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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Berres , Llanferres

Llanferres Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llanferres in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1885360559.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16849 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanferres Church, CPAT copyright photo Llanferres 03

Summary

St Berres church in Llanferres, between Mold and Ruthin, is perhaps an early medieval foundation, but the present structure is probably 18th with Victorian fenestration. In form it is different from the typical Denbighshire church due to its west tower and south transept. Sepulchral slab fragments and a weathered effigy survive from the Middle Ages, there is a 17thC font, 17thC and 18thC memorials and a fine chest. The churchyard is raised but has seen some modifications to its shape over the last three hundred years; few 18thC gravestones have survived.

Nave and chancel are the earliest, perhaps from a rebuild of 1774 or perhaps 1650, conceivably earlier. East window, reduced in length could well be 17thC, but could have been re-set. Victorian windows were inserted leaving ghosts of the earlier windows probably from 1774. South transept is later and abuts nave; likewise the tower though the west wall of nave cut away to accommodate this; vestry also 19thC.

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

History

Church is dedicated to St Berres (with variations such as Brice or Britius), who according to Thomas Pennant was a disciple of St Martin the Hungarian.

The location, the churchyard morphology and presumably the dedication imply an early medieval beginning but the first record of a church here is in 1291 when the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas referred to 'Ecclia de Lanverreys' with a value of 6 3s 4d.

17thC alterations, perhaps only to the east wall are indicated by a datestone of 1650 in the east gable. The rood beam was taken down in 1728. Plans and estimates for rebuilding were drawn up in 1768 and there are further references to rebuilding in 1774 (though Thomas following Pennant has 1772), probably the work of a Chester architect, Joseph Turner. The account book survives indicating a cost of 352.

In 1843 another Chester architect, Thomas Jones, added the south transept, west tower, and perhaps two galleries.

In 1891-2 John Douglas of Chester stripped internal render, removed the two galleries and put in new floors, new fittings including a new screen; glass in the east window was removed, divided into two, and inserted in the west windows. The cost was 1250.

Architecture

The church consists of a nave and chancel as a single cell, a south transept, a west tower and a porch near the north-west angle of the nave. It is oriented almost exactly east to west.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises regular, medium-sized roughly finished blocks of limestone, both grey and red, together with a few larger, more irregular blocks; some coursing; quoins of same material. Heavily pointed. 'B' is of small to medium blocks, fairly regularly coursed; some of the stone is darker than 'A'. 'C' consists or regular blocks of grey limestone, coursed.

Roof: slates, grey clay ridge tiles; cross finials at east end and on transept gable.

Drainage: hint of a gully on north side, tarmac around west end, nothing obvious on south and east.

Exterior

Tower. General. In 'C'. Nave west wall cut away to accommodate tower. Three stages. Bottom stage lit by single lancet lights while west wall has the main entrance, a four-centred doorway, turned in limestone blocks and chamfered. Above this is a two-light window of the standard form found throughout the church (see nave: below). Second stage also square but the tops of the angles are chamfered in broach fashion; small quatrefoil light in each side. Finally, an octagonal top stage lit by square-headed windows with cusped lights. Weathervane.

Nave and Chancel. General. In 'A'. Basal chamfered plinth to maximum height of 0.4m at south-east corner where a double plinth shows, but elsewhere lower plinth below present ground level.

North wall: two four-centred arched windows each with two broad cusped lights and hoodmoulds with simple dog's-leg stops, all in light brown freestone.

East wall: a very broad, depressed, three-centred east window with five cusped lights, hollow chamfered, hoodmould with simple stops as north windows. Clear signs of modification, the present window replacing a larger one, for 1.5m of limestone infilling below; some packing, too, around top. Above the main window a small single cusped light with standard hoodmould and stops, its tracery in better condition than the main window below it. Towards apex of gable a stone plaque with S: T D 1650. Indications that upper part of gable rebuilt, and this might explain changes in the quoins at high level.

South wall: double chamfered plinth visible on this side. East of transept one standard window as north side. West of transept another, similar.

West wall: on either side of the tower, a small cusped light with a hoodmould.

South Transept. General. Abuts nave. Fabric is a variation on 'A' with much less iron-stained limestone except in plinth. West and east sides have standard two-light windows, the south wall a three-light window of the same design with a three-centred head and a standard hoodmould; relieving arch in limestone blocks. Diamond-shaped, slatted, light in the gable face above.

Vestry. General. In 'B'. Plain rectangular door on west side, slight chamfer. In north wall a two-light window with four-centred arch and standard hoodmould, but the tracery more worn than elsewhere, and the dressings of different stone to the rest of the building.

Interior

Porch. General. Internal porch located beneath tower. Flag floor; bare walls; wooden ceiling just above apex of two splayed windows in north and south walls.

Tower. General. Ground floor recorded above. First floor used as storage room and for access to bell rope, reached by stairs and gallery. Nothing to note.

Nave. General. Wooden block floor with similar blocks flush beneath benches. Flags at rear beneath and around font, other re-used graveslabs flooring area at front of nave. Walls bare but with dado formed from old pew panels on north and south sides. Five-bay roof with moulded tie-beams resting on short wall posts set on stone corbels and reinforced by angle braces; above the tie-beams is a flat wooden ceiling with purlin supports.

North wall: from west a simple archway to vestry with edge stones for the arch and lacking any dressings for the jambs. Above and to east of this is the surviving stonework of a blocked window, not as well formed as the internal arch of the adjacent Victorian window. One splayed Victorian window and above it a trace of the top of an earlier window (larger or at least higher than that to west). Wall supports several photographs, a wooden prayer board in Welsh, and three memorials, two 19thC examples in marble and one a 20thC brass.

East wall: Victorian screen.

South wall: about half of this removed to give access to south transept. Otherwise one splayed window, two wooden boards each with the Ten Commandments, that to the west earlier in date and signed and dated by E.Davies. Also a small brass in the corner.

West wall: doorway to porch has segmental arch and to the south a benefaction board. Above these is a gallery supported on corbels from the side walls, with a flight of stairs in the north-west corner. The two small windows in the west wall light the gallery, are splayed and have internal relieving arches.

Chancel. General. Two steps up to chancel, one to sanctuary, one to altar. Tiled floors including encaustic tiles in sanctuary, flush wooden block floors beneath choir stalls. Bare walls. Roof of two bays similar to those in nave but the braces are decorated and the ceiling is divided into panels by cross-pieces. Both the crenellated wooden wall plates and the sloping panels immediately above it are painted, the plates with texts. Truss over chancel step also inscribed.

North wall: standard Victorian splayed window, again with evidence of an earlier fractionally larger window above it. Marble memorial to east of 1844.

East wall: large splayed window but with ornate reredos beneath.

South wall: splayed window which again is a replacement as can be seen from infilling above it. In the south-east corner a marble memorial of 1687.

South Transept. General. Wooden block flooring as nave except at east end where the re-used slabs in the nave continue across the transept; bare walls with pew panels along south and west sides; and roof of two bays also as nave. A small altar at east end and otherwise filled with benches.

North wall: none.

East wall: splayed window similar to those in nave but lacking any sign of a predecessor; above and to the north of the window is a buttress-like affair resting on corbels and rising to roof level; its function needs to be ascertained.

South wall: splayed window; clamped to wall two medieval slabs and a fine graveslab of 1660.

West wall: splayed window only.

Vestry. not accessible.

Churchyard

Churchyard is now an irregular rectilinear form due to an extension on west side. Former western boundary still discernible as a curving earthwork (see below). East side also known to have been cut back in the past to allow widening of the road. Within the yard the ground drops gently from west to east and a short distance to the east there is a steeper drop into the valley of the River Alyn.

It is well-maintained and there are a few recent burials on the north side of the church, though the old churchyard was officially closed for burial in 1910 when the extension was opened.

Boundary: retaining wall on east side, a drystone wall on the north, currently being rebuilt in places, buildings on the south, and on the west a short drop with a vertical wall face into the extension.

Monuments: fairly sparse and those in place are mainly ledgers and chest tombs. Gravestones, all 19thC, cleared to the south-east edge of the yard. Earliest observed stones of 1790 and 1795. Thomas noted in the churchyard 'a beautiful early coffin lid ornamented with a floriated cross and bearing a shield with the Warren arms'. No longer in evidence.

Furniture: west of tower is a sundial with an uninscribed plate and no gnomon; set on tapering baluster pedestal of concrete fixed in a round base.

Earthworks: churchyard slightly raised: 0.6m on east, 0.3m on north, 0.5-0.7m on west. On south is an external drop but impossible to determine whether this is due to subsequent modification.

Ancillary features: double iron gates on east with tarmac path to porch. Gap on south leads into public house carpark, also a tarmac path and adjacent to it is a new stone store shed, classed as hearse house in listed buildings schedule. A further tarmac path to iron gate near north-west corner.

Vegetation: a couple of yews along north edge, others on east, south and west; all mature specimens but not of great age.

Sources consulted

Account Book 1774: DRO/PD/57/1/36
Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings
CPAT Field Visit: 4 March 1997
Crossley 1946, 30
Faculty 1901: DRO/PD/57/1/41
Gresham 1968, 120; 134; 243
Hubbard 1986, 211
Neaverson 1953-54, 12
Quinquennial Report 1988
Thomas 1911, 400
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 Llanferres 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 ( 22:01:45 ).
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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