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Denbighshire Churches Survey

Church of St Ychan , Llanychan

Llanychan Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llangynhafal in the county of Denbighshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1143862134.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16876 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanychan Church, P Smith copyright photo LLANYC.JPG

Summary

The small church of St Ychan lies in the centre of the Vale of Clwyd about 8km to the south-east of Denbigh. Consisting of a single cell with a porch, it is almost certainly an early medieval foundation, but has little even of medieval date. The walls are largely rebuilds of recent centuries and none of the windows and doors retain pre-Reformation stonework. Decorative timberwork from a late medieval roof, re-used in the reredos and a prayer desk, represents the only medieval survivals, but there are interesting monuments and church plate of post-medieval date. The churchyard is small and curvilinear, with most of its original boundary surviving.

North and east walls are probably Victorian rebuilds, the latter with a re-set window of the early 18thC. The south wall might be earlier for there is a window of 1626 set in it, yet this too was rebuilt according to Thomas. The west wall has features which from the appearance of the dressings might be 18thC or perhaps a little earlier.

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

History

An early medieval origin is likely on the basis of the dedication, the location and the churchyard morphology. (H)ychan is claimed to have been one of the relatives of Brychan Brycheiniog.

However, virtually nothing of the early history is known. The first reference to the church is in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 where it is referred to as 'Ecclesia de Laneban' with a value of 10s. In the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, it is named as 'Llan Hichen'.

Glynne visited the church in 1864. He noted the modern windows on the north side, and the late Perpendicular east window which he thought had been tampered with. The west door had an obtuse arch with a continuous moulding and hood (contra observations below), and the roof appeared to be original. He remarked too that the church was in an improved condition as though there had been some restoration. An annotation to Glynne's report states that at the east end of the church was a stone inscribed 'Here under the first stone in this holy ground, lyeth the body of Elizabeth vch Robert who died 21st Jan. 1670'.

The building was restored in 1877-8 by Arthur Baker and paid for by John Taber at a cost of 700. Baker seems to have changed the disposition of the windows, but in rebuilding the south wall he re-set a three-light one dated 1626. The faculty petition sought to repair the ancient windows but replace 'the modern windows with new ones of a more ornamental and substantial character'. The roof was repaired and a new timber-framed porch was built. A gable roof and a new bell were added to the bell turret, the old pews and other fittings were cleaned and repaired, and the heating apparatus was altered to suit the changed level of the floor.

Architecture

Llanychan church consists of a nave and chancel as a single chamber, a south porch and a vestry at the north-west corner of the nave. The church is oriented south-west/north-east but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for the church, though not for the churchyard.

Fabrics: 'A' is of limestone blocks, coursed, medium in size, with patches of render on the stone. 'B' is as 'A' but the rubble includes some though not a great many rounded pebble stones, and there is some slight variation in the appearance of the limestone; less render residue.

Roof: slates, grey stone ridge tiles; a wooden finial at the east end, and a wooden spike over the porch gable; the west end has a bellcote with a single bell, and there is another octagonal housing half way along the roof apex which might hold another bell?

Drainage: a 0.4m-wide gravel band along the north and south sides probably indicates the presence of a drain; there is nothing comparable to the east and west.

Exterior

Nave and Chancel. General. There is a slight slope to the ground from east to west and the masonry courses follow that slope

North wall: in 'A'. Lighting the nave is a flat-headed window of three lights with cusped ogee heads in buff sandstone. The chancel has a two-light window which is otherwise the same. Neither shows any signs of insertion.

East wall: a basal plinth up to 0.2m high but lacking any chamfer shows at bottom of the wall. Above this the fabric is 'A', though near the apex of the gable are a few rounded pebble stones making it more like 'B'. The east window is round-headed, has three lights with cusped ogee heads and cusped sub-arches, and a hoodmould of thin slabs of limestone with rudimentary stops. On the arch is incised 'M.I. 1713 P.M.' Possibly all of the tracery and the lower jambs have been renewed, and the window itself may have been rebuilt into a later wall.

South wall: in 'B'. From the east, the windows are: i) square-headed window of two lights with cusped ogee heads, all in red sandstone: Victorian; ii) a square-headed three-light window, the lights with rather coarse cusped heads and sunken spandrels all in buff-yellow sandstone; the top jambstones carry the inscriptions 'R.T.' and '1626'. West of the porch is a two-light window similar to that on the north side of the nave, and not showing any signs of insertion.

West wall: in 'A' with a batter to a height of c.0.6m. Doorway, perhaps 18thC, is round-headed in buff-yellow freestone with slightly worn filleting, pace Hubbard who classed it as four-centred Perpendicular; it sports an iron-studded door. Above is a rectangular window of two lights with hollow chamfers all in buff-yellow freestone. The bellcote has ashlar masonry and looks Victorian.

Porch. General. A wooden structure with glass-filled panels on the side. The south front has an arch-braced tie-beam and king-post entrance with plaster infill, and carved barge boards.

Vestry. General. Stone-built vestry and a subterranean boilerhouse on the north side, the latter approached by a descending flight of four steps. The vestry is in 'A', though this is not so well coursed as the body of the church; there are render and limewash traces, and the dressings are in the same freestone as the body of the church.

Interior

Porch. General. Tiled floor; wood and glass sides with wooden benches; two-bay roof with three arch-braced tie-beams, that on the outside described above; the outer ones have king posts, the central one a consecration cross on the apex of the soffit; purlins and one tier of cusped windbraces but all Victorian.

North wall: a narrow two-centred arched doorway with chamfers terminating in arrowhead stops; in red sandstone and showing very little wear - Victorian.

Nave. General. Floor of red, brown and black tiles; grilles in floor beside pews for underfloor heating, but also pipes along walls; pews raised up on wooden boarding. Walls plastered and whitewashed. Roof of nave and chancel of six and a half bays with arch-braced collars (except for the most westerly which lacks the braces), springing from crenellated wall plates, and raking struts; the underside of each arch brace has at its centre a painted, decorated wooden boss, with four different designs in all -?recently painted; two tiers of cusped windbraces. Design of roof is late medieval, but not all of it is necessarily that early?

North wall: one splayed window and a marble memorial of 1675.

East wall: Victorian panelling.

South wall: two splayed windows and one slate memorial of 1987.

West wall: organ on both sides of the door. The embrasure is not splayed and is not precisely symmetrical; splayed window above.

Chancel. General. One step up to chancel, one to sanctuary, one to altar. Encaustic tiles. Walls as nave, and roof described above, though two trusses do not have raking struts.

North wall: splayed window, one 20thC brass, and one marble memorial of 1725.

East wall: spayed window with datestone of 1925.

South wall: splayed window; marble memorial of 1743.

Churchyard

The churchyard is small and curvilinear, and occupies ground that slopes very gently from west to east, on the edge of a natural terrace rising above the floor of the broad Vale of Clwyd.

There are no indications that it has been extended, though there were proposals for some alterations to its boundary fence in 1874. It is well maintained, and is still used for burial.

Boundary: on the south-east is a hedge, much of it now gone, above a scarp and a wire fence; on the south-west the scarp bank is inside the fence and hedge; on the north-west there is a scarp down to a ditch, a fence, trees and an intermittent hedge towards the top of the scarp; the boundary on the north-east varies between a hedge, a stone wall and a wooden fence and appears relatively modern.

Monuments: well spread throughout the churchyard and not particularly dense. Ledgers predominate to the west of the church. Some monuments are flaking, others are ivy covered, and the ledgers in particular are difficult to read. Chest tomb of 1671 in Latin to east of porch; early 18thC ledgers to south-west of porch.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: churchyard is raised with drops on all sides but the north-east; on the south-east the drop is no more than 0.5m, but on the south-west it is closer to 2m.

Ancillary features: there is no gate at the entrance to the churchyard itself, rather double wooden gates and an iron kissing gate at the head of the path leading to the churchyard from the road. A tarmac path leads across the churchyard to the porch.

Vegetation: two yews to the south of the church, one to the east and several to the north; none of any great age but all mature. Also several mature pines and deciduous trees.

Sources consulted

CPAT AP: 95-006-0022/25; 95-C-0150/151
CPAT Field Visit: 13 November 1996
Crossley 1946, 40
DRO/PD/68/1/24: 1874 (churchyard)
Faculty: NLW 1878
Glynne 1884, 177
Hubbard 1986, 226
Neaverson 1953-54, 9
Quinquennial Report: 1988
Thomas 1911, 108


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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 Llanychan 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 ( 22:01:36 ).
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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