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Flintshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cyngar , Hope

Hope Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Hope in the county of Flintshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ3096558388. At one time it was dedicated to St Cynfarch.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16798 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Hope Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0074.JPG

Summary

St Cyngar's church in Hope was almost certainly founded in the early medieval period, but though the present structure may date from the end of the 13thC it now has the appearance of a Perpendicular double-naved structure with a tower that is probably largely 16thC. The fabric incorporates earlier architectural and sepulchral fragments. Inside are some 15thC glass and fragmentary wall paintings, a figured monument of 1629 and a Jacobean pulpit. The church is set in a raised circular enclosure.

Double-naved church, with the east end of the southern nave with its crypt thought to date from soon after 1281. This was reputedly later extended westwards, but it is difficult to confirm this because the masonry mix in the south nave is so heterogeneous. In the 15thC a north nave was added on a slightly different alignment. There is a west tower in Perpendicular style, believed to have been completed by 1568. A north vestry was added in the 19thC and the building was restored in 1884 and new belfry windows were inserted at this time.

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

History

The dedication, the churchyard morphology and a number of carved stones all point to an early medieval foundation on this spot.

The church is recorded as 'Ecc'a de Estun' in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 at a value of 13s 4d, and in Pope Nicholas's Taxation of 1291, its value is recorded at 14.

The 13thC church was damaged during the war between Edward I and the Welsh Princes. The small amount of compensation paid for the damage suggests that the church was of timber construction. Sometime after 1281, the wooden church was replaced by a stone one, now the eastern end of the south nave.

The building was extended westwards, perhaps in the 14thC. Traces of the south doorway were discovered during the 1953 restoration under the plasterwork at the west end of the south nave.

The present nave (the north nave) was added to the north side of the church in the 15thC and the two east windows in Perpendicular style were inserted. It seems that the 15thC church was dedicated to St Cynfach, a 5thC saint, but Edward Lhwyd and Thomas Pennant claimed that the dedication was to St Cyngar, a 6thC saint, and it is the latter that is now used.

The church was reputedly enlarged by Lady Margaret Beaufort (1441-1509), mother of Henry VII. During restoration work in 1953, two patches of wall paintings were discovered beneath limewash on the north side of the arcade. A date of 1533 was revealed on one of the roundels and this presumably related to reconstruction work undertaken by Lord and Lady Stanley, who also presented the church with a font bearing eagle's claws which has now been transferred to Llanfynydd Church.

The tower was completed in 1568. There is no record of a bell being installed at that time, but three original bells with dates of 1623, 1720 and 1793 were removed in 1920, and melted down to produce a ring of six cast by Taylors of Loughborough.

In 1610, Sir John Trevor built Plas Teg Hall and became a major benefactor of the church. Monumental effigies of he and his wife Margaret were placed in the church, and the east end of the aisle is referred to as the Trevor Chapel.

The east window was reglazed in 1766, a brass gnomon bought for the sundial in 1768 and a new church clock in 1788. A watercolour of the church in c.1780 by Moses Griffith, Thomas Pennant's artist, shows the north aisle with two supporting buttresses, and two square-headed traceried windows of two and three lights, and Thomas noted that 'the foundations of a north aisle lie imbedded beside the nave wall'. The belfry windows in the tower are shown as two-light whereas the present ones are three-light.

Some rebuilding is believed to have taken place in 1812. Subsequently the north wall was rebuilt in 1825 on the 15thC wall foundations and Georgian windows were included. The plastered ceiling was removed from the south aisle and the oak roof exposed. Further work in the 1828 included reseating, the purchase of a new stone font and repairs to the windows.

In 1851 (or 1854 according to Glynne's notes), repairs were carried out to the church roof and yews were planted on the north and east side of the churchyard. The doorway in the north wall was filled in, allowing what had been a porch to become a small vestry. (This structure was extended in 1967 to form modern vestries for the clergy and the choir). The Georgian windows were replaced by the present Gothic fenestration in the north and south walls.

Glynne visited Hope at an unspecified date, but probably soon after 1854. His comments on the windows were not particualrly complimentary, and he noted that the old stone font has been sent to St Matthew's Buckley, to be replaced by 'an ugly modern one'. The two east windows 'abound in fragments of stained glass, figures and scrolls'.

Between 1859 and 1867 further renovation work included reroofing the nave. In 1864, the organ was donated by the Atcherleys of Cymmau Hall and installed in the west end gallery which existed until 187I. In 1867 a new stone font was purchased.

Rebuilding and restoration work in 1885 was supervised by J.O.Scott, son of Sir Gilbert Scott and carried out by a local builder called Probert. The west end gallery and old box pews were removed, the church floor was raised some 15 inches and relaid in tile, the organ was transferred to its present position at the east end of the south aisle, and a screen was erected to separate it from the chancel. Much of the south wall was rebuilt, and two Norman coffin lids, discovered beneath the floor, and two millstones, were inserted as features in the south wall. Two of the east end buttresses were rebuilt, presumably the two to the south side. The total cost was 1550.

Tower masonry was repaired in 1912, and new stone steps were placed at the entrance.

The interior was restored and redecorated in 1953, when the wall paintings were uncovered.

In 1966 considerable rebuilding work took place at the east end of the church. In 1989 repairs were made to the roof.

At the time of writing (1998) the south aisle is filled with scaffolding due to fundamental problems with cracks in the masonry as a result of subsidence. Preliminary work has revealed a lead coffin and possibly traces of an earlier north wall.

Architecture

The church comprises a west tower, and double naves, the one to the south now functioning as an aisle and rather narrower than its northern counterpart. The church is aligned north-east to south-west but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is used here.

Fabrics: 'A' consists mainly of medium to large blocks of buff sandstone and some limestone, mostly quite regular in shape; some coursing. 'B' is of yellow, grey and occasional red sandstone, very irregular in size and coursing, and even occasional rounded blocks; heavily pointed and some limewash flecks. 'C' is of mainly large, well dressed, blocks of medium-grained buff and light brown sandstone; coursed.

'A' is from 1825, 'C' is of the 16thC. 'B' is possibly of the 13thC but similar masonry was used in the 15thC.

Roofs:- slates. Cross finials to the east end of the south aisle and chancel, and the west end of the south aisle.

Drainage:- cast iron downspouts and guttering leading to mains drainage. Possibly a concrete capped drainage trench towards the eastern end of the north side; also on the north and south sides of the tower.

Exterior

Tower - General. In 'C', with some larger blocks forming the basal layers. The broad three-stage tower has four stepped, diagonal buttresses in the same material which rise to the apices of the belfry windows. There is a slightly battered base and a double sandstone plinth rises from c.1m above ground level at the north-east corner to around 2.5m at the west end buttress; the lower plinth has chamfered coping, the upper moulded. A moulded string course divides the first and second stages, and a second string course integrates the hoodmoulds over the belfry windows. Note that the plinths run around the buttresses but the string courses do not. The top of the tower is battlemented and there is a further string course just below the parapet with waterspouts at the angles and an extra one on the north wall. The tower is topped by battlements and surmounted by a pyramidal slate roof with a weathervane.

North wall:- there are no windows in the lowest stage, the second stage has a small square-headed window under a large stone lintel which might be re-used. The belfry window has a two-centred, unchamfered arch with louvred triple lancets and intersecting Y-tracery. This probably dates to the 1880s.

East wall:- visible above nave roof. There is a square-headed window as in the north wall but without the heavy lintel; this window is used as an outlet for a downspout. The belfry window as the north wall. An earlier roofline with a steeper pitch than the present one is visible about 1m above it.

South wall:- belfry window as the north wall and a slit window to the second stage, again with an unusual lintel. The tower stair has a square-headed unchamfered slit at ground floor level and two similar ones in the second stage, all near the south-west angle.

West wall:- the west entrance has a four-centred chamfered arch of 16thC date with moulded chamfers, a mix of worn grey sandstone and later renewal in yellow and red sandstone. Above this is a window of three lights with depressed ogee heads and mixed panel tracery, set under a four-centred arch with a hoodmould which is integrated into the lowest string course. Above is clock face bearing an 1880 date and a belfry window as the north wall. A small, but architecturally rather fine, window with a two-centred arch, moulded dressings and label lights the tower stair to the south side of the main west window.

Nave - General. In 'A' on the north side and may include re-used stone (the limestone?); in 'B' on the east side. No external differentiation between the nave and chancel.

North wall:- plinth at c.0.5m at the east end drops to ground level and below surface level towards the west end. The wall was rebuilt in 1825 and a rectangular early grave slab in grey sandstone with a incised round-headed cross was set between the second and last windows to the east. The three windows date from 1851. The central one consists of a two-centred arch with three cinquefoiled, ogee-headed lights with heavily cusped tracery, and to either side are windows with four-centred arches containing pairs of cinquefoiled, two-centred lights. All the dressings are in yellow sandstone and some mullion stones have already been renewed. At the west end, between the vestry and the tower, a short and lower length of wall, c.0.7m long, connects with the tower and is probably part of the earlier nave.

East wall:- in 'B' but the stonework more regular than the masonry in the equivalent wall of the south nave; part of the gable is in 'A'. Chamfered plinth at the base of the wall. A central buttress, rising almost to the level of the valley between the two nave roofs, masks the juncture of the two naves. This buttress does not look to be original but the stepped buttress at the north-east corner is 15thC. The east window has a two-centred arch, five, two-centred lights, sub-arches and panel tracery. All the dressings have been renewed in yellow sandstone; iron grilles protect the glass. A short central buttress below the window was added during modern repairs to the east end and contains a roll-moulded architectural fragment comparable with that in the vestry reveal (see interior below). Possibly a crypt below the chancel?

South wall: as on the north side a short stretch of wall connects the nave and tower. This incorporates a stone inscribed 'Mors Omnibus Communis' with carved spandrels over a linear stone with chevron carvings. These are located about 1.5m above ground level.

North vestry - General. Built of large regular blocks of sandstone, some probably re-used. Adjoins the north wall on the nave at the west end. Constructed in 1850 when it replaced a north porch, and enlarged in 1967 in sandstone, it is now of irregular plan. It has rounded corners, and is lit by modern square-headed slit windows and has an east-facing doorway.

South aisle - General. In 'B'.

East wall:- The east wall is believed to date from the late 13thC, and its alignment is fractionally different from that of the north nave east wall. Into this was inserted a 15thC window with a two-centred arch with a worn hoodmould over four wide, plain lights with sub-arches and panel tracery; the dressings have been renewed in yellow sandstone, except for some of the hoodmould. A short south-east buttress in fine grained yellow sandstone appears to have been added during the 15thC and is similar to that at the north-east angle of the chancel.

Boiler house:- located below the east end of the south aisle, it was converted from a crypt which had its entrance below the east window. In 1884 the rear of the crypt was walled up and the remainder was converted. The boiler house has a stony floor and a barrel-vaulted roof. Mason's marks are visible on the dressed stones of the walling.

South wall:- this is a heterogeneous mix of masonry with heavy pointing and it is not possible to determine the phasing which is surely represented in the wall. There are three 19thC windows as on the north side with patching around them. Between the two more easterly windows is a buttress, constructed in the 19thC to support the chimney, also in yellow sandstone, which rises above the roof. Set into the buttress is an ornate carved stone displaying a running chevron pattern, and a second carved stone with a round-headed cross is set into the wall above the buttress. West of the buttress is a blocked priest's door cut by the inserted window. Its two-centred arch with chamfered, yellow sandstone dressings is still visible in outline. Further west the wall incorporates a fragment of a pink sandstone gravestone, and two millstones have been built into the wall near the westernmost window - one visible in full and one in part. Towards the west angle is a blocked rectangular 'doorway', perhaps a former gallery entrance, and below this about 0.6m off the ground the wall contains a fragment of an 18thC gravestone. Either side of this are long and short jambs to a height of about 0.8m, signalling a blocked south doorway.

West wall:- the stonework is better coursed than the south wall, and there are larger blocks at the base with a wider variety of coloured sandstones, perhaps all original. The window with a quasi-shouldered arch, beneath which are three, narrow ogee-headed lights and two shield-shaped panel lights. Hubbard thought it could be either Decorated or Perpendicular.

Interior

Tower - General. The ground floor is used as a baptistry and a flight of six stone steps leads up from the west door. 19thC tiled floor. Walls have exposed stonework in the form of dressed blocks. Oak floor below ringing chamber supported on heavy joists. The second stage contains the clock mechanism and ringing chamber, the third stage the bell chamber. The steel bell frame is supported on brickwork. The Interior stonework is much rougher on the upper floors than the dressed exterior. The tower stair displays a good array of masons' marks.

North wall:- one 20thC brass and a wooden board listing the fees for the church.

East wall:- a high two-centred chamfered arch to the nave, of three orders, with moulded capitals and chamfers.

South wall:- in the wall adjacent to the south-west angle is the tower stair doorway with a four-centred arch and chamfered dressings. On the wall wooden Royal Arms of George III, and a marble memorial of 1808.

West wall:- from 1968 an inner wooden doorway forms a porch in the deep four-centred reveal. Above this is a splayed window aperture, with one of the sill slabs reported to be a re-used gravestone.

Nave - General. 19thC tiled floor includes iron heating grilles; benches on woodblock flooring. All walls plastered and painted light blue, leaving only the dressings of the windows exposed. A continuous roof across the nave and chancel dates to the early 19thC restoration: five bays formed by four collar trusses with king struts, and exposed rafters, through purlins and a ceiling plastered above.

North wall:- the reveal to the vestry entrance has a segmental head; a stone carved with roll mouldings is built into the west side of the reveal. Further east there are war memorials and two marbles of 19thC date.

East wall:- one step up to the chancel.

South wall:- an arcade formed by four wide, two-centred arches supported by three octagonal stone piers with expanded capitals, the facets fluted at the top, splayed bases topped by ring mouldings, and east and west responds; the arches have two chamfered orders, and the dressings are in pale buff sandstone. The fourth bay separates the chancel from the Trevor Chapel in the south nave. At the west end and attached to the wall is a panel with a wall painting fragment on it, and above the arches are two patches of paintings.

West wall:- arch as described above under 'Tower'. Some patching to the dressings.

North vestry - General. 19thC addition. Tiled floor, painted walls and a flat ceiling.

South wall:- the doorway has a two-centred arch and hollow chamfers with pyramid stops.

Chancel - General. Stepped up from the nave; tiled floors, some encaustic, with raised planked floors beneath the longitudinal choir stalls; one step to the sanctuary and two to the altar.

North wall:- marble memorials of 1722 and 1828, and a stone one of 1785.

East wall:- east window with late medieval stained glass.

South wall:- as noted above under 'Nave' the arcade continues, separating the chancel from the Trevor Chapel and organ chamber. There are traces of wall paintings above the arch.

West wall:- the rood screen of three traceried panels to either side of a central arch.

South aisle - General. [Note that at the time of the last visit the south aisle was largely inaccessible. Excavation at the east end had revealed a lead coffin with 'W. H. 1746']. The floor, all on one level, is a mix of herringbone woodblock and 19thC tiles, with some heating grilles. Walls as nave. The 15thC roof consists of seven bays formed by eight arch-braced collar trusses with cusped struts and principals, and exposed rafters, through purlins and cusped windbraces. This roof shows signs of re-use and modification: the central trusses are different at their terminals with extensions on the north side indicative of a change in design. The east end of the aisle was formerly the Trevor Chapel, but since 1884 has held the large organ.

North wall:- arcade as described above, with the most easterly bay screened off. A Consecration(?) cross is cut into the arcade pillar opposite the centre window.

East wall:- the window contains medieval stained glass, the quarries of different coloured glass.

South wall:- the upper part of a double piscina located below the Trevor Memorial; it has two simple two-centred heads with chamfered dressings and is painted dark red, and Hubbard attributed an Early English date to it. Memorials on the wall from 1629 (two), 19thC marble memorials (three) and three 20thC brasses. Also a modern painting.

West wall:- one splayed aperture.

Churchyard

The churchyard is a raised circular enclosure slightly truncated on its western side by a road widening scheme in 1979 and more drastically cut back on the north and east sides. It is well-maintained. A large gravel car parking area was constructed in the 1960s on the north side of the churchyard and there is also a new churchroom on this side.

Boundary:- a revetment wall is constructed in rubble on the north and north-west, and in addition there is a bank with a hedge on top on the north-west. A 1773 datestone is set in the wall on the west side. The eastern boundary is formed by a hedge and a wooden fence just outside it. The north and east boundaries are now straight, that on the north separating the car park from the churchyard.

Monuments:- burials fairly evenly distributed on all sides of the church and some dating from the 18thC. One possible early 18thC slab now covered over, and the earliest date seen was of 1763. By the mid-19thC, the churchyard was unable to cope with more burials and in 1864 a separate parcel of land was purchased for use as a cemetery.

Furniture:- a carinated, baluster sandstone pillar, standing on an octagonal plinth near the south path has lost its sundial and gnomon.

Ancillary features:- the present west entrance consists of a pair of ornamental iron gates set in stone pillars and a stepped and walled entrance leading up to the west door. There are south-west and south stiles above flights of steps, as well as a gate to the latter, a wooden gate on the north-west side and a pair of iron gates with an overarch, leading in from car parking area on the north. A gate to the rectory on the east. Tarmac and stone paths surround the church and include some grave slabs.

Earthworks:- raised by 0.5m on the north, and 2-3m on the west and south. The interior is generally rather irregular, and there is some mounding immediately north of the church.

Vegetation:- five yew trees, one in the rectory garden, encircle the churchyard with an infilling of beech trees and a mix of bushes, and a sixth yew closer to the centre of the churchyard.

Sources consulted

Church guide 1976
CPAT Field Visits: 4 July 1996 and 27 November 1998
Clwyd SMR
Evans, n.d.
Faculty: St Asaph 1884 (NLW): restoration
Faculty: St Asaph 1979 (NLW): loss of part of churchyard for road widening
Glynne, 1884, 257
Hubbard 1986, 376
Lewis 1833
Lhwyd 1909-11.
Pennant 1784, 435
Quinquennial Report 1994
RCAHMW 1912, 48
Thomas, 1911, 394
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 Hope 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 ( 22:01:57 ).
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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