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Eastern Conwy Churches Survey

Church of St Mary Magdalene , Cerrigydrudion

Cerrigydrudion Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Cerrigydrudion in the county of Conwy. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SH9532248740.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16744 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Cerrigydrudion Church, CPAT copyright photo Cerrigydrudion 01

Summary

The church of St Mary Magdalen lies at the heart of the small village of Cerrigydrudion, some nine miles to the north-west of Corwen. Some of the surviving masonry may be of 16thC date and a foundation course from an earlier, possibly medieval structure, is apparent, together with a re-used 14thC window. Otherwise the windows are of 19thC date, and considerable restoration must have occurred in 1874. Inside the roof is late medieval, perhaps of 1503, and there is a limited range of fittings: a chest of 1730, a few wall memorials and a benefaction board of 1737. The churchyard is small and polygonal with only the slightest hint of curvilinerarity. Memorials are mostly late in date.

The foundation of an earlier building - a nave and perhaps a porch - visible at west end on a fractionally different alignment to the present building: this cannot be dated with any certainty. It is possible too that there is medieval masonry within the core of the building although there is nothing to prove this assertion. A quoin stone with a date of 1657 seems to commemorate a rector rather than a rebuilding. Thomas thought the eastern end of the building including the south transept was of 1503, while Glynne thought it 17thC. As features seen by Thomas are not now visible it is probable that much of east end was rebuilt in 1874; yet the slit windows on the north and south sides must belong to this structure and as Hubbard pointed out, are unlikely to have any association with the rood screen. The (?)14thC window in the vestry is likely to have come from the 1874 restoration of the nave and chancel. To complicate matters the Victorian refenestration appears to be of two phases, represented by different materials for the dressings and of different designs. One of these phases correlates with the rebuilding or more likely the western extension of the nave. Victorian reconstruction of the chancel gable is also evidenced.

Thomas refers to a break in the wall between the [old] nave and chancel, and, internally, the ground beam of the rood screen; also externally a door on the north side and a second commemorative stone to Gabriel Hughes, dated 1639. These features were not observed by the writer, and may have disappeared when the vestry was added.

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

History

The date of origin of this small church is not known. Other than its location there is nothing to signal an early medieval beginning, except for the occurrence of an early note in the parish register claiming its foundation by Evan ap Llewelyn in 440 AD.

Thomas notes that it was previously called 'Llanfair Faellen' and points out that this can hardly be the Welsh equivalent of Mary Magdalen, though its real meaning is obscure.

The 1254 Taxatio records 'Ecc'a de Kericdrudion' at a value of 3s while in the later taxatio of Pope Nicholas (1291) it appears as 'Ecc'lia de Kerrye Edrudion' at 1 6s 8d.

There is a record of repair and enlargement in 1503, which would accord with the late medieval roof in the nave, and may have resulted in the enlargement of the chancel and perhaps the addition of the chapel on the south.

The exterior was whitewashed when seen by Glynne in 1865; he recorded the crucifix high up in the east gable, and also a pointed doorway in the north wall.

In 1872 Lloyd Williams and Underwood depicted the south transept with a round-headed east window and a gable roof parallel to that of the nave. This was presumably remodelled in the restoration of 1874, the scale of which is difficult to ascertain, though it appears to have included the rebuilding of the east gable, the re-roofing of the structure, the removal of the gallery, and re-seating throughout. Possibly at this time but more likely at a later date the furnishings mentioned by Thomas - a desk dated to 1684, and the altar table of 1755 - were replaced. There also appear to have been wall paintings whitewashed over. An earlier octagonal font had been removed and was used as water trough beside the A5 at Pont y Glyn (?a few miles to the east).

Architecture

Cerrigydrudion church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a south 'transept' (also referred to, and probably more accurately, as the Giler Chapel) at the extreme east end, a south porch and a north vestry. It is oriented almost east to west.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises medium to very large blocks and slabs of grey shale with some quartz, and some grey stone that could be limestone; irregular coursing. Very occasional fragments of limewash. 'B' is of large, regular blocks of grey shale, coursed.

Roof: slates; toothed, red clay, ridge tiles; double bellcote at west end surmounted by a stone Celtic cross.

Drainage: on the south side of nave and the west side of the transept is a trench, 1m wide and 0.3m, with a gravel base and edged with 19thC gravestones; a concrete gully runs around the east and north side. There is nothing obvious on the west side.

Exterior

Nave and Chancel. General. No external differentiation between the two elements.

North wall: east of vestry are two triple lancet windows, the lancets foiled and in sandstone; between them a small chamfered slit window and one jamb stone has what could be 'M' pecked on it. No obvious packing around window. West of vestry is another window with three lancet lights, but this has limestone dressings comparable with windows in south wall. Beneath it a protruding foundation course for a length of no more than 1m after it emerges from beneath vestry. From the window to the north-west corner, the masonry is 'B'. At north-east angle of church is a quoin stone inscribed with: 'ROBERTVS WYNNE HVIVS PAROCHIAE RECTOR 1657'.

East wall: lower part of wall in 'A' though stones not so massive as elsewhere; upper part of gable together with packing around window in 'B'. Window of three foiled lancets in yellow sandstone. Set high up near the apex of the gable is a shallow niche with a cusped arch over; a painted figure of Christ on the cross occupies the niche; age uncertain, but Owen thought it 15thC.

South wall: in 'A'. Two triple lancets, the dressings in limestone; between them a slit window without chamfered dressings. From the east side of the porch, projecting earlier foundations 0.2m or so below ground level, but exposed in drain, gradually converge with line of the wall, disappearing beneath the slit window. West of porch is another triple lancet window in limestone, again with a projecting foundation course beneath it which runs a little further west than its counterpart on the north. West of this window the masonry is 'B'.

West wall: in 'B', slightly battered, and with some projecting base stones those these not part of an earlier structure. High up on wall a corbel table supporting the bellcote which is also in 'B'.

Porch. General. In 'A'-type masonry.

East wall: plain but for a small rectangular window.

South wall: doorway has a deep external reveal, jambs with incipient chamfers and a large lintel which is peaked. Above it a sundial without a gnomon, and much of the inscription flaked off.

West wall: plain. Protruding earlier foundation extending for more than one metre from nave wall.

South Transept. General. In 'A'.

East wall: plain, though incised lines and?letters on one slab at height of c.0.5m off ground. Wall appears to be continuous with east wall of chancel.

South wall: one triple lancet window in limestone. Upper part of wall rebuilt.

West wall: plain.

Vestry. General. In 'A'-type masonry that is probably re-used. Chimney rises above wall between nave and vestry.

North wall: round-headed door. Also a double-light window, the lights with ogee heads and cusped tracery with a small cusped panel (containing medieval glass) and sunken spandrels above; however, the window frame chopped off just above the main lights in order to fit it into the wall. Some of jamb stones in pink sandstone, and ogee heads in olive sandstone could be medieval, though obviously re-used in the vestry.

East wall: plain.

West wall: modern doorway with concrete lintel.

Interior

Porch. General. Slab floor, some re-use of graveslabs including one massive early 19thC example. Plain walls, plastered and painted. Roof of close-set scissor trusses.

North wall: simple doorway with chamfered two-centred arch, painted and relatively modern.

East wall: small, rectangular splayed window; stone bench only.

South wall: nothing of note.

West wall: as east wall, but no window.

Nave. General. Black and red tiled floor with carpet over much of it. Benches on either side of aisle and benches at rear together with organ all raised on wooden plinths. Walls plastered and painted. Heating pipes channelled around walls and beside benches. Roof of seven bays with late medieval arch-braced trusses rising from wall plates. All but the most easterly truss have cusped railing struts and rafters giving angular trefoils and a quatrefoil in each case; the last truss is plain.

North wall: three splayed windows, all with painted dressings and reveals. Several 19thC and 20thC brasses, and over the pulpit at east end a marble memorial of 1711. Adjacent to the vestry door a marble stoup.

East wall: one step up to chancel.

South wall: four splayed windows but only the small rectangular light has painted dressings. Wall has benefaction board of 1737, a?19thC painting, and a couple of modern armorial plaques.

West wall: plain but for ogee-headed recess to take bell pulls.

Chancel. General. Chancel raised by one step, sanctuary by two small steps. Floors have encaustic tiles and carpet. Walls as nave. Roof of two bays, with arch-braced collars and plain raking struts. Chancel arch truss distinguished by its angular wooden corbels; the roof between the trusses panelled over in wood.

North wall: one splayed window, the dressings painted. One marble memorial tablet of 1739.

East wall: large splayed window.

South wall: one painting.

West wall: not present.

South Transept. General. Floor carpeted. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of purlins and close-set rafters. Generally referred to, though for reasons not explained, as the 'Giler Chapel'.

North wall: not present.

East wall: alcove, perhaps a blocked window, but though a chamfered reveal, no sign of dressings. Now houses a cross with altar beneath.

South wall: splayed window, painted. One 17thC graveslab.

West wall: Marble memorial of 1723 and graveslab pinned to the wall of 1664.

Vestry. General. Nothing of interest apart from north window which contains fragment of stained glass of probable late medieval date.

Churchyard

The polygonal churchyard is small, well-kept and was extended by the addition in 1883 of a plot of ground of similar size on its north-west side. It displays a slight slope from east to west. It is situated on the northern edge of the valley of Afon Nug, the ground falling away to south and west, and with the village 'square' immediately to the east, occupies the centre of the small village.

Boundary: consists of a mortared stone wall which on the east has a distinctive basal batter externally.

Monuments: the whole yard is utilised and there is a reasonably even spread with some more dense groups. Evidence of some clearance with slabs and stones used to edge drains, and others propped against the east wall. There are a couple of railed plots of 19thC date, and on the north some obelisks of similar date. Against the east wall is a slab of 1723, but most of the surviving stones are 19thC at earliest.

Furniture: nothing.

Earthworks: the interior is raised by nearly 2m on the east, south and south-west and around 1m on the north-west.

Ancillary features: double iron gates on east side, painted and ornamented, with a lamp on an arch over the top and approached by a flight of four steps. Tarmac path. Dilapidated store shed on north-east and parish hall protrudes into yard on north.

Vegetation: two yews at entrance and three others elsewhere on perimeter, none of any great age. A few deciduous trees on the north side.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 21 January 1997
Crossley 1946, 10
DRO/PD/18/1/30 1963 Plans relating to heating
Faculty: St Asaph 1873 (NLW)
Faculty: St Asaph 1883 (NLW)
Glynne 1884, 249
Hubbard 1986, 120
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872 pl 21
Owen 1886, 5
Quinquennial Report 1989
Ridgway 1997, 55
Thomas 1911, 139
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 Cerrigydrudion Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.


The CPAT Eastern Conwy 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 ( 22:01:13 ).
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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