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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Cwyfan , Llangwyfan

Llangwyfan Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llandyrnog in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1203666288.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16837 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llangwyfan Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0161.JPG


The small church of St Cwyfan lies some 5 miles to the east of Denbigh. It is a single-cell structure, its external faces completely rendered. One of its windows may be 15thC and there are others of 17thC and 18thC origin, together with a porch of early 18thC date, the building having escaped Victorianisation. This is evident too from the box pews inside, though no medieval fittings have survived. The churchyard is small and rectangular with an interesting range of 18thC monuments.

Very little can be said of this church; one window on the south side is probably 15thC, its northern counterpart might be, and the south door could even be earlier, possibly 14thC. Some other windows are probably 17thC on the basis of an incised date. The age of the masonry shell remains unknown, but the porch appears to date from 1714.

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


The dedication to St Cwyfan and the location suggest an early medieval foundation, but there is no evidence to collaborate this assumption.

The first reference - to 'Ecc'a de Langeifin' - is in the Norwich taxation of 1254, when it was valued at 10s. It does appear in the Lincoln Taxation - Thomas thought it was probably included with Llandyrnog - but in 1535 it appeared as 'Llan Goyffen'.

The windows indicate work in 1684 and also probably in the 18thC. A print of 1793 shows a building much as it appears today including the two-centred arched window in the west wall, a near square bellcote and the porch with its plaque and port-hole windows.

A photograph from the early part of the 20thC shows two slit windows above the two-centred arched window in the west wall pointing to some 19thC modifications which included the vestry on the north side, and according to Thomas the removal of a gallery to allow space for the choir.


Llangwyfan is a small single-celled structure with a south porch and a north vestry both located at the west end of the church, and a bellcote above the west gable. It is oriented south-west/north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here. Conventional directions are retained for the churchyard.

Fabrics: no information available as the whole exterior is rendered.

Roof: slate roofs, plain grey clay ridge tiles; cross finials to chancel and porch.

Bellcote of dressed?limestone with a flat slab for the top; a single bell with a large metal wheel; bellframe rebuilt in last few years.

Drainage: a depression beside the wall on the south could be an indicator, but this is less convincing on the north and there is nothing on the east and west.


Nave and Chancel. General. Considered as one because no external differentiation.

North wall: nave is lit by a single two-light window in buff-yellow sandstone, with a square head that carries the inscription '1684 I M'; the lights have segmental heads, but are otherwise plain; hinges for shutters. Chancel window in same freestone, also flat-headed with a single round-headed light that has undistinguished cusping and hollowed spandrels; shutter hinges have been removed leaving sockets. Between the two windows is an unexplained thickening of the wall, reaching to about half its height, about 1.6m long and 0.1m wide. Its eastern end has a render-covered brick buttress leaning against it, indicative of a problem in this part of the north wall. Further west beneath the nave window is a similar thickening of the wall near ground level, which is presumably the remaining portion of an earlier nave wall.

East wall: wall dominated by a square-headed window which has two, two-centred arched lights with both panels and filled spandrels above; in gold-coloured freestone, with one mullion stone renewed; not a conventional Gothic window. Olive freestone for the hoodmould and two head-stops, one more weathered than the other; these may be earlier than the window itself but their date remains uncertain.

South wall: wall face beneath the render is somewhat irregular, and there is a slight batter to base, particularly of chancel. Chancel lit by single light with cinquefoil cusping, but jambs and even part of tracery have render coat, suggesting that the dressings may not be in good condition. Perhaps an original window. One hinge in place. To west a two-light window comparable with that on north side, though segmental heads of lights have weaker arcs; sockets for hinges.

West wall: a two-centred arched doorway now contains a window and has done from at least the late 18thC; double ribbed mouldings all in grey sandstone with traces of limewash. Above a circular window.

Vestry. General. This and the partially subterranean boiler house are both rendered. No features of interest.

Porch. General. Exterior rendered.

East wall: oval window fashioned from single block of pink sandstone.

South wall: a broad round-headed arch to the doorway turned in blocks of pink sandstone which are dressed but not chamfered; some of the jambs are badly weathered. Above it a plaque in buff-brown sandstone reading 'CADWALADER EDWARDS THO: ap HUGH CHURCH WARDENS Ao Dni 1714. Double wooden doors.

West wall: window as in east wall but from two blocks of sandstone.


Porch. General. Stone slab floor, plastered and painted walls, simple roof showing three purlins.

North wall: doorway in red sandstone with two-centred arch and a reverse wave-moulded chamfer which may have ended in stops though these are now completely weathered away. Consecration cross and graffiti on jambstones, together with numerous sharpening grooves.

East wall: small rectangular splayed embrasure for window, the splay asymmetric. Wooden-topped bench along wall.

South wall: stone of arch and jambs exposed.

West wall: window and bench as on east side.

Nave. General. Porch and nave floors at same level. Stone slab floor but no obvious re-use; carpet down centre. Churchwarden reports that cavity runs the length of the nave beneath the pews: one stone tipping into it; function uncertain. Box pews raised on wooden boarding. Walls plastered and painted, with timber dado on north, south and west sides to height of over one metre. Radiators and pipes against walls. Ceiling vaulted over and painted.

North wall: wall has pronounced outward batter. Splayed window has bare stonework and on the inner face wooden pilaster jambs and arch painted brown, with gold painted wooden blocks projecting as springers and keystone. Also several metal brackets for lamps (no longer in use). A painting of Christ and the Cross brought from Glyn Arthur c.1925. Doorway to vestry has embrasure carved out of the wall.

East wall: a step up into chancel is the only division.

South wall: like the north wall this has a pronounced batter. Doorway slightly splayed and has a segmental soffit. Window has same 18thC embellishment as that on north side. Near the door a modern mosaic scene of Christ, and on the east side of the window a painting of the Virgin and Child. Lamp brackets.

West wall: window renovated after doorway exposed in restoration of 1940. Embrasure faced in limestone and presumably a feature of the doorway, though the segmental head of the soffit may be part of the modification.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel, another to sanctuary. Chancel has stone slabs including a grave slab of 1642, centrally placed. Sanctuary has 20thC tiles. Walls and roof as nave, and no division between the two cells.

North wall: single window with 18thC wooden finish as nave.

East wall: splayed window, 19thC stained glass.

South wall: one window, its dressings painted over and the internal face of the splay finished in Georgian style as nave windows.

Vestry. General. Nothing of interest, though original stocks stored here.


Llangwyfan churchyard is small, seemingly rectangular, and set on a little spur projecting eastwards towards the Vale of Clwyd, a stream running past the enclosure on the north side. Internally there is a slight slope from east to west.

The yard is well maintained and still used for burial.

Boundary: a drystone wall acts as a retaining wall on the south-west and south-east with a wire fence on top and an external drop of 0.5m+. On north-west is a drop of nearly 2m, slightly embanked internally with a hedge and fence on top. Drystone wall above track on north-east, again some internal embanking and a drop of more than one metre to the track.

Monuments: a fairly uniform spread throughout the yard with frequent chest tombs to the south-west and south and upright stones to the south-west. Modern graves on the north-west side of the church and numbers of 18thC memorials though many too lichen covered to read. Chest tombs of 1741 and 1759 identified.

Furniture: modern stocks set outside the east gate.

Earthworks: none other than the slight internal embanking, and the generally raised interior.

Ancillary features: single metal gate near east corner with tarmac path to porch; stile at north corner.

Vegetation: several mature but not ancient yew trees around perimeter, particularly at the corners; a few other trees within the yard.

Sources consulted

CPAT AP 95-006-0033/34; 95-C-0160/161
CPAT Field Visits: 26 November 1996 & 20 February 1997
Hubbard 1986, 225
Ingleby 1793: Sketch of church
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872, pl 9.
Neaverson 1953-54, 9
Quinquennial Review 1995
Thomas 1911, 39

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 Llangwyfan 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 ( 22:01:47 ).
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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