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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Cyffylliog

Cyffylliog Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Cyffylliog in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ0589757833.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16640 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Cyffylliog Church, CPAT copyright photo 509-16.JPG


St Mary's church lies above the village of Cyffylliog (frequently Gyffyliog) in the hills about 3 miles to the west of Ruthin. It is a simple structure with an undifferentiated nave and chancel, and little of architectural distinction, apart from an east window with Decorated tracery, and others which though now totally renewed may have originated in the late 13thC-14thC. The font and re-used fragments of the rood screen are all that survive from the medieval era. The churchyard is small and rectangular with a fairly typical range of gravestones and slabs from the earlier part of the 18thC onwards.

A simple cell for which no phasing can be distinguished because of the coarseness of the masonry. With the possible exception of that in the east wall all the windows have been renewed or replaced. The east window is of the Decorated period in its original design, and Hubbard saw hints of the Decorated style in a couple of the south windows. The south door and porch were destroyed at the time of the restoration. Now a west porch of early 20thC date.

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


Cyffylliog is said to have been built by Griffith Goch of Bachymbyd and Pentre Coch near Ruthin at the end of the 12thC. It was a chapel of ease to Llanynys until 1873.

Prior to the 17thC there was a wooden belfry with a heavy timber frame, but a plain stone gable was substituted for this.

In 1856 the chancel was raised and re-flagged.

The church was almost completely rebuilt in 1876 by A. Baker, and during its restoration it lost its south doorway and porch, and all its old windows and roofs. The west gallery, fronted with the eastern parapet of the former rood loft, was thrown out and the screen destroyed. An anonymous report in Archaeologia Cambrensis noted that two layers of wall paintings were uncovered, separated by a layer of plaster on both the north and south walls, and there were vague references to figures. However, because the building was unroofed, rain led to the collapse of the plaster.

Further works in 1904 included the addition of the easternmost north window and the west porch with its vestries, and the restoration of the font.


Cyffylliog church comprises a single chamber with a bellcote over the west end and a porch added to the west end. There is also a lean-to at the north-west corner. The church is oriented south-west to north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here. The churchyard is described in conventional terms.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of small to large-medium blocks of fine-grained sedimentary rock, grey in colour; some blocks are rounded; smaller stones in the interstices; random coursing; small flecks of limewash residue. 'B' is of regular blocks of limestone but randomly coursed.

Roof: slates with simple grey clay roof tiles; broken stone finial at end of chancel. Bellcote with single aperture at west end, of dressed limestone and red sandstone with pitched roof, dated 1874.

Drainage: drainage trenches up to 0.5m wide and filled with stone chips on north and south but not east or west.


Nave and Chancel. General. No external differentiation. Fabric 'A' and heavy pointing.

North wall: crude walling with numerous rounded stones; so rough that it is impossible to determine whether windows are inserted or contemporary. Wall foundations protrude in drainage trench but presumed to be of same build as wall face, and north-east corner underpinned by two larger blocks. Quoins at this corner in weathered sandstone, except for those at top and at bottom which have been replaced; those at north-west angle are also more recent. At north-west angle a lean-to in breeze blocks.

Three windows, all of different design but all in mustard yellow sandstone of Victorian date. From west: i) two lights with cusped ogee heads; ii) three lights with cusped four-centred heads, and panels above, all under a segmental arch; iii) (in chancel), a two-centred arch, with two cusped two-centred lights, with a panel above.

East wall: minor differences in the fabric to the north wall but nothing of obvious significance. All quoins at south-east angle are replaced, and conceivable that some of this wall rebuilt. East window all in red sandstone, three cusped lights with intersecting tracery; jambs and arch weathered, but mullions replaced, tracery possibly so, essentially a Decorated feature, but it is unclear how much survives from the 14thC..

South wall: impossible to determine how much rebuilding: certainly both angles, perhaps around the most westerly window where there are signs of masonry change, and there is no sign of the south doorway that existed in the 19thC. From west: i) window as most westerly window on north side; ii) as i) but in red sandstone; little weathering and not original; may have had a grille across it for small sockets in west jamb and mullion; iii) as opposite window on north side but in red sandstone; unweathered and not original.

West wall: largely hidden by porch, and the rest is plastered and painted. There is a report of an earlier feature here as a roof line is visible on the west face of the church within the roof space of the porch.

Porch. General. All in 'B' with mustard-yellow freestone for windows and two-centred arched doorway. Victorian build.


Porch. General. Of Victorian date. A through passage with rooms on both sides, one a vestry.

Nave. General. Carpet over tiles, and wooden boards under benches. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of nine bays has braced collars.

North wall: two splayed windows; two 19thC marble mural tablets.

South wall: two splayed windows; three mural tablets, one of 1752, another of 1756.

West wall: wall is plain; the doorway has segmental head to its reveal.

Chancel. General. Two steps up to chancel, two to sanctuary. Floor of encaustic tiles. Choir stalls raised on wooden boarding. Walls as nave. Roof has a Perpendicular wagon ceiling, boarded and ribbed, with the main members including the purlins traceried and with mask corbels and vine trail at the cornice; at entrance to chancel is a hammerbeam truss with angels of mid-19thC date,

North wall: splayed window; one late 19thC marble mural tablet.

East wall: splayed window, the embrasure in its present form is 19thC.

South wall: splayed window.


Cyffylliog has a small rectilinear churchyard set on the edge of the river terrace above Afon Clywedog. The churchyard itself is relatively level, but beyond the ground rises almost immediately to the west. There is a modern extension to the north-west, although the original boundary on this side is still in place; it is well maintained and it is the extension that is currently used for burials.

Boundary: on the south-west is a mortared stone wall, with some embanking inside which may in part reflect an earlier perimeter. Wall continues on south-east, on north-east where it acts as a retaining wall, and on the north-west.

Monuments: these are well packed on the north-west where predominantly 19thC. An even spread if less dense on south-east and north-east where there are some 18thC gravestones. Earliest near the lychgate, of 1728 and 1740.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: churchyard is raised on north-east by nearly 1.5m and on north-west by about 0.5m, but on south-east little difference internally and externally.

Ancillary features: stone lychgate on south with simple wooden roof and two wooden gates; near the western angle are small, double wrought iron gates, and there is also a gap in the north-west wall giving access to the new burial yard. Tarmac paths. Near the lychgate is a stone-built hearse house now used for storage, carrying an inscription which indicates it was given by Edward Owen in 1823.

Vegetation: five quite massive yews, all but one on the perimeter.

Sources consulted

Anon 1876
CPAT Field Visit: 20 August 1996
Crossley 1946, 3 & 23
DRO/PD/37/1/50 1902 rough sketch plan of church
Faculty 1903: NLW - vestry
Hubbard 1986, 142
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872, pl 20
Quinquennial Review 1987
Ridgway 1997, 92
Thomas 1911, 77
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 Cyffylliog Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.

The CPAT Denbighshire 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 ( 22:01:26 ).
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 -, website -

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