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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St James , Nantglyn

Nantglyn Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Nantglyn in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ0041562133.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16917 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Summary

St James' church at Nantglyn is a simple structure lying in the centre of a remote village, some 4 miles to the south-west of Denbigh. Heavily restored in 1862, the only survivals are the roof timbers, a few earlier 19thC memorials, and perhaps the walls.

Church drastically restored in 19thC though roof timbers from the medieval building were retained, and it seems probable that north wall and perhaps west and south, which are both now slate-hung, are original. However, the absence of any diagnostic features means that it is impossible to say whether this is medieval or of later 18thC date (see below). East end extended, probably in the 19thC.

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

History

The location and churchyard morphology might suggest an early medieval origin. There are, however, fairly well-established but confused references to an early chapel dedicated to St Mordeyrn on the farm known as Clasmor a little more than 250m to the east, and Thomas believed this was the predecessor of the present church.

The Norwich Taxatio of 1254 refers to 'Ecc'a de Gvythrein et Nantclym' at a value of 2 13s 4d, while in the Lincoln Taxatio of 1291 the value of 'Eccl'ia de Nanclyn' was 4.

The report by the Rural Dean in 1729 indicated the church was in very poor condition, and in 1777 it was partially rebuilt, though the extent of the work is not known.

Alterations were made to the gallery in 1849-50.

The church was drastically restored by Lloyd Williams & Underwood in 1862. Vestry and bellcote added. Further renovation occurred in 1869.

Glynne noted an 'obtuse-arched' west doorway in 1870, though this is no longer visible, and remarked on the fact that the church had been completely renovated leaving nothing original. In 1875 the west gallery was pulled down, a west window inserted, and the west and south walls hung with slates. In 1879 the bellcote was rebuilt.

Architecture

Nantglyn church consists of a single chamber for the nave and chancel, a south porch, and a vestry attached to the north-west corner of the nave.

It is aligned fractionally north of due east.

Fabrics:'A' consists of slabs of grey shaley slate, blocks of shale, and some pebble stones; colours range from grey through to brown; random coursing; rough finish with stone projecting; frequent limewash and render residue visible. 'B' primarily of slabs of grey shaley slate up to 1m+ long; regularly laid; occasional traces of limewash.

Roof: slates, ornamental grey clay ridge tiles; metal finial at east end. A bellcote with single aperture at west end, of stepped design, in limestone and with stone cross on top.

Drainage: traces of a hollow on the north side could indicate drainage, and a gravel strip perhaps disguising drain along part of south.

Exterior

Nave. North wall: in 'A' for most of length with four cusped lancets of 19thC origin, all in grey limestone; occasional indications that these were inserted, and at the west end adjacent to the vestry is a blocked window, its large slate sill immured, and some regular stones for jambs; its blocking also has less limewash residue. East of the fourth window and virtually in line with the sanctuary inside the masonry is largely covered by a concrete pointing cum render, but not enough to disguise that this part of wall is in 'B'.

East wall: plinth to height of 0.3m. This and the wall face is in 'B'. Window of three stepped cusped lights as on north side but larger; evidence of packing around window, but may be a function of the otherwise large masonry blocks.

South wall: faced in vertical slates except for bottom 0.3m. Three windows to east of porch, one to west, all as on north side.

West wall: also slate hung. A big roundel window containing four quatrefoils in concrete.

Vestry. General. Built in long slabs of grey slate. Two-light rectangular window in grey limestone on east side.

Porch. General. In 'B' with plinth at height of c.0.4m; dressed limestone for quoins, archway etc. East and west walls have small cusped lights. Entrance on south has two-centred archway, chamfered dressings with broach stops, and a hoodmould with head-stops; wholly Victorian.

Interior

Porch. General. Floor tiled in black and red; walls plastered and painted; simple roof of purlins and rafters.

North wall: doorway matches outer porch entrance with two-centred arch in grey limestone.

East and west walls: small windows and wooden benches.

Nave. General. One step up from porch. Tiled floor with carpets down aisle; heating grille just inside south door but no others visible; benches raised on wooden boarding, and font on a flagstone plinth. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of six bays including chancel; principal trusses have arch-braced collars with plain raking struts; trusses rise from wall plates, but for the last bay at west end the plates are plastered over; much of the timberwork appears to be original.

North wall: four splayed windows of identical appearance, the dressings painted over. Near vestry door is a corbel at height of just over 2m, a relic of the former west gallery. Ghosts of the stairs can also be seen on the wall a little to the east. In north-west corner dog tongs are mounted on the wall, and further to the east between the windows are three marble memorials of the 19thC and 20thC.

East wall: sanctuary step only.

South wall: splayed windows as north wall but with stained glass; a memorial brass beneath one of them gives date of 1872. Doorway embrasure with two-centred head. Corbel matches that on north wall.

West wall: rectangular window, splayed with segmental head to embrasure. Three brasses of 19thC and 20thC, and a safe set into wall.

Chancel. General. Sanctuary only. One step up from nave. Floor has carpet over encaustic tiles; walls and roof as nave, but most easterly bay is only three-quarter size.

North wall: plain.

East wall: splayed windows with stained glass; reredos has encaustic tiles.

South wall: plain.

Vestry. General. One step down from nave; carpeted floor; plastered and painted walls; flat ceiling. Benefaction board on west and leaning against it an inscribed stone, supposedly of Roman date.

Churchyard

Churchyard is small and polygonal and has been enlarged at least twice, initially on the south in 1862 and later on the west. The original shape determined from the faculty plan of 1862 was roughly rectangular with rounded corners. The north and south sides of the yard are the highest with a saddle in the middle; the church is on the north side, which is probably a natural spur projecting towards the stream.

It is a well-maintained yard and modern burials are set in the new strip taken in on the west.

Boundary: mortared stone wall on west and south, retaining wall on the north, and houses or a drystone wall and fence on the east.

Monuments: graves spread evenly and occasionally densely. A predominance of ledgers and chest tombs, many of the former covered with vegetation, and some of the latter in a bad state of repair. Probably a number of later 18thC ledgers, though the only ones which were intelligible were of 1776, 1790 and 1797. There is however an exception: a ledger of 1650 south of the chancel.

Furniture: none seen.

Earthworks: yard is raised on north and east but this is largely a result of the natural spur location.

Ancillary features: entrance on east via simple pair of iron gates and gravel path

Vegetation: two ancient yews south of church, one smaller one to east and conifers and pines around the edge of the yard.

Sources consulted

Church guide (by E.P.Williams): no date.
CPAT Field Visit: 17 January 1997
Faculty 1862: DRO/PD/84/1/13
Glynne 1884, 103
Hubbard 1986, 256
Thomas 1911, 58
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 Nantglyn 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 ( 22:01:37 ).
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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