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Flintshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cynderyn , Llanasa

Llanasa Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanasa in the county of Flintshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1064981425.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16809 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanasa Church, CPAT copyright photo CS962206.JPG

Summary

The church of St Asaph and St Kentigern at Llanasa is recorded in Domesday Book and is presumed to be an early medieval site. The present double-naved structure was erected in the 15thC in Perpendicular style but the variable fabric suggests that the building has undergone widespread renovation and rebuilding over the centuries. Inside there is 16thC stained glass in the east windows, a Perpendicular font, 14thC sepulchral slabs and a 17thC pulpit. The small, irregularly-shaped churchyard includes a 1605 tomb chest for Sir Piers Mostyn, a sundial of 1762 and a reconstructed 1725 lychgate.

A Perpendicular double-naved church dating to 15thC, though the heterogeneous nature of the wall masonry indicates considerable rebuilding and/or patching. Conceivably the south nave is earlier than its northern counterpart and some of the walling on the south could be from a 13thC or 14thC structure.

The date of the tower is uncertain. Could it be 17thC as suggested by Glynne?

The internal arcade was built in 1739 in 16thC style.

The south porch was added in 1877 during a major restoration.

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

History

The church has a dual dedication to St Asaph and St Kentigern, both 6thC saints. This together with the location suggest an early medieval foundation, and this is reinforced by the record of the church in the Domesday survey of 1087.

A grant of the rectorial tithes was made between 1240 and 1247 to the Dean and Chapter of St Asaph and the church appears in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Ecc'a de Llanassa' at a value of 4, and in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 'Ecclesia de Llanassaph' was recorded at 10 13s 4d.

The present building dates largely to the 15thC.

Restoration work is recorded in 1739, 1746, 1766, 1818 and 1877. In 1739, the pillars and arches of the arcade were rebuilt in 16thC style and the roof of the north aisle was replaced though the existing principal trusses were reused.

The chancel screen was removed in 1818 and the church was reseated with pews of varying sizes.

Glynne visited Llanasa in 1854. He thought the 'steeple' 17thC, and the whole of the north and south walls were modern, presenting ugly 'Venetian' (i.e. Georgian) windows, 'a few of which had lately been altered into square heads'. Stained glass in the east window of the south aisle was said to have come from Basingwerk Abbey. The arcade was late in date and there was a north porch.

A new bell was introduced in 1862 and an organ placed in the gallery at the west end of the north aisle.

In 1873 proposed restoration work by G. E. Street included reseating with open seats, tiling the aisles and raising the chancel with an approach by two steps, new roofs including panelling over the chancel, a new south porch, new windows, a vestry at the east end of the chancel, moving the organ to the east end, rebuilding one of the arches and generally carrying out repairs and alterations. The eastern gable on the northern side was rebuilt. The cost was 1900 and the church was re-opened in 1877.

Architecture

Llanasa is a double-naved structure with a small western tower against the north nave and a south porch. It is oriented east-north-east/west-south-west, but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of small to medium blocks and slabs of buff-coloured sandstone, with occasional red sandstone blocks; irregularly coursed. 'B' is of local carboniferous limestone; irregularly coursed; occasional limewash residues. 'C' is of square and rectangular quarry-cut blocks of sandstone 'D' is of fine-grained sandstone ashlar. 'E' is in yellow sandstone and incorporates long linear blocks of stone; also occasional sandstone of other colours and limestone; irregular coursing; some limewash residues. Similar to but not the same as 'A'. 'F' is of rough cut, quarried sandstone, the medium-sized blocks regularly coursed and with ashlar dressings. 'G' consists of slabs and some blocks of buff sandstone, regular coursing. 'H' is akin to 'A' but is a mixture of buff sandstone and limestone.

'A' and 'B' are 15thC, and 'H' might be of this date; 'G' may be mid-18thC; 'E' is probably later 18thC if not 19thC, though in the tower it could be earlier; 'C', 'D' and 'F' are 19thC.

Roofs:- slates with blue ceramic ridge tiles. Cross finials over east and west gables, except for the west end of the north aisle.

Drainage:- north and south wall guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. No obvious drain on north side, though the ground level is only just below the windows; nothing either on south and east.

Exterior

North nave - General.

North wall:- Masonry in this wall is extremely mixed suggesting considerable modifications over the centuries. At the west end the basal 0.4m or so in masonry of 'A'- type. Above this the masonry is 'E'. However about 2m east of the corner it changes to 'G' which seems to indicate some rebuilding, presumably when the door of 1750 was inserted. The features from the west are: i) a round-headed doorway, the dressings with stopped chamfers in fine grained sandstone, and incised 'Edward Ffoulks, William Jones, Chr Wardens 1750'. The ground level here is cut away to allow flagged entrance steps to the door. ii) a window with a square-headed frame and three round-headed lights; depressed spandrels; the yellow sandstone dressings are original. 17thC or perhaps later, but more weathered than the stonework of the doorway. iii) a square-headed window containing three cinquefoiled, two-centred lights with cusped, panel lights above; from the 1874-7 restoration. Between iii) and iv) the masonry may be 'G'. iv) a square-headed window with a single cinquefoiled light; perspex sheet over the window to protect the stained glass. Beyond this window the masonry is 'A', but the stonework at lower levels in the wall is more homogeneous and might indicate rebuilding at higher levels. v) window comparable with iii). vi) a single-light window comparable with iv). Beyond this window the masonry reverts to 'E' and includes quarry-cut blocks with less potentially re-used material. New quoins added at the corner.

East wall:- in 'H', with the north-east angle obviously rebuilt. The east window has a two-centred arch with four cinquefoiled, round-headed lights and cusped, panel tracery, and a hoodmould; deeply hollowed chamfers. The sill and many of the dressings including some mullion stones, occasional jambstones and the whole hoodmould renewed. It should be noted that the window is not centrally placed in the wall and this could indicate that the roof and perhaps the north wall have been raised.

West wall:- appears to be in 'E', but some of the wall face obscured, and the quoins at the north-west angle have been replaced. The small tower projects off this wall. To either side of this are single trefoiled, two-centred lights. That to the north of the tower is in modern, fine grained, grey sandstone to match the 19thC light to the south of the tower.

Tower - General. A small square tower in 'E', and of uncertain date. It has a deeply splayed base rising to 1.6m above ground level. A string course runs below the turret and the masonry is stepped in above this level on the east and west sides; there is a pyramidal stone cap to the tower surmounted by a cross finial; east and west two-centred apertures for the single bell. The north and south sides, have small dormer lights.

South nave - General. The south nave is on a very slightly different alignment to that of the north nave on the basis of faint changes in the axes of the east and west walls.

East wall:- most of the wall is in 'B' but above the window and in places around it is in 'G'-type masonry which lacks any limewash residue, suggesting a relatively modern date, though it does contain occasional lumps of red sandstone which is probably re-used. A wide four-centred window with five lights and panel tracery; the three central lights have ogee heads, the flanking lights are round-headed; the hoodmould has been renewed except for the original head stops. Sill and mullions renewed. The chamfers to the dressings are less hollowed than their counterparts in the east window of the north aisle.

South wall:- a heterogeneous mixture of masonry types. The quoins at the west end are of worn sandstone. The fabric at this end appears to be an 'H' variation, though heavy pointing tends to obscure the masonry. Features from the west are: i) a restoration-period window with two-centred arch over two cinquefoiled, two-centred lights and a multifoil tracery light above; in fine-grained yellow sandstone. Surrounding the window is shaped sandstone, a pure variation of 'E'. ii) south porch. iii) a sandstone tablet records 'Thomas Jones, Vicr. Michael Hughes, Thomas Parr, Churchwards. Anno Doni 1746'. iv) a two-light window as i) but the multifoil light is replaced by two cusped panel lights; again some 'E' masonry surrounds the window. v) a recess with chamfered sides which may have contained another datestone, the face of which has completely flaked away. Between iv) and vi) the wall is in 'H' but at the lowest levels the stonework is more 'E'-like. vi) window as i). Immediately to the east is an area of 'B' which could conceivably indicate the former position of a priest's door. Next more 'H' and inset into this a large square block of sandstone with an armorial shield which has now largely disappeared. viii) another window as iv). ix) another block with an armorial shield, both of these being sited above the Mostyn tomb. x) a deep sloping buttress adjoins the south-east angle, c.1.3m wide, and effectively forms a continuation of the east wall; constructed in 'B' and of uncertain date.

West wall:- primarily in 'B' but rebuilt in 'G' from below eaves level, though re-using 'B' limestone. Clear traces of the roof having been raised. At the base of the wall a semi-subterranean boiler house and behind this some 'G'-type masonry which could indicate some rebuilding. Just above the top of the boiler house a decorated stone and other atypical stones uitlised in this part of the wall.

Porch - General. From 1874-7, in 'F'. A basal plinth, c.0.3m high, along the sides and part of the front wall.

East wall:- plain.

South wall:- a two-centred open doorway of two orders with stopped chamfers on the jambs.

West wall:- plain.

Interior

Porch- General. Red and black tiled floor; exposed stonework to the walls, with wooden benches running along the east and west walls. There is a Victorian arch-braced roof of six trusses, plastered above.

North wall:- doorway from the 19thC restoration.

East wall:- two 19thC brass memorial plaques.

Nave - General. Carpetted floor throughout, even under the benches. Walls plastered and painted. The roof was raised probably during its rebuilding in 1739 (see below) and corbels on the south side reveal where the roof rested prior to that date: there are six stone corbels in all but it has been suggested that the four to the east pre-date the two western ones; the second corbel from the west has a carved face and is almost certainly a re-used slab, perhaps sepulchral. It should be noted too that there are none of these corbels west of the arcade even though the wall continues. The roof itself is of five bays with collars supported on straight braces and king and raking struts. Four of the trusses rest on wooden corbels on the south wall, though these are of different forms, and on the north wall the trusses run back behind the wall plate though the corbels are still in position. This suggests they are sawn-off tie-beams with thin chamfers. A stone tablet set in the wall records that 'the roofe of the North Ile and the pillars and arches were rebuilt 1739' when Thomas Parry and Thomas Norman were churchwardens.

North wall:- a round-headed doorway, with a segmental head to the splayed reveal. Approached by a rise of five steps. There are eight memorials: a marble memorial of 1744, a stone example from 1798, the commemorative stone of 1739 mentioned above, one 19thC marble and four 19thC and 20thC brasses.

East wall:- two steps up to the chancel. No screen.

South wall:- a six-bay Perpendicular-style arcade, reconstructed in 1739; wide four-centred arches of two orders with chamfered dressings are mounted on octagonal stone piers with moulded octagonal capitals and square bases. The archstones bear Roman numerals, presumably to aid reconstruction, unless of course they are original? The arches towards the east end are in pink and buff sandstone, the most westerly is of 19thC date and is in fine-grained greyish sandstone, but to the same design. The most westerly pillar is in fact a double respond with a short stretch of wall between, and there are responds at the east and west ends. On the wall a stone memorial of 1729, a marble one of 1775 and two 19thC brasses.

West wall:- two windows but otherwise featureless.

Chancel - General. Two steps up from the nave, one to the sanctuary, and one to the altar. The 19thC sanctuary is tiled, some encaustic, and partly carpetted. A new roof was added by Street in 1874-7, and occupies three and two-third bays; four arch-braced collar trusses but the bracing consists of straight braces supported by arch braces beneath; heavily cusped king and raking struts, moulded cornices, and moulded ribs and purlins with timber boarding behind. The panelling, and braces and cusping are 19thC, but the principals are earlier and may well be original. While the trusses are at the same height as the nave, the ceiling in the chancel is lower.

North wall:- a 1914-18 War memorial in the sanctuary, and four 19thC and 20thC brasses set on the wall above the choir stalls.

East wall:- plain with stained glass in the window. Below and against the wall is a radiator.

South wall:- three bays of the arcade mentioned above; one has Arabic numerals inscribed on the stones. In the sanctuary, a credence with a sepulchral slab set in the wall below it.

South aisle - General. Carpetted floor throughout, except near the south porch where there is concrete, and at the extreme west end where a storage area has exposed boards with a tile surround. One step up in line with the nave/chancel divide, and one more into the vestry at the east end. Also at the east end is the organ. Walls plastered and painted. This roof too has been raised: seven stone corbels project into the aisle above the arcade; the three westernmost are older than the eastern four which may have been inserted 19thC to match the others. The roof itself is medieval. It has eight arch-braced collar trusses with cusped struts above, creating eight and a half bays; the trusses spring from wooden corbels above the arcade and from wall plates on the south wall, but are not symmetrical. The bases of the trusses have wooden shields on the south side only; through purlins and rafters. The four easternmost corbels are well fashioned and could be replacements from the 19thC; the most westerly is set higher in the wall than the others though for no obvious reason. At cornice level between the trusses defining the second bay from the west end is a block of wood supported on three corbels; its purpose is uncertain but could it relate to a former gallery?

North wall:- see south wall of nave and chancel. One 19thC stone memorial and another of marble.

East wall:- vestry partition.

South wall:- there are four 19thC marble memorials, an unusual one of 18thC date (last date 1749), and others referring to a vault. Also two brasses on a window sill from 1716 and 1755.

West wall:- two marble memorials from 1733 and 1784, and a third referring to a lifeboat disaster in 1857.

Vestry - General. Established at the east end of the south aisle. A 19thC tiled floor. Partitioned off with panelling.

North wall:- stone memorials of 1777 and 1781 and a safe set in the wall.

East wall:- a stone slab with a coat of arms but no inscription, set into the wall low down. Brasses of 1716 and 1755, and a loose one of 1822 on the window sill. A marble memorial of 1772 is hidden by furniture.

South wall:- stone memorial of 1774 and a marble one of 1762, both hidden by furniture.

Churchyard

Well-kept irregularly shaped churchyard with ground sloping from the north. An extension in the south-east corner was added in 1844 on the evidence of a datestone on the external face of the south wall, and consecrated in 1845. Work in 1973 involved the removal of some head- and kerbstones enclosing older graves. The present cemetery is located across the road from the church.

Boundary:- a stone wall all around the churchyard.

Monuments:- the churchyard has a few marked burials. Gravel paths lined with re-sited gravestones of 18th and 19thC dates on all sides of the church. At the south-east end of the church is a tomb chest, formerly hooded, to Sir Piers Mostyn (d.1605) but with a later slab. There is also a 1706 table tomb with a Latin inscription, and another, also with a Latin inscription from the 1640s, and one or two other late 17thC memorials.

Furniture:- Baluster sandstone sundial with brass plate but minus the gnomon, dated 1762, with the names of John Lloyd, Vicar of Llanasa, and John Morris and Thomas Roberts, Churchwardens. Owen refers to what may have been the cross base, lying beside the churchyard wall in the late 19thC, and also a fragment of a cross which had been found during a restoration of the church. Neither piece of stonework was recognised during current fieldwork.

Ancillary features:- the lychgate was originally constructed in the early 18thC, and there is both sandstone and limestone in the walls. The datestone records 'William Jones, Peter Griffiths, Churchwardens 1735'. A second datestone records its restoration by 'Ed. Sanders, J. Castwright, Wardens 1857', and a third refers to a restoration in 1962. Paired wooden gates, probably 19thC. There is an entrance on the north-east side with a round-headed stone arch with a cross finial of different date above; though undatable this could be pre-19thC. The modern south entrance, opposite the porch has an iron gate with an overarch and, adjacent, a 1976 datestone. Gravel path around the church.

Earthworks:- the churchyard is raised by 0.5m on the south, and on the west with the wall acting as a revetment the drop is over 2m.

Vegetation:- two mature yews against the north wall. Mix of walnuts, 19thC yews and firs. The yew in the south-east corner dates from the 19thC and may have been planted at the time of the 1844 extension.

Sources consulted

Church guide n.d.
CPAT Field Visits: 30 October 1996 and 11 December 1998
CPAT SMR
Crossley and Ridgway 1945, 190
Faculty: St Asaph 1845 (NLW): consecration of addition to churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1873 (NLW): alterations to church
Glynne 1884, 183
Gresham 1968, 143, 158
Hubbard 1986, 382
Neaverson 1953-54, 14
Owen 1886, 92
RCAHMW 1912, 51
Quinquennial Report
Thomas 1911, 196
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 Llanasa 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 ( 22:01:58 ).
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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