wooden blocks the benches on similar blocks flush with the rest of the floor. Walls bare, and heating as in north aisle. Roof of six bays over nave and part of chancel. Arch-braced trusses with cusping above collars rest on alternate hammerbeam trusses with angel terminals and on small wooden corbel heads that are set out from the wall plates; those above the arcade appear to be carved out of the bases of the arch bracing. Above the arcade two of the angels and some of the heads have gone. Traceried panels above the wallplates. Rear of the nave is taken up by the organ together with a passage beneath it leading into the tower.

North wall:arcade. At extreme west end again possibly some evidence of rebuilding just below roof level.

East wall: distinguished only by one step up into choir.

South wall: a group of six marble wall memorials from the very end of the 18thC through the 19thC, together with one 20thC brass. To west is a splayed window with pink sandstone dressings of some age, and finally the imposing monument to Maurice Jones who died in 1702.

West wall: mostly disguised by organ which was erected in memory of a Leicestershire gentleman who died in 1894. Under the altar is the entrance to the tower which is a crudely turned two-centred arch formed of edge stones, the jambs tapering slightly towards the floor and formed of ordinary masonry. Two small rectangular lights about half way up the wall on either side of the organ are relatively recent and may have concrete lintels; that on the north appears to have a small balcony beneath it, and both perhaps designed to light a west gallery.

South Chancel. General. Floor as nave but one step higher and a further step to sanctuary. Walls as nave and the nave roof is continuous over the more westerly half of chancel roof. Over sanctuary there are two bays with a fine, heavily decorated wagon roof, the three main trusses springing from corbels supporting angels, and highly decorated purlins, moulded ribs and traceried panels.

North wall: arcade.

East wall: splayed window with clear glass except for edges; has an internal hollow chamfer.

South wall: from east a flat-headed window, splayed with evidence of insertion above it. Next a wall memorial of 1724 and one of the late 19thC, and above the latter a small window with a rectangular splay which presumably lit the rood; one of the hammerbeam trusses obscures part of the window. Finally another splayed window but no signs of insertion.

Tower. General. One step up from nave leads into a narrow chamber no wider than the doorway that leads into it. Flag floor contains at least one graveslab. Bare walls. Arched ceiling in stone with round hole giving view up tower towards bells. North wall: splayed window with concrete lintel and sill. About 0.8m from west end there is a change in the masonry with a distinct butt joint.

South wall: no window but a butt joint as on the north side.

West wall: two-centred arched doorway the arch turned in flat slabs rather than on edge.

Churchyard

The present, well maintained, churchyard is rectilinear and the shape alone points to it having been extended westwards, this reinforced by the alignment changes visible on the ground, though there is no surface evidence of a relict boundary. A new graveyard was consecrated on the opposite side of the road in 1866, but in addition on the extreme east a slightly curving boundary was pushed back to the road edge in 1880. A new graveyard has now been established on the opposite side of the road running through the village. Within the churchyard the ground slopes slightly from west to east. A small stream edges the churchyard on the south.

Boundary: stone wall rises above churchyard on all sides except south where instead there is a retaining wall forming the edge of the stream.

Monuments: monuments are scattered throughout the churchyard but are not at all dense. On the north side are chest tombs and a few gravestones, but most here and on the west side are 19thC. There is however some evidence, particularly on the east, that ledgers are grassed over. Here too are the earliest stones: a small gravestone of 1639, and a graveslab of 1642 with heraldry, set on later supporters.

Furniture: modern cross shaft on stepped foundation, in north-east corner.

Mention should be made of the almshouses dating from 1729, lying outside the western boundary of the churchyard.

Earthworks: some evidence that churchyard raised on east and north, around 0.5m though more pronounced towards north-east corner. External ground level noticeably higher on west side.

Ancillary features: lychgate with timber superstructure on limestone foundation walls on north side; ornate with arch-braced tie beams, cusped struts, and decorated barge boards similar to those on porch. Further gates and entrances in middle of east side, and north-west and south-west corners and in centre of west sides. Tarmac paths.

Vegetation: four mature but not ancient yews on west side; two large conifers in north-east corner.

Sources consulted

Archaeology in Wales 1988, 70
Bye-gones, June 1881
CPAT Field Visit: 20 February 1997
Davies 1972: church guide
Faculty 1866 St Asaph (NLW) - addition to churchyard
Faculty 1878 St Asaph (NLW) - restoration of church
Faculty 1880 St Asaph (NLW) - addition to churchyard
Glynne 1884, 176
Hubbard 1986, 230
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872, pls 2 & 3
NMR Aberystwyth
Neaverson 1953-54, 9
Quinquennial Review 1993
Thomas 1911, 44
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 Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch 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 ( 22:01:49 ).
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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