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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Elidan , Llanelidan

Llanelidan Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanelidan in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1098950541.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16842 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanelidan Church, CPAT copyright photo 95060003.JPG

Summary

Llanelidan lies in the hills at the southern end of the Vale of Clwyd, with Ruthin a few miles to the north. St Elidan's church is a characteristic Vale of Clwyd church with a double nave, but with a more recent westward vestry extension. Its earliest architectural details date from the late 13thC, but the second nave was added in the late 15thC/early 16thC with distinctive Perpendicular windows, and two further, individually dated, windows in the early 17thC. Internal features of note include re-used material from the rood screen, a?15thC font, some 15thC stained glass, and a Jacobean pulpit. The original form of the churchyard has been erased and it is now a raised rectangular area with a spread of gravestones from the 18thC onwards.

Porch: possibly the walls completely rebuilt, though much of the timberwork looks original.

Vestry: seemingly a Victorian addition though two different fabrics ('A' and 'C') represented which could conceivably indicate that it was extended at an earlier date (?17thC) for some unknown purpose, and the side walls rebuilt in the 19thC.

North nave and chancel: western part of north wall rebuilt in 19thC. Rest of the wall probably original and later 13thC on the basis of one window and the main door; a Perpendicular east window inserted, probably in the later 15thC, and in the north wall a window in Perpendicular style added in the early 17thC.

South aisle added, probably in the later 15thC, with one south window inserted in the early 17thC; the west end had a Tudor doorway blocked and some Victorian rebuilding.

In summary nave and presumably chancel built in late 13thC; south aisle added in late 15thC/early 16thC; vestry added in 19thC, with possibility of an earlier predecessor.

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

History

The dedication and the location suggest an early medieval origin, though there is no direct evidence to confirm this supposition.

In the Norwich Taxation of 1254 it appears as 'Ecclesia de Lanelidan' with a value of 2. By 1291 'Llanelydan' had risen to 8.

The Royal Commission volume on Denbighshire reported that the church was extended and partly rebuilt in 1460 with windows of this date in the east walls. The northern part of the church was supposedly lengthened in the early 17thC. The source of this information has not been traced.

Restoration took place in 1890 and included a new roof, the repair of the bellcote, the windows and doors, a new buttress at the north-east angle and a new chimney. Inside new steps and tiled floors were added, the church was re-seated and a new screen was introduced inside the main door,

Further work was undertaken in 1938 when the pews were re-arranged, the stone flooring was replaced with wooden blocks, and a new heating chamber was excavated at the west end of the church. Pipes and radiators were added. The faculty petition also referred to a vault in the south-east corner of the chancel and it was decided that the inscribed slabs from beside the vault should be re-set beneath the wooden flooring.

More restoration is reported in the mid-1960s when the floor of the building was lowered to its original level.

Architecture

Llanelidan church comprises a nave and chancel of equal width, with a western vestry extension over which is a bellcote. A south aisle of similar dimensions to the nave and chancel creates a typical 'double-nave' church. On the north side the main porch is placed half way along the nave side.

The church is oriented slightly south of west but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for the church, though not for the churchyard.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of small to medium blocks of grey sedimentary stone, fairly regular in shape (though this is exaggerated by snail pointing), but irregularly coursed. 'B' is similar, but some of the grey stone is clearly limestone, the rubble is less regular in shape and more randomly laid; some red sandstone is also in evidence. 'C' has regular blocks of grey stone together with small slabs of black or grey stone laminated in section, which in places predominates. 'D' consists of large, relatively regular blocks of pink sandstone, together with some grey limestone blocks; occasional smaller and more irregular stones used as infill; irregularly coursed. 'E' has small to large blocks of grey and buff-grey stone, some certainly limestone; some of the stones appear more worn than others; this rubble is jumbled and shows little regularity.

'B' is late 13thC/early 14thC; 'D' is late 15thC/early 16thC; 'A' and 'E' are contemporary and of 19thC date; 'C' might be earlier though almost certainly of post-medieval origin.

Roof: slates with terracotta ridge tiles; stone bellcote with two openings, at west end; cross finials at east end of both the chancel and the south aisle. Slightly disconformity in roof line where new section added to west end of nave.

Drainage: a brick and stone-lined trench runs along the south wall, continuing on east side of south aisle. No obvious trace around remainder of building but gardens on the west and parts of the north could overlie a covered drain.

Exterior

Porch. General. Fabric does not conform to any one of the fabrics listed above; the closest is 'E', but this has a predominance of large irregular blocks of red sandstone.

North wall: main entrance has a two-centred arch defined by massive timber uprights and an arch-braced tie-beam, partly supported on the terminals of large wallplates. Gable is open above the tie beam. Original timberwork.

East wall: 19thC light with flattened ogee head, conceivably inserted into wall?

West wall: as east wall but the window does not appear to be inserted.

Vestry. General. Added on to the church at a late date.

North wall: at the west angle, Fabric C for the first 1.5m, giving way to 'A'. Set in this is a rectangular three-light window, the lights with ogee heads, in Victorian (?1890) red sandstone. Beyond, the vestry gives way to the nave but without a change in the masonry.

South wall: largely in 'E' though at extreme south-west angle there is a change to 'A'. Wall contains a rectangular window with four ogee-headed lights comparable with the window in the north wall. Adjacent is a flat-headed door with a decorated lintel, all in the distinctive dark pink sandstone used for the dressings of this late addition.

West wall: primarily of 'C' though at the base of the wall are irregular blocks of grey stone reminiscent of 'B'. Just below eaves level the masonry changes from 'C' to a variation of 'A' and is carried up the bellcote. There is also a change at the south angle where 'C' gives way to 'A'. Two large buttresses support the wall, stopping at about the level of the masonry change.

Nave. General. Externally no differentiation from the vestry to the west and the chancel to the east.

North wall: initially in 'A', but about 1.1m west of the porch the masonry changes to 'B' (though the juncture is not clearly definable) and a basal plinth, chamfered in red sandstone at a height of c.0.3m appears. This fabric continues beyond where the nave gives way to the chancel. Built into the 'A' walling is a Victorian ogee-headed arched window with a hoodmould, and two trefoiled ogee-headed lights. Incorporated in the 'B' masonry is the main north door (see Porch interior, below), and a three-light window to the east of the porch. This window has a segmental head, with a cavetto hoodmould over it; the three stepped lights have cinquefoil cusping and the spandrels above carry the initials R.P. and the date 1618. The dressings are largely in yellow sandstone, but red sandstone has been used for some of the arch stones and the spandrels; no sign of any stone replacement, and no evidence that the window has been inserted. Hinges for shutters are still in evidence, and above the window and set in the wall is a tablet with 'HOLIANT IDDVW'.

Chancel. General. No differentiation from nave externally.

North wall: chancel succeeds nave immediately to east of 1618 window (see above). Two metres to east of window the chamfered plinth undergoes a slight change in appearance but there is no other evidence that the chancel may have been an addition, and the fabric is 'B' throughout. Sanctuary illuminated by a two-centred arched window with two cusped lights and Y-tracery, Decorated and of the late 13thC/early 14thC. The contemporary hoodmould has one stop broken off but the other is a distinctive and fine 'primitive' head; dressings are predominantly in pink sandstone, though the mullion in yellow may be replaced; hinges for shutters. A late angle buttress supports the north-east corner.

East wall: at the north-east angle the single plinth visible on the north changes to a double chamfered plinth. Above this is Fabric B, but to the south of the east window 'C' gives way to 'D', an extension of the south aisle masonry, and in the gable there are some Victorian ashlar blocks below the coping. The Perpendicular east window has five lights with cusping and panel tracery, all under a slightly angular four-centred arch with a hoodmould; all in yellow sandstone with a little renewal of the dressings only.

South Aisle. General. Subterranean boiler room at west end with a flight of steps down to it beside the wall.

East wall: chamfered plinth continues but only upper chamfer visible. Lower part of wall in 'D' but upper part has smaller mixed masonry akin to 'B'. Perpendicular east window similar to chancel window with same slightly angular arch and hoodmould but only four lights, the two middle ones with transoms; cusping follows the line of the arch. Dressings in yellow sandstone.

South wall: 'D' at lower levels, the blocks reasonably well dressed; as with the east wall the stonework is smaller and in variegated colour higher up the wall face; the quoins are of dressed pink sandstone; no chamfered plinth, only foundation stones projecting into the drainage gully. Three windows; the outer ones have heads that are almost triangular-headed rather than four-centred, hoodmoulds, three lights with cusped heads, and hollow mouldings. These are later 15thC/16thC in line with the east windows. In between is a square-headed window with three trefoil-headed lights and the inscription R T 1626, but no hoodmould; there are some signs that this window has been inserted into the wall face.

West wall: fabric 'D' at lower levels and in this a blocked Tudor doorway with a massive lintel stone. Above this is a Victorian three-light window with a two-centred head and a hoodmould with simple stops, and the gable above this has been rebuilt in an 'A'-type fabric and a chimney added on to the north of the apex.

Interior

Porch. General. Modern tiled floor one step up from the exterior. Walls painted but faces probably of breeze blocks. Roof of two bays, the outer trusses with arch-braced tie-beams (see porch exterior), the central one an arch-braced collar. The inner tie-beam truss, which hides, in part, the hoodmould of the north door, is supported on vertical uprights which stand out from the wall face. One tier of cusped windbraces. Some timber renewal but basically an original late medieval roof.

East wall: wooden-seated stone bench with window above.

South wall: 13thC, two-centred arched doorway with chamfered dressings in pink sandstone, one of the jambstones with sharpening marks, and the bases chamfered out to meet the chamfered plinth that runs along the base of the north wall. Above the arch, a hoodmould with face stops equivalent to that on the chancel window.

West wall: as east wall.

Vestry. General. Wooden block floor, walls plastered and whitewashed, and a flat, insulated ceiling.

North wall: splayed window; panelling from pews along wall.

East wall: partition between vestry and nave incorporates rood loft beam decorated with animals and angel (see below); painting of church interior (1937).

South wall: panelling from pews along wall.

West wall: plain.

Nave. General. Internal porch which is raised on two steps above general level of nave; lower step extends westwards and supports font. Wooden block flooring throughout. Heating provided by wall radiators. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Nave roof of four and a half bays with arch-braced collars and raking struts, the bracing resting on stubby wall posts on the north and on plain corbels on the south; one tier of slightly arched windbraces.

North wall: from west: i) splayed window; ii) modern painting of the blessed Edward Jones; iii) porch; iv) splayed window. Against wall is dado derived from plain pews. South wall: arcade of five bays, of which three are in the nave and the other two in the chancel; two-centred arches of two orders, octagonal piers on chamfered bases, with ribbing at base of capital and again above the base.

West wall: partition to vestry with organ pipes above. Incorporated into the partition are two decorated beams or panels with some evidence of decoration renewal.

Chancel. General. From nave one step up into chancel, one to sanctuary, one to altar; wooden block flooring with carpet over. Walls as nave. Roof of two half bays, the second defined by a plain collar with raking struts and plaster infill with the rest of the chancel having a four-centred wagon roof resting on stone corbels, the horizontal members brattished and traceried and having vine trails etc.

North wall: plain apart from one splayed window and panelling from old pews along wall face.

East wall: main splayed window. Built into wall to north of window is a small architectural fragment. South of the window is a piscina in a deep recess under an ogee-headed arch.

South wall: two bays of arcade.

South Aisle. General. Wooden block floor as nave, but one step into former chancel area. Walls as nave. Roof of four and a half bays and similar to nave, but timbers are cusped above collars, and the arch-bracing springs directly from the walls. Two tiers of small cusped wind braces. Over the chancel is a wagon roof but this is plainer and has a slightly different pitch to that in main chancel, the roof following the curve of the arched braces.

North wall: arcade.

East wall: splayed window. Two marble memorials of 1676 and 1802/1825 etc.

South wall: three splayed windows; marble memorials and plaques of 1694/1698, 1914,1987, 1775/1842, and, towards the west end, Commandment Boards.

West wall: splayed window.

Churchyard

The churchyard at Llanelidan is now a long rectangle extending up a gradual uphill slope, having been doubled in size in the 19thC. The original enclosure lay at the western end at the base of the hillslope directly above the valley floor through which runs Afon y Maes. Of this first enclosure little of its original form has survived. for though the churchyard is clearly raised on the west it is now defined by a series of straight alignments, and the former course on the south-east is little more than a faint scarp with only a hint of curvilinearity; the plan accompanying the 1883 faculty suggests more of a curve directly to the south of the church.

Boundary: on the west is a strong retaining wall, the ground level internally being in excess of 2.5m above the road running to the village. Similarly on the south the retaining wall is 2m high, and continues though in somewhat different form as the boundary of the extension, the ground levels either side evening out rapidly. On the north, there is a drop of 1m beyond the stone wall.

Monuments: these are well spread in the older part of the churchyard, reaching back to the mid 18thC; because of the eccentric position of the church there is rather more space to the north of it than to the south and all of the old stones are on the north, though there are a couple of later 18thC ledgers to the east of the chancel. The earliest stone recognised was of 1759. Memorials are closer set in the extension.

Furniture: only a war memorial outside the west end of the nave. Churchyard cross removed at the beginning of the 19thC; some parts used in the construction of the schoolroom.

Earthworks: former boundary on south-east shows as a slight scarp, south of south-east angle of south aisle but rapidly fades out.

Ancillary features: timber lychgate with double wooden gates on north; simple wooden gate due south of church, and a further wooden gate further east, adjacent to a store shed. Tarmac paths around the church.

Vegetation: a number of yews, some quite mature, though none of any great age; these are set to the north and east of the church, apparently quite randomly.

Sources consulted

Clwyd SMR, Welshpool
CPAT Air photos: 95-004-0023/24, 95-005-0035/36, 95-006-0002/5, 95-C-0131/132
CPAT Field Visit: 12 August 1996
Crossley 1946, 27
Faculty St Asaph 1883 (NLW) & DRO/PD/54/1/33
Faculty St Asaph 1889
Faculty St Asaph 1938
Hubbard 1986, 203
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872, pl 23
Owen 1886, 100
Quinquennial Review 1987
Quinquennial Review 1995
Ridgway 1997, 130
RCAHMW 1914, 98
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 Llanelidan 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 ( 22:01:35 ).
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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