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Flintshire Churches Survey

Church of St Eurgain and St Peter , Northop

Northop Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Northop in the county of Flintshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ2463768486.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 100307 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Northop Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0091.JPG

Summary

The church of Ss Eurgain and Peter in the parish of Northop lies less than 3 miles from Mold. It has a fine Perpendicular tower but the main body of the church was completely rebuilt in 1839 except for an internal arcade, and the east wall of the chancel was replaced in 1850 to include a new east window. Inside there is a Perpendicular camberbeam roof, some medieval effigies and some 18thC memorials, but most of the furnishings and fittings were replaced at the time of the restoration or later. It is set within a rectangular churchyard which has been largely cleared of early gravestones.

The west tower is of the 15thC-16thC, though it is said to have been completed in 1571. The double-naved church is of 1839-40, except for the medieval arcade and the east wall of 1850. The interior is largely the result of refurbishment in 1877.

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

History

The village is otherwise known as Llaneurgain, and the church was reputedly founded by St Eurgain, niece of St Asaph, sometime in the mid 6thC. The dedication apart there is, however, little to suggest that this is an early medieval foundation. Nothwithstanding this the early church is claimed to have been a clas site.

Northop church is recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Ecc'a de Lhanensgeyn' with a value of 5, and in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291as 'Ecclesia de Llanewrgain cum Capella sua de Flynd taxatur' at 30 6s 8d.

It is believed that the 13thC church consisted of a single chamber and was extended eastwards in the mid-14thC when a small crypt was constructed below the new sanctuary (now the north-east vestry with a heating chamber installed in the crypt). Two corbels on the north wall of the nave remain from the 14thC. Sometime after 1282, the dedication to St Peter was added to that of St Eurgain.

The church was enlarged in the 15thC under the patronage of the Stanleys. A new nave was added to the south side and a four-bay arcade was inserted into the south wall of the earlier church. The original sanctuary at the east end of what became the north aisle was converted to a Lady Chapel.

It is claimed on the basis of a gargoyle carrying a date that the tower was completed in 1571.

In his will proved in 1658 Owen Jones left bequests for modifying and enlarging the porch in the church, and paving a path with flagstones between it and the west gate of the churchyard. Owen Jones's grave is laid flat on the south side of churchyard.

The 18thC church was in a poor state of repair. In 1729, the vicar reported that while the exterior was acceptable, the interior needed whitening. There were rushes on the floor and he suggested that flagstones needed relaying in parts of the aisles. The roof had been recently reslated and releaded. By 1792-3, the condition of the church had worsened. The architect, Sillitoe, reported on the perilous state of the church; the floor was unevenly flagged and old pews needed repairing. This report led to a decision that the floors strewn with rushes were to be boarded or flagged, the size and position of the pews was to be reassessed, and church furnishings were to be moved to more convenient positions.

An 1806 report referred to the decaying timbers in the roof; the ruinous condition of the main body of the church contrasted with the fine tower, which appeared to be in good condition. In 1810 W. Turner, an architect of Whitchurch, suggested repairs and a programme of rebuilding, commenting on the necessity to take down the arcade which was badly cracked. But his proposals were turned down. New pews were set up and a gallery was erected at the west end in 1823, but no repairs were made to the fabric of the church. In 1830, the vicar reported on the subsidence of the arcade, movement in the south wall and the poor state of the roof.

In 1837, John Welch of Holywell recommended employing local craftsmen to make safe the roof until major repairs could be undertaken. A year later, the plans of Thomas Jones, an architect from Chester, were adopted. Rebuilding work began in 1839 and the church was re-opened in 1840. New walls were erected but the length of the church was shortened; the arcade, previously of seven bays was reduced to five. Battlements and pinnacles on the walls mirrored those on the old church, and the plaster vaulting in the tower was added. The oak roof was propped up while the new walls were built. The Jacobean font, the pews, the communion table and the pulpit were all retained. Any medieval glass was replaced. A contemporary illustration of the rebuilding of the church appears in the Church Guide, and depicts a south porch being taken down. Sepulchral effigies were removed from the Lady Chapel and were inserted into recesses in the north wall.

A memorial window to the Reverend Henry Jones was erected in the east window in 1850 and the entire wall was rebuilt to the design of William Butterfield. The rebuilding of this east wall resulted in the loss of the Decalogue which had been painted in stucco. A new set with zinc frames was painted in 1856 by Morris of Chester.

Glynne visited Northop sometime after 1840. He described the lofty tower and the rebuilding of 1840, the presence of several monumental effigies and a pulpit with Jacobean woodwork.

The interior was refurbished in 1876/7. Restoration work included reflooring, removing the box pews and re-seating, replacing the west door and screen, cleaning the piers and arcade, removing the west gallery, removing paint from the roof and introducing a new prayer desk, lectern, pulpit and altar rails. The restoration work was to the design of John Douglas of Chester.

A brass plate on the south inner wall of the tower records recasting of three early bells in 1891 and the addition of three new bells. Two treble bells were added in 1895.

1914 restoration work on the tower was to the plans of Prothero, Philpott and Barnard of Cheltenham.

A new lectern and bible were introduced in 1938; the organ was overhauled in 1949 and electric blower added. In 1950, the plain glass in the west window was replaced by the present rose window.

Architecture

The church is a double-naved structure, the north nave more like an aisle than a true nave, with a tower at the west end of the south nave. It is oriented slightly north of true east and for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is used in this report.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of medium to large linear blocks of buff-brown sandstone ashlar, regularly coursed throughout. 'B' is of orange-brown sandstone, well dressed but not ashlar; less regularly coursed than 'A'. 'C' is random limestone rubble with irregular coursing, found on the inner wall facings. 'D' is a mix of limestone and fine, grey sandstone.

Roofs:- slates. Cross finials at the east end of the north aisle and the chancel.

Drainage:- guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. Around the wall footings the ground is either concreted or tarmac. No obvious indications of a drainage trench.

Exterior

Tower - General. Five-stage tower in 'A', from the 15thC/16thC. There is a double basal, moulded plinth with slightly hollowed coping stones, to a height of about 1m above ground level. The walls have four decorated quatrefoil bands and string courses, although these do not correlate with the tower stages. There are seven string courses in all: the first links with the string course below the battlements of the north nave; the second has a decorated quatrefoil band; the fifth and sixth partition off the belfry windows; and the seventh has gargoyles on it, another quatrefoil frieze below it and above it a final inset stage, basically a parapet. The gargoyles project on all sides and one at the south-west angle has a date of 1571 on it. The battlemented parapet has eight crocketed pinnacles. A flag pole rises from what appears to be a flat roof.

North wall:- the second stage has a small square-headed window with chamfered, moulded dressings, containing a single, worn, multifoil light set above the lower quatrefoil frieze. The third stage has a four-centred arch with a hoodmould and grotesque stops over a pair of blind, cinquefoiled, ogee-headed lights with Y-tracery, and a transom separating them from a pair of trefoiled, two-centred lights, also blind. In the fourth stage is the belfry window consisting of paired, foiled and louvred windows with four-centred arches; each window has a pair of foiled, two-centred lights, a transom, and beneath, further foiled lights. All are louvred, and a string course rides over the arch as a hoodmould. The windows in both the third and fourth stages look to have quite fresh stonework. At the north-west angle is a diagonal five-stage, stepped buttress which rises to the string course below the battlements.

East wall;- the upper stages are visible above the south nave roofline. The second stage has a pair of multifoil lights in a square-headed frame, while the third and fourth stage windows are the same as in the north wall. One difference from the north wall is that the string course of the third stage has another quatrefoil frieze running below it but the quatrefoils are aligned differently from those above and below, and are in square rather than circular frames.

South wall:- diagonal buttresses at both the south-west and south east angles are equivalent to that at the north-west angle. The first stage has a empty niche with an ogee-headed canopy, set in a square-headed canopy. Next another band of quatrefoil decoration, of a different design to those on the north and east faces, beneath a string course. Then two multifoil lights and above them a clock face. In the third and fourth stages, standard windows as seen in the north wall, but the higher window is well off centre, presumably because the internal tower stair runs up through this wall. It is evidenced by four slit windows, two in the first stage, one in the second stage and one in the third - with two-centred heads and chamfered dressings, and small labels over them; the highest is also the longest.

West wall:- at ground floor level is a square-framed Tudor doorway with heraldic emblems in the spandrels, and a four-centred archway. Its dressings were renewed in a light-coloured sandstone in 1965, but Hubbard remarked that the detailing is not authentic. Above the label, which terminates in Tudor Rose stops, is a portcullis design, reportedly the armorial badge of the Beaufort family. Higher but also in the first stage is a two-centred window with four, cinquefoiled, ogee-headed lights, and transoms and foiled tracery above. How much renewal of the dressings has occurred is impossible to ascertain. A continuous hoodmould extends as a string course to the corner buttresses, so eight on this wall. Next a square-headed window with a single multifoil, and a standard window above, and all four decorative friezes.

North aisle - General. In 'B', though the basal plinth is in rougher masonry which carries traces of limewash - re-used stonework from the earlier church? A basal plinth, c.0.6m high along the north wall, and c.0.5m high on the west wall. Battlemented parapet.

North wall:- the wall is in five bays created by four ordinary buttresses and diagonal buttresses at the corners, all surmounted by crocketed pinnacles. The internal tomb recesses are set behind the straight buttresses. Each bay contains a four-centred window over a pair of cusped, ogee-headed lights with small tracery lights above, and a hoodmould over the arch which has simple stops. Grilles to the windows, and beneath the most easterly window a grille at ground level suggests an underground boiler room.

East wall:- separated from the chancel by a straight buttress from which rises an octagonal chimney. Its battlemented parapet is lower than that of the chancel. The window has a four-centred arch over three cusped, ogee-headed lights with cusped tracery above, and a hoodmould. Oil tank against the wall.

West wall:- square-headed frame to the west doorway with a label over; a four-centred, hollow-chamfered arch with sunken spandrels; a pair of panelled doors with wrought ironwork. Above this is a window similar to but smaller than those in the north wall: a four-centred arch with a hoodmould over a pair of cusped, ogee-headed lights with small tracery lights.

Nave - General. Only the south wall is visible externally. Four windows to the same pattern as those in the north wall of the north nave. Three buttresses separate the wall into bays and a fourth buttress effectively marks the divide between the nave and chancel. Basal plinth as on the north wall.

Chancel - General. Basal plinth continues from north nave.

East wall:- the Geometrical window from 1850 is to a different design than the windows in the rest of the building, and has a two-centred arch with hoodmould and five trefoiled, two-centred lights with a large central cinquefoil flanked by two round-headed lights. A relieving arch above the hoodmould. A string course dog-legs under the window, and over a string course with a hollow soffit, similar to that of the north nave.

South wall:- a continuation of the nave wall with two standard windows and a buttress between.

Interior

Tower - General. Stone flagged floor; walls lined with ashlar blocks, presumably of late medieval date. A vaulted ceiling of 1839 springs from stone corbels in the angles, each of a different design; these don't appear to be 19thC. Bosses at the intersections of the ribs include arms of local families such as the Grosvenors, the Lloyds and the Bankes; the ribs are painted in red and black and 'IHS' is painted on the plasterwork between. The ground floor is occupied by a baptistry dating from 1839-40. The bell chamber retains the original oak bell frame, but the interior has been refaced with breeze blocks.

North wall:- a First World War memorial and one 19thC memorial plaque.

East wall:- a high four-centred arch which was reset in 1839, and has heavily moulded, engaged pillars, with traceried niches on the reveal and intrados.

South wall:- staircase doorway with a two-centred arch but no chamfer, gives access to the upper stages. Three brasses refer to the 19thC restoration and to the re-casting of the bells.

West wall:- the west doorway has a four-centred reveal. An inner, panelled entrance porch below the four-light window.

North aisle - General. Stone flagged floor with iron heating grilles, and flush planked floors under the benches. Walls of exposed stone in 'C'. Roof has twelve bays of sloping wooden panels, resting on 19thC stone corbels on the north wall. On the south side the principals are set into the wall over the arcade. The east end is panelled off, in line with the fourth pier, to form a vestry. This is raised by one step and had a stone and brick floor, while the walls and roof are a continuation of the aisle. A large part of it is occupied by the organ, but there is a further step up to what was formerly the site of an altar.

North wall:- four effigies of 13thC and 14thC date set in tomb recesses with four-centred arches; the most easterly, in the vestry, is smaller than the others, and the arch, though four-centred and chamfered, is in brick, as is the rest of the soffit of the recess. Above this is a marble memorial with an illegible inscription but early 18thC or perhaps late 17thC. Also marble memorials of 1750, 1768, 1798 and several of 19thC date, and a brass of 1741/2 and two 19thC brasses.

East wall:- two large stone Decalogue tablets to either side of the east window.

South wall:- five-bay arcade with the most easterly bay separating the vestry and the chancel. The arches are two-centred and of two orders in dressed grey sandstone; supported on octagonal stone piers with moulded capitals and bases. At the extreme east end is a further arch in 14thC style, lower but of two orders, the outer two-centred, the inner ogee-headed with cinquefoil tracery: it was probably part of a tomb recess from the early church and is certainly original. The wall above the arcade and at the west end is in 'D'.

West wall:- a disused embrasure with a wooden lintel to the external doorway below two cinquefoiled lights. The wall is in 'C' but in the south-west angle is a wall junction and at the top the wall corbels out in beehive fashion to the roof. Also on the west wall is traceried panelling of 19thC or later date.

Nave - General. Carpetted central aisle with wrought iron grilles to underfloor heating vents and flush planked floors below the benches. Exposed stone to walls and the windows have round-headed embrasures with relieving arches above. A panelled, camberbeam roof of perhaps 15thC or even 16thC date has six bays (and continues across the chancel for which see below). The camberbeams rest on short wall posts and wooden corbels, and there are intermediate trusses. All, together with the purlins and the cornices, are moulded. Some of the timbers have been renewed but it is difficult to gauge how many. Two of the corbels have also been claimed as 14thC, though they could surely be later: on the north side the most westerly corbel is of a man's head and the fourth from the west end appears to be an eagle or mythological beast with a man's face.

North wall:- arcade as north aisle (above). One 20thC brass on a pillar.

East wall:- one step up to the chancel. A low stone and marble screen to either side. A camberbeam overhead.

South wall:- wall face in 'C'. Five marble memorials of 19thC date and seven brasses of 19thC and 20thC date.

West wall:- the moulded four-centred arch to the tower, and the surrounding wall is faced in ashlar.

Chancel - General. Tiled floor, some encaustic, includes a marble slab to the Wynns from 1743 to 1813, and to the west of it a brass plaque set in the floor; two steps up to the sanctuary and one to the altar. Walls as nave, though the east wall was rebuilt in 1850. Roof of two and a half bays as the nave, but the ribs, purlins and wooden panels are all painted: red, white, black and buff.

North wall:- the sanctuary wall on this and the east side is plastered and painted with a biblical scene, floral designs and the like. In the chancel a parclose screen set in the arcade bay to the vestry. Also two 20thC brasses.

East wall:- wall painted and a painted inscription on the stones of the window arch. The reredos is also painted.

South wall:- 19thC piscina in a cusped niche, and a sedile beneath the sanctuary window. Two late 19thC brasses.

Churchyard

The early rectangular churchyard was enlarged in 1837 and again in 1866 to the north of the present vehicular access; it was extended in the early 20thC by a burial ground in the north-east corner. A 1911 datestone in the wall marks this extension beyond the old Grammar School. It was further extended in this direction in the 1920s.

Boundary:- a stone wall on all sides. A date stone of 1837 is set in the churchyard wall on the west side. It names Thomas Tomlinson and Edward Jones, churchwardens when this stretch of wall was built.

Monuments:- there are a few marked graves on the south side, but the ground has been levelled and landscaped, and graveslabs are used for walkways around the church. The earliest marker is of 1659, one of the few on the south side of the church, and there is one of 1718 laid flat on the north side. Some other 18thC examples but mostly 19thC. There are some large monuments by the east wall of the church, including a large marble chest surmounted by a limestone cross on a boulder marking the Huntley family burials. Entrances to vaults (or crypts) beneath the east end of the north nave and the chancel are still visible.

Earthworks:- the church appears to be slightly raised, particularly when viewed from the north where a definite platform can be seen. Conceivably it might mark the original edge of the churchyard. The churchyard is also raised, by nearly 1.5m on the south and west, and 1m on the north.

Ancillary features:- the worn sandstone head of a two-centred window with six ogee-headed tracery lights and part of two ogee-headed main lights, is set in the 1911 extension wall and is presumed to have come from the early east window. There is a double-gate entrance to the lower burial ground, and in the south-west and south-east corners stepped entrances to the churchyard, four and seven steps respectively; the former has a large iron gate, the latter a smaller one. Tarmac paths. The old Grammar School lies against the east wall of the churchyard.

Vegetation:- a mix of yews, cherry trees and lilacs, all of 19thC or later date. Yews along the north side of the churchyard.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visits: 21 November 1996 and 11 December 1998
CPAT SMR
Faculty: St Asaph 1837 (NLW): addition to churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1866 (NLW): addition to churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1876 (NLW): restoration faculty
Faculty: St Asaph 1912 (NLW): addition to churchyard
Flintshire County Record Office: P/45/1/90 (1686); P/45/1/91 (18thC); P/45/1/362 (1839); P/45/1/269 (1876); P/45/1/279 (1949)
Glynne 1884, 185
Gresham 1968, 82, 133, 198-202, 205, 237
Hubbard 1986, 406
Lloyd 1957
Pritchard 1976
RCAHMW 1912, 77
Quinquennial Report 1994
Thomas 1911, 428
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 Northop Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.


The CPAT Flintshire 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 ( 22:02:02 ).
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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