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Wrexham Churches Survey

Church of St Chad , Hanmer

Hanmer Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Hanmer in the county of Wrexham. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ4546039735.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 100182 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Hanmer Church, CPAT copyright photo CS961332.JPG

Summary

St Chad's church is a late Perpendicular structure much repaired. The tower and aisle walls, particularly that on the south, survive, as do the chancel walls of 1720 but much else was destroyed in a fire of 1889. Externally the grotesques on the south walls are memorable. Inside little remains from before the fire: an early 19thC monument and some furniture. The church occupies a rectangular churchyard overlooking Hanmer Mere and there is a fine medieval churchyard cross to the south of the building.

The west tower was supposedly completed in 1570. The nave and aisles were reportedly built around 1490, but a butt joint on the east wall of the north aisle, and differences in the masonry of the north and south aisles suggest that this picture is not so simple, and it is possible that the north aisle was rebuilt at an unknown date. The chancel was added in 1720, the south porch at the end of the 19thC.

Fire caused considerable damage in 1889, contemporary photographs showing only the skeleton of the building.

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

History

The church is dedicated to St Chad, who became Bishop of Mercia and reputedly founded a cell on the site of the present church in the middle of the 7thC.

The earliest documentary reference is from 1110, when a moiety of the church was granted to the Augustinian monks of Haughmond Abbey. The Lincoln Taxation of 1291 includes 'Ecclia de Hameme' at a value of 10 within the diocese of Lichfield. Owain Glyndwr married Margaret, daughter of David Hanmer in the church.

The church was damaged about 1463, during the Wars of the Roses, and rebuilt around 1490 according to Thomas, though he felt the clustered shafts of the arcade were Early English from the 13thC. There were chantry chapels at the eastern ends of the aisles.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the property and rights were purchased by Sir Thomas Hanmer of Bettisfield Park.

Dineley in the 'Duke of Beaufort's Progress through Wales' in 1684, noted medieval stained glass, one piece carring the date 1433, and he sketched the north side of the church and a graveslab of 1608. Also he noted that a free school had recently been constructed in the churchyard and he appended a sketch of it.

The chancel was built 1720 to replace a smaller one of timber construction. It is reported that a two-storey porch on the south side of the church and the addition of battlements to the western tower were of this period also.

In 1739 the cross was re-erected having been taken down at the time of the Commonwealth.

Glynne visited the church sometime in the mid 19thC and noted that it was in a poor condition. He commented on the beautiful ceilings, but thought the chancel 'modern and ugly'.

The chancel was restored about 1884 including encaustic tiled floors and new stained glass windows.

Much of the church was destroyed by fire in 1889. Lost at this time were the roofs, a fine one in the north aisle and a less elaborate one in its southern counterpart, the southern arcade, screens across both aisles, and a part of the rood loft that had been set in front of the southern chantry chapel. The tower was gutted and the bells fell; the south gallery was totally destroyed and all the interior was burnt out leaving only bare stone walls. None of the early stained glass survived, but two chained books dating 1611 and 1632 were saved. Among other losses was a 14thC floriated cross slab, a mid-14thC slab depicting Dafydd ap Madog ap Rhirid, and the pulpit of 1627. The communion plate and registers were saved from the Fens Chapel by the vicar during the fire, and this is commemorated on a brass plate on the east wall of the present vestry.

Rebuilding to the plans of Bodley and Garner began immediately and the church re-opened in April 1892, at a cost of around 8000.

But the chancel was separated by a brick wall from the rest of the building and remained roofless until 1935-6 when it was restored by Caroe. The faculty for rebuilding and restoring the chancel included removal of the dividing wall, rebuilding the battlements and cornices on the east, north and south aisles and making the walls good. All exterior stonework was repointed below the level of the window arches and new stone inserted where necessary. The mullions and tracery in the three windows of the chancel were renewed, ashlar was replaced where necessary and undamaged ashlar was cleaned and pointed. Brickwork and timber was removed, and all interior rebuilding work was faced with ashlar. The roof of oak principals, purlins and boards supported on rafters was sheet leaded, and lead guttering was added fixed to the stone gullies, connecting to drains. The windows were fitted with diamond leaded lights in varying tints of cathedral glass and wrought iron window bars were added.

The bells were rehung in 1976.

Architecture

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

Fabrics: 'A' is of dressed sandstone, yellow originally but largely weathered to grey; coursed. 'B' is of grey and reddish sandstone blocks; irregular coursing. 'C' is of buff sandstone ashlar turning to grey; of regular appearance and mainly coursed. 'D' is similar to 'B' but more weathered and in buff turning to grey; more regularly coursed than 'B'.

'A' and 'D' of 15thC date; 'C' is from 1720 and 'B' of unknown date.

Roofs:- slates with stone ridge tiles, but lead sheets over the chancel and north and south aisles and a copper roof to the tower.

Drainage:- 19thC lead parapets and gutters all round leading to drains. No obvious drains around the buildings.

Exterior

Tower - General. In 'A'. A three-stage tower, each stage clearly smaller than the next, with stepped diagonal buttresses at the north-west and south-west corners, and stepped straight buttresses on the north and south walls at the east corners which rise above the aisle roofs as high as the bottom of the third stage. There is a continuous double plinth at c.1.2m above ground level, with a chamfer to the first stage and overhanging coping stones to the plinth top. Above this are four moulded string courses with two to the first stage and the upper three defining the three stages. Gargoyles, at the corners and mid way along each side, protrude from the top string course below the battlements. A battlemented parapet which has probably been added at a later date, and a weathervane and flag pole.

North wall:- no window in first stage. Second stage has a rectangular window with moulded frame and a label, and contains two quatrefoil lights, all in greyish-yellow sandstone. Third stage has a pair of two-centred windows each with two louvred, foiled, two-centred lights and transoms at half height; the hoodmould is continuous over both windows. Three tie-rod plates on the wall at this level. The first stage has a wide 'buttress' of masonry projecting no more than 0.3m from the wall face, its purpose unclear. A buttress, too, towards the east end of this wall face, one side of it against the west wall of the north aisle.

East wall:- abuts nave. The second stage has a square window with moulded frame and label, and a single quatrefoil light, and above this but in the same stage, a clock face. In the third stage a standard belfry window, and also two tie-rod plates.

South wall:- first and second stages similar to the north side, including the masonry 'buttress'. Above the second stage quatrefoils with their original dressings is a sundial on the wall, the face weathered but the iron gnomon still in place. Third stage has a standard belfry window. One of the merlons carries the initials 'T C'. Three tie-rod plates.

West wall:- on the ground floor is an original west door in reddish-brown sandstone with a square-headed and heavily moulded frame and label over a four-centred arch with carved spandrels; chamfered jambs; a pair of heavy panelled doors. The head of its arch has probably been renewed. The upper part of the first stage has a window with a high two-centred arch, hoodmould and four foiled, ogee-headed lights, with panel tracery above. The first string course runs over the top of this window as a hoodmould. Above are the standard quatrefoil and belfry windows.

North aisle - General. A lean-to against the nave, all in 'B'. The walls have a stepped plinth at about 1m above ground level which is continuous around the buttresses, and is similar though not exactly the same as that around the tower; on the north wall a lower plinth can be recognised. There is also a continuous string course above the apices of the windows, and the walls are topped by a plain parapet. The cisterns above the downpipes carry the churchwardens' initials. In the angle between the tower and the north aisle is a modern boiler house.

North wall:- in 'B' but also incorporates some dressed blocks of grey and yellowish sandstone. Four bays distinguished by three stepped buttresses and diagonal buttresses at the east and west corners. The three eastern bays each contain a window with a flattish, four-centred arch and four cinquefoiled, four-centred lights with a transom and foiled panel tracery and sub-arches. All the tracery is in pale buff freestone which has been renewed, while the hollowed and fluted chamfered jambs in grey and pink sandstone and the arches in pink sandstone look largely unweathered, but might conceivably be original; hoodmould and simple out-turned stops. The most westerly bay contains a doorway with a rectangular moulded frame within which is a four-centred arch over a panelled and studded door; a label above. Most of the dressings are original. The window above the doorway has a square-headed moulded frame which is original but the tracery and mullions in deep red sandstone are renewed; four foiled lights and small tracery lights, all under a label which runs across the width of the bay. Built into the north-west angle is a stair turret with a small round-headed light.

East wall:- double plinth at the base. A broad east window with a four-centred arch and five lights, three with ogee-heads, two with two-centred ones, and above this foiled panel tracery. All the tracery is 19thC, but the moulded jambs and arch could be original; a hoodmould above. At the extreme south end of the wall is what must be a butt joint rising to a height of c.2.5m. North of the window a wall tablet in white stone is set into the wall; any inscription on it has gone.

West wall:- a four-light window as on the north side, all its tracery renewed and its mullions in deep red sandstone. Another stair light near the north-west angle was a rectangular frame with a label and within the frame a two-centred light.

Nave- General. Nothing is visible of this externally.

Chancel - General. In 'C'. Double plinth, but not tied into those of the aisles. Battlemented above a moulded string course and a datestone of 1720 on the east side. Corner pilasters.

North wall:- a round-headed Georgian window with a projecting keystone and imposts and ribbed pilaster jambs; four foiled two-centred lights inserted. Also a pilaster buttress at the extreme west end of wall.

East wall:- a two-centred Gothic window with hoodmould, framed by pilasters which are not the same as those on the north wall window, and containing four two-centred lights with mixed tracery above (Hubbard speculated that the pointed window might be original though not the tracery). A panel of decorated slabs set below sill level is part of this late window embellishment.

South wall:- window as in the north wall, and the pilaster at the west end is also there.

South aisle - General. In 'D'. The parapet is battlemented and the string course below the eaves is ornamented with gargoyle-like carvings.

East wall:- a broad four-centred window holding five ogee-headed lights with panel tracery, all in pinkish-red sandstone that represents new dressings inserted after the 1889 fire. The hollow-chamfered jambs on the other hand are probably original, and the hoodmould has weathered stops, one an animal, the other perhaps a jester. Two carvings on the string course.

South wall:- the westernmost bay is occupied by the south porch, while the remaining three bays have windows that are comparable with those on the north side, but here original stonework with only the occasional renewal. The hoodmoulds have an interesting array of original stops and all the carvings along the string course are of different designs.

West wall:- the window has a four-centred arch, and the hoodmould has much weathered stops; four foiled, basket-headed lights. Again the hollowed jambs are original but not the arch or the tracery.

South porch - General. Originally there was a two-storey porch here but it was rebuilt as a single storey by Bodley at the end of the 19thC. The masonry is 'B'-type and there are red sandstone battlemented parapets on the east, west and south walls, and below these a string course with stone 'troughs' channelling rainwater at south-east and south-west corners.

East wall:- a stepped buttress abuts south wall. In the wall a square-headed window with two-foiled ogee-headed lights, all in red sandstone; a label.

South wall:- the archway into the porch has a square-headed moulded frame with label, and within this a four-centred arch in red sandstone with decorated spandrels. It is now fitted with a pair of wood and wire gates. Above the archway is a heavily decorated, but empty, ogee-headed niche and between this and the doorway a coat-of-arms on a stone plaque.

West wall:- as east wall.

Interior

Porch - General. One step up into the porch and one up to the church itself. Stone flagged floor; walls have exposed stonework with a mix of red and buff blocks of sandstone. Oak panelled ceiling with heavy joists.

North wall:- the south aisle doorway in original buff and yellow sandstone has a four-centred chamfered arch within a square-headed frame with fluted and moulded jambs, and over the frame a label (replaced) and large weathered head stops. In the spandrels are motifs of a lion and a Tudor rose. A pair of planked doors of no great age.

East wall:- a stone bench below a square-headed window aperture.

West wall:- as east wall.

Tower - General. One step down from the nave. A stone-flagged floor, loosely carpetted over. Exposed masonry to walls consisting of large linear blocks of reddish ashlar. Originally there was (or more likely was intended to be) a vaulted ceiling, and the corbels and springers are still in place, as are linking arches on the sides. Now a modern oak floor for the bell chamber.

North wall:- two wooden plaques (see below).

East wall:- a high two-centred chamfered tower arch of four orders, the innermost supported on engaged pillars and columns. Only the outermost order is original. The arch is fitted with an oak screen dating from 1906.

South wall:- 19thC monument to Lloyd, Lord Kenyon.

West wall:- four-centred arch to the reveal of the west doorway.

North aisle - General. Stone-flagged floor includes heating vent grilles and at least five worn gravestones, one with a date of 1788 date, and another with a brass plaque of 1793; flush woodblock floor under the benches. Exposed stonework to walls consists of sandstone ashlar, with radiators against them. Ribbed, panelled oak roof of four bays with camberbeams supported on modern corbels; 80 panels per bay. Reported to be an accurate reproduction of what was destroyed, on the basis of a report by Thomas Dinley in 1684. The roof dates from the end of the 19thC, and in contrast to the south aisle it lacks bosses. Chapel at the east end of the aisle and a baptistry at the west end.

North wall:- in the north-west a staircase leads to the church roof and is approached by three steps. A square-headed frame with a four-centred arch to the doorway and sunken spandrels; moulded and hollow chamfers. The north door has a high reveal with a four-centred head. Brasses of 1764, 1792 and two from the 20thC.

East wall:- one step up to a heavily decorated and curtained screen.

South wall:- three bays of a four-bay arcade in red sandstone with broad four-centred arches of two orders on clustered shafts and octagonal bases, restored by Bodley to the extent that it appears to be completely Victorian.

West wall:- nothing to record.

Fens or St Michael's chantry - General. Located at the east end of the north aisle. Contains an organ and the vestry. Stone floor, and one step up at a point which might suggest a sanctuary or altar. The fourth bay of the main arcade is on the south side and there is one 19thC brass on the east wall.

Nave - General. Floor and walls as north aisle. The roof consists of an arched ceiling of close-set trusses springing from wall plates above the arcades.

North wall:- as south wall of north aisle.

East wall:- a high two-centred chancel arch of two orders with engaged columns and capitals; hoodmould; all in red sandstone, and all 19thC. Two 19thC brasses.

South wall:- a four-bay arcade as on the north side.

West wall:- tower arch of three orders, all 19thC and in keeping with the nave arcades.

Chancel - General. Stone flagged floor includes a slab inscribed 'B.E. SEP 12 1656'; one step up to the sanctuary, one to the altar. Wall stonework exposed. three-bay roof with tie-beams and short king posts, all 19thC.

North wall:- one 20thC brass.

South wall:- one 20thC brass and a painting.

South aisle - General. Floor, walls and roof as the north aisle, but there are bosses at some of the intersections, representing unfinished work by the villagers after the fire. A chapel at the east end of the aisle.

North wall:- arcade as south wall of the nave.

East wall:- screen across to chapel.

South wall:- doorway reveal four-centred but appears to be of late 19thC date. There was formerly a south-west corner gallery set above the south door, and a staircase to it ran up the west wall below the present four-light window: shown on a painting hanging on the west wall. Two 20thC brasses and one 20thC marble memorial.

Bettisfield/Hanmer or Holy Trinity Chapel - General. One step up to this chapel, another to the altar. Dedicated to Arabella Charlotte Hanmer, widow of Thomas Hanmer, who died in 1862.

East wall:- brass to Arabella Hanmer.

South wall:- a small niche with chamfered edges, probably an aumbry.

Churchyard

A large well-maintained rectangular churchyard, the north and west sides fenced off. An additional burial ground was consecrated on the north side of the church in 1854, ground on the south-eastern side adjoining the vicarage in 1859 and ground fronting the Overton road in 1883. The churchyard slopes from the north to the south

Boundary:- railings on the west side a stone revetment wall on the south side and wooden fencing and hedge on the east. North of the church all sides have a brick wall.

Monuments:- mix of slabs, chests and crosses of 18th - 20thC date. Weathered earlier 18thC gravestones lie to the west of the church. The graveyard remains unlevelled and hummocky ground on the north side reflects unmarked graves. An early grave - a sandstone slab to Edward Lloyd of Halghton - dates from 1646 and is located in the angle between the south aisle and chancel. The 'Founders Tomb' is set beside the south wall of the south aisle and has three panels bearing coats of arms; it is claimed to be the tomb of the architect of the old church, which was built c.1490.

Furniture:- the churchyard cross is a slender octagonal red sandstone shaft on a stepped octagonal base; the original steps that led up to the cross were altered in 1850. The worn 14thC (Decorated) head depicts the Crucifixion on the west face, the Virgin and Child on the east, St Chad on the north, and a mitred bishop on the south. It has been suggested that the cross was removed by Parliamentarians and only reinstated in 1739, when a parish record accounts for 'setting ye cross right'. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (F98). A sundial with the Hanmer crest is set on a moulded and carinated pedestal and circular plinth near the south porch; copper gnomon and a plate inscribed 'Thos. South, Rich. Hinton, Churchwardens 1821'. Made by Dolland of London.

Earthworks:- a gentle fall in the level of the graveyard on the south side of the church presumably marks the 1883 extension.

Ancillary features:- the main south entrance has churchyard gates which were the former chancel gates and screen, presumably of 1720, and attributable to Robert Davies; set between a pair of ornamental sandstone pillars surmounted by lions. A wide tarmac path leading up to south porch. An eastern pair of iron gates lead to the 17thC vicarage and Church Square. The gateless west entrance from School Lane has a gravel and cobblestone path leading to the south door,

Vegetation:- two large yews located near the south-east corner of the church and a large oak on the north-west side. More recent yews planted along the northern boundary. Large fir trees to either side of the south path.

Sources consulted

Church guides 1996 & 1997
CPAT Field Visits 22 May 1996 and 12 February 1999
CPAT SMR
Crossley and Ridgway 1945, 189
Dineley 1888, 65
Faculty: St Asaph 1854 (NLW): consecration of additional burial ground
Faculty: St Asaph 1859 (NLW): consecration of additional burial ground
Faculty: St Asaph 1883 (NLW): consecration of additional burial ground
Faculty: St Asaph 1889 (NLW): rebuilding of church
Faculty: St Asaph 1935 (NLW): restoration of church
Flintshire County Record Office: Parish Records
Glynne 1885, 125
Gresham 1968, 133, 190
Hubbard 1986, 361
Lee 1876b
RCAHMW 1912, 108
Quinquennial Report
Thomas 1908, 441
Williams 1892
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 Hanmer 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 - chrismartin@cpat.org.uk, website - www.cpat.org.uk.

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