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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael , Efenechtyd

Efenechtyd Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Efenechtyd in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1115555778.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16774 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Efenechtyd Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0143.JPG

Summary

Of simple plan, the small church of St Michael lies just above the floor of a valley some 2km to the south of Ruthin. The only external feature of architectural distinction to survive the Victorian restoration is a Decorated east window, but sufficient has survived of the shell of the building suggest at least two phases, the earliest of which might be 13thC. Inside there is an unusual late medieval roof, a wooden font, a stone stoup and remnants of the screen. Post-medieval fittings include a 17thC pulpit, a wall-painting in Welsh and several wall memorials, one in wood. The churchyard is small and clearly was once sub-circular.

There is no doubt that the chancel was added to an earlier cell, and as the east window is Decorated and thus 14thC, the nave could be 13thC. However, it is possible too that it is not in its original location. The other windows are replaced and thus of no help. On the evidence the nave could be 13thC, but what of the shorter plinth on south side? - its origin and purpose remain obscure. Certainly some rebuilding on the north, the angles at the east end, and possibly the whole of the west wall. The porch could be medieval - certainly its roof is so.

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

History

The origin of the church is unknown though it was reputedly founded by St Saeran - the location and morphology of the churchyard point to an early medieval origin, as too perhaps does the 'lost' stone with interlace decoration from the churchyard wall.

The Norwich Taxation of 1254 records 'Ecc'a de Wenechdit' at a value of 10s, but there is no reference in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas in 1291.

Glynne visited the church 'of a rude and coarse architecture' prior to its restoration, and noted the Decorated east window and the wooden font. The rood loft was still in existence in 1872 though perhaps in 1714 it had been removed to the west end of the church, widened and used as a singers' gallery. Other alterations are said to have been undertaken in 1714.

Restoration was completed by Arthur Baker in 1873 at a cost of 500; to him are due the removal of the gallery and the construction of the north and south windows, the west doorway and the bellcote.

Architecture

Efenechtyd church consists of a nave and chancel in one, a bell-turret over the west end and a west porch. The church is oriented a little to the south of west and for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for the church, though not for the churchyard.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises small to medium blocks and slabs of red and buff coloured rubble including red sandstone and some fine-grained sedimentary material (?mudstone), yet relatively homogeneous; irregular coursing. 'B;' is similar to 'A' but has better dressed, squared blocks, effectively little more than a variation on 'A'.

Roof: slates with concrete ridge tiles; stone cross finial at east end. Bellcote at west end has dressed stone throughout; a single aperture with a cusped head for the bell and a stone cross above it.

Drainage: a hollow runs beside the wall on the south but is not entirely convincing. More in evidence on the north where up to 0.5m wide. Nothing on west and east.

Exterior

Nave and Chancel. General. Assessed as one cell for no visible distinction on north side and only a very slight inset on south.

North wall: one window only, at junction of nave and chancel. This is flat-headed and has two lights with trefoiled ogee heads, all in off-yellow freestone. Wall itself, originating in 'A', appears to represent several phases. At west end, some rebuilding in 'B': stones at the angle are more regularly set and not quite flush with the general wall face, but the appearance is confused by an intrusive mortar line suggestive of a crack between the old and new. A second change visible around the window; the masonry beneath is inset by a few centimetres and though less obvious at higher levels, it appears as though the whole section was rebuilt (in 'A') when the window was replaced. A little to the east of the window the wall again is fractionally inset; the new masonry is very similar to 'A' but some of the individual stones could be a little smaller with a consequently greater range of stone size apparent; the western edge of this matches the more obvious break between nave and chancel on the south. Finally the north-east angle may also have been replaced in 'B', the new masonry not being precisely flush with the old.

East wall: impossible to determine how much of the wall has been rebuilt. Differential cleaning and the raking out of pointing produces a misleading picture, though possibly both angles have been replaced. It is possible, too, that the window is re-set for there is a patch of very regular masonry beneath the window which looks like a deliberate infill, perhaps for a larger window, or perhaps even for the re-setting of the present window at a higher level. Yet sill and mullions are renewed, and it could conceivably be that masonry beneath window renewed at the same time. Rest of window in deep red sandstone, two lights with cusped tracery ending in broad ogee heads and a cusped quatrefoil above, all under a two-centred arch; original and 14thC?

South wall: two two-light windows of Victorian pattern as seen in north wall. Three-fifths of way along wall from the west corner the wall is inset and the angle shows a slight batter; given the randomness of much of the masonry in this structure this does appear to be an original corner with selected stones used for quoins. Masonry of the chancel reveals same variation as north wall, and again there are hints that extreme south-east angle of the chancel has been rebuilt. One curiosity is presence of a plinth projecting for 0.1m at base of nave wall; this is not present beneath the chancel, but nor does it continue as far as the south-east corner of the nave.

West wall: conceivably the whole wall has been rebuilt. Certainly a new doorway constructed (see porch interior) and the single trefoiled lancet window above it shows no sign of insertion. Some squared blocks of red sandstone built into wall face could be re-used dressings, though there is insufficient variation to classify the masonry as a different fabric.

Porch. General. Walls constructed in 'B'-like masonry; abuts nave and not bonded in.

North and south walls: plain.

West wall: open fronted; barge boards with cusping and central projecting pinion; behind this is a cambered tie beam with diagonal struts above; the tie beam is supported on half-length wooden uprights resting on low walls.

Interior

Porch. General. Flagged floor. Walls plastered and whitewashed, but foundation walls which double as high benches left unplastered. Roof has a single bay with two cambered tie-beam trusses, chamfered purlins and cusped windbraces. Inner truss is supported on wall posts which themselves are chamfered with stops; all original except for rafters and ridge purlins.

North and south walls: plain.

East wall: four-centred arched doorway with complex mouldings and an engraved date of 1873. The door itself is older, with original latch, hinges and knocker shaped as a spur.

Nave. General. Tiles at rear and under font, carpet down aisle may hide more; flush wooden boards under benches. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof of eight narrow bays with the arched-braced collar trusses supported on hammerbeam 'corbels' alternating with single common rafters; all of the collars have rectangular slots on their undersides, indicating a former collar purlin; ordinary purlins and intermediate rafters have been replaced (in 1873), but most of the timberwork is original. Wooden panelled vestry raised on wooden boarding in north-west corner.

North wall: one splayed window. Attached to the wall: a wooden mural tablet of 1810, one stone mural tablet and a benefaction board.

East wall: screen which dog-legs around pulpit.

South wall: splayed window; stone mural tablet of 1737.

West wall: nothing to note.

Chancel. General. Two steps up from nave to chancel, one more to sanctuary and altar. Floor with some encaustic tiles partly covered by carpet. Walls as nave; old pew panels used to line north and south walls of sanctuary. Roof of five bays with trusses similar to nave but lacking 'corbel' supports; signs of a former barrel vault over chancel.

North wall: two marble mural tablets and a brass of the 18thC plus a wall painting; one 20thC brass.

East wall: on evidence of window embrasure, wall is thinner than north and south walls.

South wall: one 19thC marble memorial.

West wall: screen.

Churchyard

Efenechtyd churchyard is small, irregularly curvilinear, well-maintained and generally level, though there is a slight rise on the south side. It occupies a spot a little above the valley floor.

Boundary: defined by a stone wall which is largely mortared. But house forms part of southern boundary and drystone wall continues it on this side. Hedge inside wall on east. Walls probably follows an earlier bank, except on south where the original line must have been within the Old Rectory garden.

Monuments: spread fairly evenly throughout the yard, locally close-set but never dense. West of the porch near the gate are chest tombs of 1768, 1775 etc, and one grave near the south-east corner of the chancel from 1781. 20thC burials to the north of the church.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: none except for material banked up against inside of south wall. Interior of churchyard is raised, with a 1m+ external drop on the north-west and east and 0.5m on north.

Ancillary features: stone lychgate with wooden gates and roof, all undated. Small garden gate on south gives access to the Old Rectory, and another gate to road on east side. Tarmac paths.

Vegetation: four yew trees around the west, north and east boundaries plus a few other trees.

Sources consulted

CPAT AP: 95-006-0014
CPAT Field Visit: 12 August 1996
Crossley 1946, 14
Fletcher and Williams 1986
Glynne 1884, 170
Hubbard 1986, 157
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872 pl 30
Owen 1886, 52
Quinquennial Report 1988
Ridgway 1997, 74
Thomas 1911, 75
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 Efenechtyd 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 ( 22:01:28 ).
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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