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Wrexham Churches Survey

Church of St Deiniol and St Marcella , Marchwiel

Marchwiel Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Marchwiel in the county of Wrexham. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ3572547720. At one time it was dedicated to St Deiniol.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 100145 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Marchwiel Church, CPAT copyright photo CS963003.JPG


St Marcellus' church is a wholly Georgian structure which replaced a medieval predecessor in 1778. It contains several monuments to Yorke family of Erddig, and some interesting stained glass from the late 18thC. The building is set on a slightly raised platform within the present extended, rectangular churchyard.

A Georgian church from 1778 with additions of a tower in 1789, a north transept in 1829 and a 19thC polygonal apse to the chancel.

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


The original dedication was to St Deiniol but this in itself cannot be taken as an indication that the site had an early medieval origin, and there is nothing that points to a pre-Conquest foundation.

'Ecclesia de Marchocil' is recorded in the Norwich Taxation in 1254, and it appears later as 'Ecclia de Marthwyel' in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 with a value of 5.

Two wooden boards on the south wall of the tower staircase bear the following record: 'Parish of St Marcella, formerly called St Deiniol, originally part of parish of Bangor-is-y-Coed until c.1535, at which time it became a Parish of itself. On the site where the present church stands was formerly a chapel called St Deiniols belonging to the Monastery of Bangor-is-y-coed and after its demolition took the present name from materials of which the first church was built viz. strong twigs and mortar, march in Welsh denoting strength and gwiail meaning twigs. The said church was dedicated to St Marcella by Bishop Wharton September 5th 1537'. Of its form we know nothing..'.

The present church was built by subscription in 1778. The tower was added in 1789 by James Wyatt at the expense of Philip Yorke of Erddig and a subscription of 50 from Charles Brown of Marchwiel Hall, at an overall cost of 450.

The building was enlarged in 1828/9 by the addition of a north transept to house an organ gallery and vestry. An apse was also added to the chancel, probably a Victorian embellishment according to Hubbard.

In the present century there were repairs and reseating in 1923, the erection of the altar and reredos in 1927, faculties for re-seating in 1938 and renovation work in 1939, and in 1960 the coke-fired heating system was replaced by an electric one. In 1977/8 a major restoration programme included re-slating the roofs, re-timbering the barrel vaulted ceiling over the chancel; replastering the walls and replacing in concrete the timber floors in the chancel and north transept. The church was rewired and the vestry modernised. Pews were removed from the north transept and loose chairs substituted. Toilet facilities were added to part of this north vestry/transept.


The church comprises a nave and chancel, a north transept and a west tower. The church is oriented west-north-west/east-south-east but 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted in the description that follows.

Fabric: 'A' consists of medium to large linear blocks of buff-yellow sandstone ashlar with regular coursing.

Brick footings are visible along the south wall and below the sanctuary, and the vicar reports that the inside of the tower and the north transept are faced with brick.

Roofs:- slate with black reconstituted clay ridge tiles.

Drainage:- guttering and downpipes lead to soakaways. A cobbled zone around the whole church, except along part of the south, probably covers a drainage trench.


General. There is a basal plinth around the whole church to a height of c.0.5m, consisting of projecting blocks of stone which give a narrow flat ledge on the top of the plinth. The stones forming the plinth are larger for the tower than for the body of the church. Overhanging cornices below the parapets.

Tower - General. A west tower with a standard basal plinth which rises in three stages, separated by string courses, the first a moulded string course, the second a pilaster string course. Above the third stage an overhanging moulded cornice and then a balustraded parapet which is set back slightly, and four corner urn finials surmounted by weathervanes. The upper two stages have their faces fractionally inset.

North wall:- the first two stages are featureless; the third stage has a belfry window consisting of a long round-headed, louvred window with large, arced slabs for the arch. A long downpipe.

East wall:- as north wall with only the belfry window but no downpipe. . South wall:- in the second stage is a clock face set in a roundel with a moulded stone surround, and in the third a standard belfry window.

West wall:- in the first stage is what was once the main door - there is now a large, wide, round-headed window. This retains the moulded pilaster columns, foliate capitals with moulded abaci and large consoles, and a hoodmould, of its predecessor but there is stone blocking beneath the window, down to ground level. In the second stage a black clock face with gold numerals in the roundel. The third stage has a standard belfry window.

Nave - General. Basal plinth and moulded overhanging cornice.

North wall:- on the west side of the north transept is a single tall round-headed window with a grille over it as indeed have many of the windows. The arch stones are of a different form from to those in the tower (see below under south wall).

East wall:- visible above the chancel roof line, the cornice forms a string course.

South wall:- at the west end is the main doorway, a plain, round-headed archway with pilasters formed of large projecting blocks and a pediment defined by moulded courses; a semi-circular glass panel in the tympanum. Further east are three round-headed windows with arches of voussoir-like stones, and below the middle one is a railed grave plot.

West wall:- short, featureless sections only.

North transept - General. An addition to the north wall of the nave with a continuous plinth to the same height as that of the nave and chancel. The cornice is similar to but not exactly the same as that in the nave.

North wall:- a round-headed window with a tie-rod plate beside it. Above the string course ( an extension of the cornice) is a blocked aperture, presumably formerly a window in the gable.

West wall:- one round-headed window, the arch stones matching those in the church rather than the tower.

East wall:- round-headed window and to the north of it a plain, square-headed doorway. Outside this east door, a patch of flagstones suggests that there was originally a porch here.

Chancel - General. Plinth as nave. A narrower and lower addition to the nave with a polygonal apse. The three sides that light the sanctuary contain square-headed stained glass windows, those on the north and south sides, much larger than that in the east wall.


Tower - General. Part of the ground floor forms a vestry which is panelled off. The rest which links with the nave was until recently the baptistry. Carpetted floors, plastered and painted walls, and a planked ceiling. Above this is the organ loft approached by a dog-leg staircase. In the organ loft a ladder to the belfry.

North wall:- pew plates and keys affixed to the wall, and a 1930 commemorative tablet referring to the installation of the bells.

South wall:- stair to organ loft. In the organ loft on this wall are two wooden boards relating the history of the church.

Nave - General. Carpetted floors to wide aisle and slightly raised, planked floors under the benches. Plastered and painted walls. The roof is reported to be of king-post construction but now disguised by a flat plaster ceiling, with coving around the edge.

North wall:- wood panelling along the wall as a dado. A broad, basket arch, the soffit with depresseed panels painted blue, gives access to the north transept. Marble memorials of 1804 and 1827 and a 20thC brass.

East wall:- a two-centred arch to the sanctuary with moulded and decorated engaged capitals. The soffit of the arch is finished in the same way as that to the north transept. One 19thC brass and another as a First World War memorial.

South wall:- inner porch with panelled doors and sides. Marble memorials on the walls of 1770, 1773, and 1779, and one of 1978.

West wall:- a round-headed tower arch, with a soffit as the north transept, but largely hidden by the organ.

North transept - General. Carpetted with plastered and painted walls, and a flat ceiling. On its north side is a gallery below which is a separate exterior porch, toilet facilities etc.

North wall:- marble memorial of 1828.

East wall: stained glass in the window from 1985, and a large painting.

Chancel - General. One step up to the chancel, one to the altar. Fully carpetted, and the sanctuary with an encaustic tiled floor; the walls plastered and painted in pale cerise; and a plastered and painted ceiling with a moulded cornice.

North wall:- a painted Decalogue board with a moulded lintel above, a marble memorial of 1816, and brasses of 1860 and 1861.

South wall:- a Creed board similar to the Decalogue board. Marble memorials of 1795, 1881 and 1922.

East wall:- carved wooden reredos, a memorial gift referred to in an adjacent plaque with putto from 1926.


A near rectangular churchyard which was extended to the east in 1861, but has been encroached upon by road widening schemes. Municipal burial ground adjoining to the north. A well kept churchyard.

Boundary:- wall on all sides. A modern stone wall surmounted by railings on the south side. On the east a low red brick wall surmounted by a hedge and on the north and west a rubblestone wall with peaked coping stones.

Monuments:- burials on all sides. A chest tomb of 1729, and quite a number of 18thC memorials to the west and north-west of the church.

Furniture:- a sandstone baluster pillar for a sundial, minus the plate and gnomon, terminates in a plinth set on a large circular base. A short stone stump with a rounded top is placed on the south side of the chancel; it also has a splayed base. Its function is unclear.

Earthworks:- a scarp bank just to the east of the church marks the original east side of the churchyard.

Ancillary features:- a pair of large iron gates with an overarch and lamp form the south entrance, and at the south-west corner are similar gates. Leading intot he cemetery on the north are a pair of iron gates supported on iron posts. Tarmac paths laid all round.

Vegetation:- ten yews of no great age around the west and north boundary walls. The remainder of the churchyard is encircled by later firs, Irish yews and five poplars along the south roadside.

Sources consulted

Church notes n.d.
CPAT Field Visits: 7 July 1997 and 5 February 1999
Denbighshire Record Office: records for 1828 proposed enlargement of church
Faculty: St Asaph 1861 (NLW) addition to churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1923 (NLW) repairs and re-seating
Hubbard 1986, 251
Quinquennial Report
Thomas 1908, 453

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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 Marchwiel Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.

The CPAT Wrexham 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 ( 22:03:19 ).
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 -, website -

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