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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of Corpus Christi , Tremeirchion

Tremeirchion Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Tremeirchion in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ0827973084. At one time it was dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16966 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Tremeirchion Church, CPAT copyright photo CS981922.JPG

Summary

The church of Corpus Christi is situated in the small village of Tremeirchion, about three miles to the east of St Asaph. The church is first recorded in the 1291 Taxation, and the building itself is a single chambered structure which has been claimed as 14thC. However there has been some reconstruction, perhaps in 1726 and a north transept was added in the 19thC. Inside is a late medieval arch-braced roof, two medieval effigies, several fragments of sepulchral stones which may date to the 14thC, and a Perpendicular font; the south windows contain fragments of 15C and 17thC glass. The churchyard, until its enlargement in the early 20thC was small and broadly polygonal.

Single chambered church, the stonework of which has been attributed to the 14thC on the evidence of the south and west doors; one surviving medieval window to the west of the porch may be Perpendicular, though its arch looks 18thC. Much of the south wall was probably rebuilt in 1726, and it is conceivable that some of the west wall was also rebuilt at this time. Restorations at various times in the 19thC, and again in 1913. Some windows were replaced by grouped lancets, probably in 1858/1859. The date of the porch is uncertain but it could be as early as the 17thC.

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

History

This is reputedly the only medieval church in Britain dedicated to Corpus Christi. Browne Willis suggested its original dedication was to the Holy Trinity with a possible rededication in the 16thC.

It has been proposed as the site of a cell founded in the 6thC by one of the followers of St Beuno. St Beuno's well is located c.500m from the site, but there is little substantive to indicate an early medieval foundation.

The manor of Tremeirchion was recorded in Domesday Book in 1086. The church was not mentioned in the Norwich Taxation of 1254, but appears first in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 as the chapel of 'Dynmeychyawn', appropriated to the cathedral at St Asaph.

Little is known of the medieval church other than what can be gleaned from the surviving architecture.

In 1774 Dr Johnson visited the church and wrote that 'the church at Dymeirchion is in a dismal condition, the seats all tumbling about, the Altar rail falling, the vessels for the consecrated elements only pewter, the cloth upon the table in a thousand holes, and the floor strewn with rushes'. There were also painted Welsh texts on the walls.

Dormer windows which still survive lit a gallery at the west end. In 1809 an organ was placed in this minstrels/singers gallery which was fronted by Benefaction boards.

In 1858/59 the two-light east window which contained 14thC stained glass was replaced with the present one. The remains of the early window were positioned in the vestry. The north transept was built in 1864 to increase the accommodation for the congregation.

Glynne visited the church soon after the transept was added. His description of the fenestration included a possible Decorated window north of the altar. 'The interior had rather a modern appearance, and the roof [had] a modern ceiling of bad appearance, the original roof being removed. There [were] texts in illuminated characters on zinc on the walls'. He mentioned the two effigies in the church, and also several of the sepulchral slabs now in the church but then in the churchyard.

Reseating and restoration work in 1874 included taking down the west gallery, removing the organ and placing it in the north transept. The west end door was walled up on the inside and made secure, and general repairs and improvements were made.

Further restoration work took place in 1913, when the church was closed and services were held in the schoolroom. The 1913 alterations included the removal of a chimney, which rose above the angle between the north wall of the nave and the west wall of the transept, and the interior stove that it was connected to, the removal of the font from mid-way along the south wall to inside the south door, some alterations to the seating arrangements and the construction of a boiler house adjoining the east wall of the north transept. Plans were to the design of Harold Hughes, the Diocesan Architect.

The early font, now in use again, had been replaced in 1879 by a new marble one. The position of this new font can be traced by the marks worn into the flagged floor near the south door. The octagonal pedestal base of the 19thC font now lies in the churchyard near the north-west corner and the font itself was passed on to a church in Cirencester in 1970.

Architecture

The church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a north transept, a south porch, and over the west end of the nave a bellcote. The church is oriented south-west/north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for the church, though not for the churchyard.

Fabrics: 'A' is of heavily mortared, small to medium blocks of medium grained limestone and grey and buff coloured pebblestones. Quoins in dressed limestone and sandstone at all corners. Remnants of limewash. 'B' comprises small to large blocks of limestone with some grey and beige slabs of fine-grained sandstone; limestone quoins at the north-east and north-west corners. 'C' is primarily of grey and brown-stained sandstone with occasional blocks of limestone; random coursing; some limewash residue. 'D' is of blocks and slabs of grey and iron-stained siltstone (or similar); random coursing.

'A' is supposedly 14thC, 'C' is undated but is almost certainly post-Reformation and might be 18thC, 'D' is also undated and 'B' is from 1864.

Roofs: slates with plain stone ridge tiles. Cross finials on the bellcote (damaged), the gable end of the north transept and the east end of the chancel.

Drainage: hollowed along the south side, and a stone surface gutter along the west wall. Nothing visible elsewhere other than downpipes.

Exterior

Nave. General. All in Fabric 'A'.

North wall: two large buttresses in 'C', measuring c.2m deep and 1m+ wide and about 1.5m high, sloping up to the height of the nave roof with the slate cappings, a continuation of the nave/chancel roof; constructed entirely in medium blocks of limestone. Between them a square-headed window. This is small, has a chamfered frame in olive-green sandstone and contains three square-headed lights, the most easterly of which is blocked; its jamb on the east side is disguised by the buttress; the window is domestic in style and Hubbard thought it might be 17thC. East of the more easterly buttress are paired 19thC lancets in yellow-grey sandstone. In the roof a dormer window that formerly lit the west gallery; paired, wooden, foiled lights with a cinquefoil above.

South wall: features from the west are i) a round-headed unchamfered two-light window; the arch looks 18thC but the lights are in Perpendicular style with trefoiled, round heads of coarse appearance, and sunken spandrels above. The mullion and sill have been renewed, as have the eastern jambstones. ii) a dormer window showing a distinct tilt. An exterior staircase to the gallery together with its associated doorway have been removed from the angle between the south wall and the west wall of the porch. iii) porch. Between iii) and iv) is a disconformity in the wall. To the west the wall has a tendency to bulge at the top while to the east it is plumb or slightly battered inwards; the result is that at the top the wall is inset by perhaps 0.1m, at the base there is no visible change, but the material to the east looks to be of 'B' type though with some iron-stained limestone. Overall this suggests that the eastern section has been rebuilt. Furthermore from the porch eastwards there is a projecting plinth at the base of the wall to a height of about 0.4m; a little beyond the disconformity noted above the material of the plinth becomes rougher. iv) a 19thC set of paired lancets. v) a stone set in the wall is carved 'W. Prd R.W. Ward 1726', probably an indication of when the south wall was rebuilt. vi) a further set of paired lancets as iv). Wall continues for the chancel without any differentiation

West wall: the wall is probably in fabric 'A' though there are a few blocks of sandstone as well as pebblestones, and it is conceivable that the upper part above the doorway is reconstructed. A disconformity at the northern end of this wall suggests that the angle may have rebuilt, but as the west door is slightly off centre it is also possible that the north wall has now been repositioned through rebuilding or thickening. The west doorway has a two-centred arch and jambs in buff and yellow sandstone, some perhaps renewed; attributed to the 14thC; door itself is studded and old. The doorway is now unused, and is blocked off internally.

Bellcote above the west gable, its single aperture with a two-centred arch and slabs of beige-coloured sandstone. The date of this is uncertain bout probably pre-19thC.

North Transept. General. Constructed in 1864 in 'B'. The north wall has three stepped lancets in beige sandstone and the west and east walls have single foiled two-centred lights in similar stone.

Chancel. General. All in Fabric 'A'. Note there is no external division between the nave and chancel on the south side.

North wall: visible to the east of the north transept and contains 19thC paired lancets of slender form, clearly inserted into the wall. Two buttresses: the more westerly is the shorter of the two and in 'B'; that at the east angle is in 'C' and is comparable to those on the north side of the nave. Its east side bulges badly.

East wall: the base of the wall (to a height of 0.3m) projects slightly. The fabric looks like 'B' rather than 'A', but the east window of three stepped lancets in standard sandstone under a four-centred limestone relieving arch is inserted. The original may have been 0.4m longer for the masonry beneath the window shows a filling of sandstone blocks.

South wall: the plinth is a continuation of that on the nave, but it stops about 0.6m short of the end of the wall, for no obvious reason. Window comprises a set of paired lancets comparable with those in the nave.

Porch. General. In 'D'.

East wall: plain.

South wall: above the open front is a pegged, four-centred timber arch from 1980 forming the entrance, with a tie beam above, and then an open, stud gable; the wall posts supporting the arch are set inside the stone side walls and rest on the ends of the porch's stone benches.

West wall: plain except for a weathered, carved stone from a medieval sepulchral slab at the south angle.

Interior

South Porch. General. Below ground level with one step down from the path. A floor of slate slabs and exposed stone walls. A roof with one moulded arch-braced collar with wooden pegs, a short distance away from the nave wall; otherwise a single bay; exposed rafters and the purlins have windbraces - this appears original but it is reported that it was rebuilt with old oak in 1967. Timber wall plates sealed in the stonework on the east, west and north walls indicate that the walls have been built up in a later phase of development. On the north side this is because the roof of the porch rises higher than the eaves of the nave.

North wall: south doorway of church has a two-centred arch with chamfered jambs and pyramid stops. Original stonework survives (except for one arch stone) and is attributed to the 14thC. Heavy, oak, vertically planked and studded door with wrought ironwork. Timber wall plate sealed in masonry (as described above) and then a small rectangular alcove intended for a statue.

East and west walls: flagstone benches mounted on stone plinths; the west bench utilises a medieval sepulchral slab, split laterally.

Nave. General. One step down from the porch. Stone flagged floor includes gravestones, not visible below the carpets; raised planked floor under benches. Floor slopes gently down from west to east. Batter to north and south walls - all walls plastered and painted; no stonework exposed apart from the dressed stones of the windows and a single incised sandstone block exposed within the westernmost window aperture on the south side. The tops of the side walls have panelling running along their length. Roof is late medieval with six bays formed by five arch-braced trusses with plain struts; exposed rafters and through purlins with two tiers of curved windbraces. Two surviving dormers lit a gallery, and the second truss from the west lacks bracing and has mortice slots that related to the gallery structure.

North wall: splayed window embrasures only, with a broad gap to the north transept at the east end.

East wall: no differentiation other than a change in the roof timberwork.

South wall: square headed, splayed reveal to south door has a lintel formed by a coffin lid bearing an incised cross flanked by sword and axe. One 20thC memorial. The westernmost window has a sepulchral slab fragment built into the reveal.

West wall: plastered, and the west door blocked off. Two hatchments.

North Transept. General. An addition of 1864. Carpetted central aisle and two rows of benches on raised planked floor. Plastered walls and a ceiling with two exposed purlins, and a massive tie-beam (or wallplate?) bridging the full width entrance to the nave.

North wall: stepped lancets with rich coloured stained glass from 1865. Medieval effigy on the window sill with an associated stone plaque set into the wall beneath it.

East and west walls: window embrasures with two-centred soffits.

Chancel. General. One step up to sanctuary. Walls as nave. Seven arch-braced collar trusses, much narrower than the nave arch braces, once supported a wagon ceiling; three through purlins. Wall plates recessed by about 0.5m.

North wall: has a canopied tomb in 14thC Decorated style containing the effigy of a priest. Also a brass of 1713, two marble memorials, one of the 19thC and one of the 20thC, a 20thC brass, and a wooden board, also 20thC.

East wall: a modern reredos.

South wall: windows very deeply splayed. Stone monument of 1721, a metal plaque of 1879 and a brass of 1900.

Churchyard

An original polygonal enclosure with the church almost centrally placed and small extensions on the north-east and perhaps the south-west sides. The first recorded extension was in 1864 with later ones in 1910 and 1931. Very well-kept.

Boundary: stone wall about c.1.2m high around old churchyard, with the Old School House (constructed 1835) on the south, though it should be noted that this has a mounting block provided by the churchwardens and carrying a date of 1774; a hedge to the new north-east extension.

Monuments: mix of sandstone slabs, chests, crosses and table tombs with modern burials in the eastern extension. 17thC and 18thC graves laid flat near the south-west corner of the church, the earliest seen being a 1631 slab.

Attached to the churchyard wall near the south-west entrance is a weathered coffin lid, c.1m long, incised with a round-headed Calvary Cross with possibly a worn head within the circle.

Furniture: opposite the porch is a sundial said to have been created in 1748 from the shaft of the 14thC churchyard cross. The square stem is carved S M Nantgwillim 1748 and church registers for June 1748 refer to "Item: to remove the Old Cross and convert the same to a Dial Post, and purchase a good dial for the same". The dial and gnomon have gone. The head of the cross was sold in 1862 for 5 and presented to St Beuno's College, the proceeds being used to purchase lamps for the church.

Earthworks: raised on the north-west by 0.5m, on the west by 0.2m, but not on the south-east though here there is a curve to the churchyard wall. A slight bank remains on the north-east where the churchyard was extended.

Ancillary features: lychgate, in stone with slate roof and stone coping. The roof has two trusses, that on the church side being a slightly arched tie beam which with the purlins and some of the rafters could be original - perhaps 17thC or 18thC? Tarmac path leads to the porch and bifurcates with branches to north-west, north-east and south-west. A second entrance in the south-west corner entrance leads in through a pair of iron gates with an arch over, set in sandstone pillars carved 'E.D., R.H., Churchwarden 1731'.

Vegetation: 12 large yews encircle the churchyard, the largest and oldest to either side of the south-western path. Four clipped 19thC yews alongside the south-west and south path.

Sources consulted

Church guide n.d.
CPAT Field Visit 30 May 1996 + 17 April 1998
Clwyd SMR
Faculty St Asaph 1874 (NLW): church alterations
Faculty St Asaph 1910 (NLW): churchyard extension
Faculty St Asaph 1943 (NLW): churchyard extension
Glynne 1884, 88
Gresham 1968, 82; 84; 111; 174; 219; 224
Hubbard 1986, 448
NLW, St. Asaph Parish Files F/5.10.1874
NMR Aberystwyth
Quinquennial Report 1989
Thomas 1908, 422
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 Tremeirchion 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 ( 22:01:42 ).
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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