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Flintshire Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Ysceifiog

Ysceifiog Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Ysceifiog in the county of Flintshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ1526571498.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16977 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Ysceifiog Church, CPAT copyright photo 95C0174.JPG

Summary

St Mary's church lies on the edge of the small settlement of Ysceifiog, 7 miles north-west of Mold. The present structure was built in its entirety in 1836-7, replacing a medieval structure of which little is known. The present building retains a few fragments of medieval stained glass, a Perpendicular font bowl and a carved slab depicting a 14thC priest. Its churchyard is large and level and has portions of a 14th-15thC churchyard cross.

Church in simple Early English style constructed in 1836-7 using local limestone with some re-use of masonry.

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

History

The origins of the church are unknown but there is nothing to suggest an early medieval beginning.

It is recorded as 'Ecc'a de Esceynant ' with a value of 4 in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 and as 'Ecclesia de Skeyvauc' in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 when it was worth 13.

An earlier church is shown in a watercolour by Moses Griffiths dating from 1782. This had a nave, north and south aisles and a western tower with saddleback roof, attached to the north aisle, which itself appeared to be of two compartments, and had a round-headed north door and square-headed windows. Thomas noted that in digging out the cellar for the heating apparatus the remains of an even earlier church were discovered.

The present church was constructed in 1836-7, the architect being either John or Edward Welch.

A faculty was submitted in 1900 for the restoration of the church, but this does not seem to have taken place until 1912. At that time the work included the removal of all present seating, repaving the seating area in the nave with woodblock floors upon a concrete foundation and repairing the remainder of the nave with flagstones laid on cement. The nave was reseated with pitch pine benches. The choir, vestry, chancel and organ chamber were separated from the remainder of the church by the erection of an oak screen, the old font was repaired and placed on a polished stone base, the gallery and its iron supports were removed and ventilation was inserted in the roof. The chancel was refloored with tiles laid on concrete, new choir stalls were erected as was a new oak reading desk, lectern and pulpit. The sanctuary was relaid with tiles set in cement, the existing door frames and casings were removed and the openings in the walls of the chancel were built up into a sedile and piscina. New heating apparatus was added and new grilles inserted, and during the work, the remains of an earlier church were encountered.

Further restoration work took place in 1972.

Architecture

The church consists of a wide nave, a short chancel and sanctuary with a vestry and porch on the north side against the sanctuary. There is also a west tower. The building is oriented fractionally north of true west, and for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' comprises local limestone of medium to large size with dressings of the same stone, possibly some re-used; traces of residual limewash.

Roof:- slates with plain ceramic ridge tiles. Finial above the sanctuary broken off.

Drainage:- 19thC guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. No obvious drainage gully though possibly something on the north?

As the whole building dates from the 19thC, the following record is no more than a summary statement.

Exterior

Tower - General. A four-stage western tower with clasping buttresses at the west corners and corner buttresses on the east. There is a continuous plinth at c.0.5m above ground level, and the walls are stepped in at two levels, effected by a string course and higher up a dentilation course, the latter in yellow sandstone, around the tower below belfry level. The top of the tower is battlemented with eight pinnacles.

North wall:- the second stage has a single lancet, the third stage a pair of blind lancets, and the fourth stage a belfry window comprising long, twin, louvred lancets with a pilaster buttress between them.

East wall:- nave roof rises to the third stage. Standard belfry window of paired lancets.

South wall:- the second stage has a blind lancet, the third and fourth stages as the north wall.

West wall:- at ground level a doorway with a two-centred arch and chamfered dressings. Above are windows comparable with the north wall.

Nave - General. Externally the nave and chancel are differentiated from the sanctuary by the slight reduction in width of the latter, although the plinth, 0.5m above ground level and first seen on the tower, continues around the sanctuary as well as the nave. The nave and chancel have five bays containing tall slim lancets in both the north and south walls separated by six straight buttresses, with triangular arched heads in yellow sandstone. All the lancets have chamfered dressings. At eaves level is another denticulated course.

East end:- a string course accentuates the roofline at this end.

West wall:- single long slim lancets to either side of the tower with adjacent buttresses.

Sanctuary - General. Effectively a short eastern extension to the nave and chancel with a lean-to north porch.

North wall:- two-centred doorway into porch.

East wall:- standard buttresses to either side of a set of triple lancets with yellow sandstone dressings except for the outer jambs. A below ground boiler house, its arch turned in brick, lies below the east window.

South wall:- another lean-to against this wall with a lancet window in its east wall.

Interior

Tower - General. The ground floor forms the entrance porch. There is a stone flagged floor, exposed stonework to the walls and a plastered ceiling. Access to the belfry is via a staircase on the north side which is panelled off.

South wall:- a marble memorial of 1741, a brass plaque recording the 1983 restoration and one heraldic shield.

West wall:- the 14thC effigy of a priest under a cusped arch is set upright and embedded in the wall to the south of the entrance.

Nave - General. The nave has a herringbone woodblock floor throughout, with a carpetted central aisle, and heating grilles along the sides and front, though this underground heating has now been superseded by radiators along the walls; the stonework of the walls is exposed, the plaster having been removed in 1983, and there is a dado on the north, south and west walls of old pew panels. A low plastered ceiling. The vestry is partitioned off by wooden screens in the north-east corner of the nave.

North wall:- three 20thC brasses.

South wall: brass of 1757, and two of the 20thC.

West wall:- the centre of this wall, equivalent to the tower arch, is alcoved from floor to ceiling and has chamfered corners. Into this an internal porch has been fitted and above this is a four-centred window with modern glass.

Chancel - General. The floors of this and the sanctuary were relaid with mosaics in 1912; wooden block flooring under the seats. Vestry to the north and organ chamber to the south.

East wall:- the chancel is separated from the sanctuary by a wide four-centred arch with dressed stone voussoirs and chamfered jambs. Traces of earlier limewash and red paint on some of the chamfered blocks highlight the re-use of dressed stone from an earlier arcade. One stone on the north side has a prominent mason's mark. Two steps up to the sanctuary.

Sanctuary - General. Floor has mosaics and heating grilles.

North wall:- aumbry set into wall with two-centred arch over.

South wall:- sedile with two-centred arch over.

Churchyard

The churchyard is large, sub-rectangular and level. It is well-maintained.

Boundary:- a stone wall incorporating higher property boundaries on the south.

Monuments:- there are a few marked graves on the south side of the church, with rather more on the north side. Early graveslabs laid flat around the south-west corner of the church include dated examples from 1611, 1721 etc. There has been some clearance and rationalisation of gravemarkers with slabs laid flat along the north-east path. North of the tower is one from 1698.

Furniture:- the remnants of the churchyard cross, south of the nave, include the weathered octagonal base and part of the tapering polygonal shaft to about 1m in height. A fragment of the weathered head lies loosely on the base. A 15thC date has been postulated. The circular limestone shaft for a sundial is set to the south-west of the tower; no plate or gnomon.

Ancillary features:- a pair of iron gates form the west entrance; and there is a single gate in the north-east corner and a stile in the south-west corner - its path to the tower is composed of graveslabs with dates including 1737 and 1762. Otherwise tarmac paths with slabs laid flat on all sides, and a tarmac path leading to a gate to the new burial ground on the south side.

Earthworks:- the churchyard is raised about 0.5m on the north-east and north, and closer to 1m on the west, but with interior banking of 0.3m. No rise on the south.

Vegetation:- an old yew is near the south-east corner of the church. More recent yews grow near the north-east gate and midway along the south wall.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visits: 22 October 1996 and 20 November 1998
CPAT SMR
Faculty: St Asaph 1900 (NLW): church restoration
Faculty: St Asaph 1912 (NLW): church restoration
Hubbard 1986, 459
NMR Aberystwyth
Owen 1886, 205
Quinquennial Report 1990
RCAHMW 1912, 101
Thomas 1911, 209
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 Ysceifiog Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.


The CPAT Flintshire 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 ( 22:02:03 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7RR tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email - chrismartin@cpat.org.uk, website - www.cpat.org.uk.

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