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Eastern Conwy Churches Survey

Church of St Sannan , Llansannan

Llansannan Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llansannan in the county of Conwy. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SH9340865902.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16885 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llansannan Church, CPAT copyright photo Llansannan 01

Summary

St Sannan's church lies at the centre of the small village of Llansannan, seven and a half miles south of Abergele. It is a double naved structure but the nature of the masonry and the heavy pointing preclude a clear impression of whether there are structural changes, other than those resulting from the insertion of Victorian windows, and the shell of the building could be medieval or even date from the late 18thC restoration. Certainly no medieval architectural features have survived the 18thC and 19thC restorations. Internally there is nothing medieval, while the post-medieval furnishings and fittings are unexceptional. The churchyard is small, veering towards curvilinearity, but contains few memorials that are obviously pre-19thC.

It is uncertain whether the structure was wholly rebuilt in the later part of the 18thC, or just modified. The lower wall faces could be 18thC or earlier. One south window is in 18thC style though in Victorian stonework, while dressings from another 18thC window used for packing around a Victorian successor. Otherwise the fenestration is wholly Victorian.

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

History

The location, dedication and the churchyard morphology point to an early medieval origin. Needless to say there is no supporting documentary evidence. The church is said to have been founded by an Irish saint, Sannan, a contemporary of St David.

It is first referred to in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Ecc'a de Llannssannan' at a value of 4, appearing in Pope Nicholas's Taxatio as 'Ecclesia de Llansaman'.

The roodloft was still in position in 1682. There is a report that the building was in a dilapidated state in 1731 and it was either rebuilt or remodelled in 1777-8, the arcade with fluted timber piers.

Glynne visited the church in 1869 and noted that the windows were plain, poor and had rounded heads, there was a doorway at the west end with an obtuse arch which he thought might be original, and a west gallery.

Restored in 1879, possibly by R. Lloyd Williams. The west bellcote, timber porch, windows, boarded ceilings, and timber arcade posts all of this date. Gallery and stairs removed, west door replaced with a new window, old porch taken down, and underground heating installed.

Architecture

Llansannan church consists of a double nave and chancel, a west bellcote between the two nave gables, and a south porch about halfway along the south side of the nave.

The church is oriented south-west/north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here; the churchyard is described in conventional terms.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises small to medium slabs, with a few blocks, of grey and grey-brown shale, some laminated; quoins of larger blocks of dressed shale and limestone; limewash residue. 'B' is mixed masonry with small lumps of shale, pink sandstone frequently dressed, and dressed, grey limestone blocks.

Roof: slates, plain red ridge tiles; no finials. Bellcote with single opening, of dressed stone.

Drainage: visible gully on west, 0.4m wide & 0.5m deep. Around the rest of the church indications of an infilled gully.

Exterior

North Nave and Chancel. General. Described as a single cell because no external differentiation. Heavy pointing almost a render coat in places. Note that here and in south nave, all the windows in the end walls are eccentrically placed because of roof design.

North wall: 'A' up to roof level except around windows where 'B', particularly at higher levels where clearly used as packing. Lower down the windows the packing appears to be achieved with limestone blocks which can project for keying into 'A'. Three windows all in buff-yellow freestone, all to the same pattern; two lancet lights, roundel above, the dressings chamfered but no window arch over.

East wall: at very base of wall is a protruding foundation course, partially hidden by vegetation. Is this an earlier feature? Heavy render disguises masonry which is largely 'A', although some sandstone blocks, apparently added randomly. East window has two-centred arch, three lights, the outer ones trefoiled tracery, the central one having an ogee head with cusped tracery, hexafoil lights above and a quatrefoil above that, but all Victorian in the standard fabric of the north wall windows. Acting as a relieving arch are blocks of pink sandstone, immediately above the window arch.

West wall: in 'A' but for a couple of lumps of pink sandstone; heavily pointed but some indication that window inserted. Window has three lights, trefoiled lancets with a hexafoil light above; standard buff-yellow sandstone.

South Nave and Chancel. General. Usual heavy pointing and also some ivy cover. All 'A'.

East wall: one piece of sandstone visible in 'A'. Window with two-centred arch, three trefoiled lights and cusped lights above; in yellow sandstone with pink sandstone relieving arch as north nave window (see above).

South wall: masonry is 'A' but some packing around windows in 'B', and upper part of wall with re-used sandstone also classed as 'B'. From east: i) standard two-light window as on north side, but with much packing in pink sandstone around it; some of the packing stones have grooves on, reminiscent of 18thC window dressings elsewhere; ii) round-headed window but in standard Victorian stonework and with usual 'B' packing; iii) porch; iv) another standard two-light window with 'B' packing.

West wall: single window conforming to standard pattern as seen in north nave; packing in 'B' around.

Porch. General. Low foundation walls in 'A'-type masonry capped with chamfered freestone dressings; open wooden superstructure with two-centred arches for windows and door. Also an open timberwork gable incorporating a timber cross. The whole is 19thC.

Interior

Porch. General. Slate slab floor, stone and timber walls, simple wooden roof. On the floor a limestone coping stone of relatively recent date.

North wall: Victorian doorway with a two-centred arch, all in buff sandstone - inserted.

North Nave. General. Floor of red and black tiles but at the west end slate slabs include several 18thC graveslabs (1721, 1750, 1752, 1808); benches raised on wooden boarding; carpet down aisle. Roof of seven bays (including east chapel) divided by brattished tie-beams on braces with, over, a wagon roof of 56 panels, all Victorian.

North wall: three splayed windows. Three marble memorials including one of 1773 plus several 19thC metal plaques.

East wall: step up.

South wall: arcade of six bays.

West wall: splayed window.

North Chapel. General. One step up from north nave, in line with most westerly pier of arcade. Carpet on wooden floor, with altar against east wall. Walls and roof as north nave.

North wall: slate mural slab of 1796.

East wall: splayed window; four 17thC and 18thC wall memorials, two of later date, and a Benefaction board.

South wall: one bay of arcade.

Nave. General. Floored in red and black tiles with slate slabs beneath font, and carpet along the aisle; no signs of heating ducts; benches raised on wooden boarding. Walls as north aisle, with radiators and pipes providing heating. Roof comparable with north aisle. West end partitioned off for a raised vestry, and a modern inner porch within nave.

North wall: arcade for which see north aisle.

East wall: steps up from nave to chancel.

South wall: splayed windows; two 19thC and 20thC memorials.

West wall: splayed window only.

Chancel. General. Two steps up to chancel, one to sanctuary, tiled floors with carpets, raised choir stalls. Walls as nave. Roof as nave and north aisle but panels sub-divided.

North wall: arcade.

East wall: splayed window with Commandment boards to either side.

South wall: splayed window; three 19thC and 20thC marble memorials.

Churchyard

Llansannan churchyard is set on the western edge of the Aled valley; it is small, curvilinear in parts, fairly level though there is a faint slope from north-west to south-east, and the church is located in its northern half. It is generally well-maintained though there is some overgrowth to the north of the building. A cemetery has been established on the opposite side of the road to the west.

Boundary: a mortared stone wall on the west, buildings on the south and a retaining wall on the east and north.

Monuments: most of the churchyard is utilised but the stones are not densely packed and the south-west sector is relatively clear. Some monuments are flaking badly, others have been cleared and act as coping stones for the wall. Some ledgers are grass covered and most appear to be 19thC though the earliest seen was of 1779.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: internally an undulating surface but of little obvious significance. Churchyard is raised on the south (1-1.5m), the east (2m) and the north (1.5m), but some of this is a function of the topography. On the west virtually no ground level difference though there is a small build up of material behind the wall.

Ancillary features: stone lychgate with simple timber roof and modern wooden gates, and tarmac path to porch. On the west an ornate iron gate with a grass path leading from it.

Vegetation: mature but not ancient yews along western and eastern perimeters; a few yew bushes beside path to porch.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit 15 October 1996
Crossley 1946, 39
Faculty: St Asaph 1876 (NLW)
Glynne 1884, 102
Hubbard 1986, 240
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872 pl 9
Thomas 1911, 52
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 Llansannan 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 ( 22:01:21 ).
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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