Eastern Conwy Churches Survey
Church of St Trillo , Llandrillo-yn-Rhos
Llandrillo-yn-Rhos Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Betws yn Rhos in the county of Conwy. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SH8321280640.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16834 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.
St Trillo's church lies in the centre of the urban sprawl of Llandrillo and Rhos-on-Sea less than one mile from the coast. It is a double-naved structure with a west tower, the north nave the earlier with a blocked 13thC arcade to a former aisle or chapel,
and the south nave and tower both added at a later date; there is however disagreement on the precise sequence and date. Internally the blocked arcade is visible, there is a fine late Perpendicular arcade between the naves, and a fairly simple arch-braced
roof to the south nave. Internal fittings of pre-19thC date are few: an early font and a 14thC sepulchral slab are the only medieval survivals. The churchyard has been enlarged on several occasions, but there may be an original sub-oval enclosure here. It
contains a good range of 18thC and even earlier churchyard memorials and a 17thC lychgate.
North nave earlier than tower. Blocked bays in its north wall indicate an aisle (or conceivably a chapel) now gone, and probably a shorter building than is now present; also claims of a blocked doorway in the centre of the western bay adds to the
complexity. Arcade attributable to the 13thC, and generally considered to have been cut through an existing wall. Subsequently extended eastwards for a join in the north wall.
South nave and chancel added early in the 16thC. Porch of c.1540. Tower of one build and variously claimed to be 15thC and of 1552. However, belfry windows appear to be 16thC and the parapet stage could be either rebuilt or added, perhaps when turret built
In 1939 C.A.Ralegh Radford postulated a more complex sequence. This is recorded in the NMR and for the sake of completeness it is given in abbreviated form here, though it should be noted that it conflicts with the simpler picture above:
i) small church of 12thC with nave and narrower chancel; walling survives on north side of present church.
ii) aisles added, that to south completed, that to north started with insertion of two bays of arcade, but this aisle subsequently abandoned and bays blocked off. Evidence for south aisle provided by abrupt termination of chamfered plinth on west side of
south nave, suggesting a pre-existing wall. Phase ii) attributed to the pre-Edwardian conquest period of the 13thC.
iii) tower added with entrance from nave, and subsequently the south nave. Dated to c.15thC.
iv) On basis of architectural style, present arcade dated to c.1520, and east and south windows inserted.
Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1986 publication The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd by Edward Hubbard
Thomas recorded that the church was anciently known as Dynerth, Dinerth or Dinarth and was the mother church of an extensive district. Certainly with its dedication and location it has the hallmarks of an early medieval foundation, though there is a
tradition, doubted by Tucker, that the original church, founded by Trillo in the 6th century, stood in that part of Dinerth which was overwhelmed by he sea.
In 1137 Prince Griffith ap Cynan bequeathed ten shillings to the church of Dinerth. In the 13thC there was some change: it is possible that an aisle was planned on the north as noted above but it has also been suggested that Ednyfed Fychan built a chapel
on to the existing church, creating the arcade now blocked in the north wall.
The Norwich Taxation, in 1254, corrupted the name into "Ecc'a de Eiuenth", but the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 has "Eccl'ia de Dynerth" at a value of œ23 13s 4d. It was not until 1540 that the name 'Llandrillo' was given to the place.
It has been suggested that at the beginning of the 16th century, the chapel was taken down and the materials used in the construction of the new south nave. A modern brass in the church commemorates this rebuilding in 1518-19 by Sir Hugh Conwy.
In 1540 Hugh Conwy bequeathed fifty shillings for the building of the porch, and the remainder of the five pounds for the building of the chancel, perhaps to be interpreted as a refurbishment?
The tower, said to have been built in the 15thC (Radford) or 1552 (local tradition), was adapted about 1600 to act as a beacon with the addition of a south-west turret, part of a chain of watchtowers which includes those at Abergele and Whitford.
Glynne visited the church in 1850 and apart from commenting on the blocked arcade, he noted a blocked, square-headed window at the west end of the south nave, a plain roof to the north aisle, and a piscina south of the altar.
Restoration in 1857 by H.Kennedy; south nave west window and north nave east window belong to this period. Ralegh Radford, however, though the former was original but renewed. Extent of Kennedy's work not known but it is noticeable that no pre-19thC
Organ chamber added c.1875. Further restoration in 1898.
When the choir vestry was converted from a hearse house and a new doorway constructed through the more westerly of the two blocked arches of the arcade sealed in the north wall, a doorway with limestone dressings was uncovered, the jambs and archstones in
the thickness of the wall; its threshold was 18" below the level of the nave where a cobbled floor was encountered. No trace of a rear arch was recorded. Doorway re-set to give access to choir vestry, but its place in the building sequence is unclear.
Llandrillo is a double-naved church, that on the north narrower than its southern counterpart; a porch near the south-west angle and a west tower. A choir vestry, organ chamber and store were added to the north side during the 19thC.
The building is oriented west-south-west/east-north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here. Conventional directions are used for the churchyard.
Fabrics: 'A' consists of limestone blocks, some blocks of pink sandstone and a few lumps of dark grey shale including pebble stones. Much of the masonry is small to medium in size, there is some coursing, and thin slabs are used to level up the wall in
places on the north side. Limestone is used more frequently towards the base.
'B' is as 'A' but there are rather more long slabs of shale. Some re-use of material is demonstrated by the inclusion of a couple of carved fragments.
'C' is of medium-sized and quite regular limestone blocks showing some coursing and occasional sandstone and shale lumps. Dressed limestone used for quoins.
Roof: slates and grey clay or slate ridge tiles; stone cross finials at the east ends of both naves.
Drainage: concrete lined drain along the south side and some of north side; a tarmac strip against the east side of the north nave may cover a drain but there is nothing along the south nave. Nothing around the tower.
Tower. General. Battered base at height of c.1m; tapering sides; moulded string course with waterspouts on north and south faces; battlemented parapet with stepped merlons and a south-west turret. In 'C' but parapet stage has more shale slabs in it, and
could be an addition. Turret is also later, having been added in c.1600.
North wall: modern rectangular window cut through batter just above ground level. Belfry window has two round-headed louvred lights with chamfered limestone dressings, except for one block of pink sandstone; whole window renewed.
East wall: belfry window has replaced mullion and the heads to the lights are ogee-shaped; thus all modern except for the limestone jambs. Wall rebuilt possibly from higher part of the window upwards.
South wall: small, round-headed slit window in the batter, but now blocked. At just under half way up the wall are two slit openings, one above the other, lighting the tower stair. Belfry window has round-headed lights, sunken spandrels and a slightly
hollowed chamfer: the whole looks original.
West wall: at and below ground level is a modern door approached by a downflight of steps presumably gives access to a boiler room beneath tower. At a height of 2m+ two blocked slit windows, one in the centre of the wall, the other for the tower stair.
About half way up the wall face another slit is glazed and has an ogee head: it does not look original. Above a square-headed belfry window as on the south side, all in limestone and probably original. South of it another slit window to the stair.
North Nave and Chancel. General. In 'A' where visible.
North wall: juncture of tower and nave clearly visible with the former's wall face inset slightly and abutting nave. Nave quoins consist of ordinary masonry. Next is the choir vestry and this is built out from the first of two bays of a 13thC arcade sealed
in the wall. Parts, but not all, of this bay are visible: an apparently square pier in pink sandstone and a square capital with a chamfer on its underside in similar stone; the two-centred arch turned in a mixture of thinnish slabs of grey shale and pink
sandstone, visible only where it is clear of the vestry roof. Next is the second arch sharing the pier already mentioned; some of the dressed stone of the pier has gone on this side but the arch is largely intact. Pier on the east side of this arch is
largely hidden by a modern storeroom. Beyond this the wall face is hidden by the extension of the organ chamber and the remainder of the north wall as far as the north-east angle is plain.
East wall: covered in roughcast render. Base of wall may have a projecting foundation course at ground level, but not enough is visible to be certain. It contains a Victorian window with a two-centred arch, three cusped lights with transom and panels
above, and a hoodmould with dogs-leg stops; constructed from pale brown freestone, weathering to grey.
No south and west walls.
South Nave and Chancel. General. Where visible in 'B'. Chamfered plinth along east and south walls and part of north.
East wall: wall face has roughcast render. Projecting plinth at base, maximum height of 0.3m and consisting of stone blocks with no chamfer; however because of slope of ground it is not clear whether this runs the full length of wall. Above this at a
maximum height of 1m is a second plinth, this with a chamfered top of limestone blocks. The main east window has a four-centred arch, five cusped lights, virtually round-headed except for the central one which sports an ogee head, single-light sub-arches
and panels above and a hollowed hoodmould terminating in block stops, each with a small head in relief. These look original as do the jambs but not the tracery. Freestone is mustard yellow in colour weathering to grey. Between the two gables at the head of
the valley the spout for the downpipe is a head of Celtic type in pink sandstone: origin unknown and its authenticity remains to be established.
South wall: largely covered by remnant render and beneath the chancel window roughcast render masks the masonry. Features from east are: i) chancel window with four-centred arch, three lights, the central one round-headed the others two-centred; hoodmould
with ornamental stops; ii) a blocked priest's door with a two-centred arch, chamfered jambs finishing in pyramidal stops, and all in pink sandstone with sharp arrises and an unweathered appearance; the blocking is certainly modern; iii) a second window to
the same design constructed from a variety of different coloured freestones, probably indicating some renewal though it is difficult to distinguish which; iv) two small decorated fragments of stone reused in the masonry high up on wall face; v) porch and
remainder of wall from apex of porch roof covered in roughcast render.
West wall: covered in roughcast render; chamfered plinth stops abruptly beneath window but for no obvious reason. Window in wall has four-centred arch, three lights, cusped with round heads, a transom, and a hoodmould with ornamental stops similar to those
on the south windows; the whole is Victorian.
Porch. General. Wall shave extensive remnant roughcast render. Masonry is similar in appearance to 'A' but dressed limestone for quoins.
East wall: rough plinth at height of 0.5m. Masonry mainly in limestone. No features.
South wall: archway has two-centred arch turned in limestone, no chamfer. Lamp above.
West wall: roughcast render. Plain.
Vestry. General. Covered in roughcast render.
Porch. General. Flagged floor; plastered and painted walls; roof of two bays with two visible arch-braced collar trusses, chamfered, and plain purlins.
North wall: doorway in dressed limestone, is round-headed with hollow moulding outside chamfer and pyramid stops. Victorian?
East wall: wall inset at height of c.0.9m to form ledge. Notice boards.
South wall: wood and wire doors into porch.
West wall: as east wall but in south-west angle is 14thC sepulchral slab.
Tower. General. Wooden floor; plastered and painted walls; flat wooden ceiling.
North wall: modern splayed window.
East wall: small two-centred arch, unembellished and without chamfered dressings.
South wall: two-centred limestone doorway to tower stair, but disguised on its north face but a wooden veneer. Behind it a small compartment two steps up from floor of tower.
West wall: plain.
North Nave (Aisle). General. Stone flag floor but with graveslabs of 17thC and 18thC date used towards east end. Large heating vent at west end. Walls plastered and painted, except for dressings of doorway, early piers etc. Roof of close-set scissor
trusses and collars, the rafters resting on the wall plate on the north and on stone corbels above the arcade. Victorian roof. North nave is narrower than its southern counterpart. It contains additional seating raised on wooden boarding and towards the
east end the organ in its own chamber. At the east end are further, modern benches set at right-angles to the altar and raised on a wooden plinth.
North wall: both of the early arcade bays are defined by slightly sunken areas of the wall face, and the piers and their capitals are also revealed, the central one completely devoid of plaster: pale sandstone dressings with the angles chamfered. The outer
piers only partly revealed and the more easterly capital replaced in modern stone. Set in the more westerly bay is a Victorian two-centred archway in dressed limestone giving access to the vestry (though this disguises an earlier, re-used arch). East of
the second blocked bay is a slight disconformity in the wall face, perhaps evidence of some rebuilding. Otherwise 19thC and 20thC brass, stone and wooden memorial plaques on wall. Three-quarters of way along wall to east is a further Victorian two-centred
archway opening onto the organ chamber; the arch is turned in dressed freestone rather than limestone. Beside this and to the east is a slightly splayed alcove with a flat head; dressings are chamfered but with a number of simple stops; not apparently of
any great age, though in 1850 Glynne noted a recess towards the east end of the north nave which he thought might be a former doorway.
East wall: splayed window with Victorian dressings.
South wall: four-bay arcade, four-centred arches, moulded capitals, octagonal piers all in pale pink sandstone. In south-west angle at the level of the arch apices is a triangular wedge of masonry forming a ledge; its purpose is unknown but it was perhaps
a support for a gallery?
West wall: devoid of features except for splayed rectangular embrasure which narrows to the two-centred tower doorway at its far end.
South Nave and Chancel. General. Flag floor with one 17thC graveslab partly hidden beneath the pulpit; benches raised on wooden boarding. Walls as north nave. Roof of four bays, one narrower than the others. Principal trusses have arch-braced collars
springing from quasi-hammerbeam wallposts on stone corbels, alternating with arch-braced collars rising from wall plates; two tiers of angular windbraces. 16thC. Wagon ceiling in the east half of end bay.
North wall: arcade as north nave but over the three piers are painted stone angels clasping books. These do not correspond with the existing roof and it has been suggested that these angel corbels indicate an intention to erect a more elaborate roof than
the present one.
East wall: splayed window with stone reredos beneath.
South wall: splayed windows, the dressings and tracery left unpainted. Priest's door has peaked embrasure, the blocking inset to create an alcove. Splayed and peaked embrasure for main doorway into church. One 19thC brass and another (modern) that
commemorates the rebuilding of south aisle; one 19thC marble memorial over the door.
West wall: splayed window with Victorian dressings; some changes in wall face may relate to its predecessor.
Llandrillo churchyard is now a large rhomboidal enclosure with the church set on a limestone knoll at its centre; to this has been added a similar sized extension on its west side. Possible evidence within the main enclosure of a smaller sub-oval enclosure
with the church near its eastern corner, and with steep slopes down to newer parts of churchyard on the north and east, which contained houses on an 18thC estate map. On faculty evidence churchyard extensions in 1923 and 1940.
The old churchyard is still used for burial and is well maintained.
Boundary: on the north is a stone wall at the base of the slope and this continues on east, in part acting as a retaining wall with iron railings above it. A retaining wall, too, on the south which is necessary because of internal banking. On the west the
old yard has a straight revetment wall above the extension.
Monuments: there is little room on the north for any burials, while elsewhere the graves are regimented and well-packed, the exception being at the base of the eastern slope where the memorials are more spread. Immediately east of the chancel are ledgers
of 1658,?1666, 1692 and others that are ivy-covered; at the base of the eastern slope, chest tombs of 1761 and 1789; and on the south side in the vicinity of the lychgate a whole range of 18thC monuments with the earliest from the last decade of the 17thC.
Under a 1996 faculty, a group of seven or eight 18thC chest tombs - the Ellis tomb and others - near the lychgate were repaired.
Furniture: south of the church is a sundial with gnomon, 'the gift of Mrs Mary James of Dinerth' and a maker's inscription, which could not be deciphered; it is reported to refer to William Wench of Chester and dated to 1755. Set on a circular column
bearing the initials and date 'THOW 1756', with a three-tiered base beneath.
Earthworks: natural scarp slopes on east and north, and around the west and south the ground falls but this may be largely natural, though the curve on the south-east is suggestive.
Ancillary features: on south side, a limestone lychgate dated to 1677 with almost round-headed arches, stone benches against the walls, and iron ties and a buttress (on the west) for stabilisation. It was restored in 1907. Double wooden gates at
south-east. Tarmac paths.
Vegetation: five mature yews on east and south-east; numbers of fairly small yews near south and south-west sides.
Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings: Rhos on Sea community, 1994
CPAT Field Visit: 14 March 1997
Faculty: St Asaph 1923 (NLW)
Faculty: St Asaph 1940 (NLW)
Glynne 1884, 252
Gresham 1968, 109
Hubbard 1986, 193
Letter 1938: St Asaph Faculty Box (NLW)
Quinquennial Review: 1988
Ridgway 1997, 123
Thomas 1913, 210
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 Llandrillo-yn-Rhos 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 ( 22:01:15 ).
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org, website - www.cpat.org.uk.
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