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Wrexham Churches Survey

Church of St Dunawd , Bangor Is-y-coed

Bangor Is-y-coed Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Bangor Is-y-Coed in the county of Wrexham. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ3887545404.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16706 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Bangor Is-y-coed Church, CPAT copyright photo 463-20.JPG

Summary

The church of St Dunawd probably occupies the site of a 6thC monastery on the east bank of the River Dee. The present building dates from the 14thC but saw considerable reconstruction including its tower in 1726, and restoration work in 1868 and 1877. Fittings include a medieval sepulchral slab, beams from the rood screen, font of c.1500, several 18thC memorials and a painting of St Dunawd depicted with cope, mitre and crosier, a replica of an original wall painting, now lost. It is set in a rectangular churchyard with a few 18thC monuments remaining.

Original building from the 14thC of which the arcades survive and also the west wall of the nave. The chancel is claimed to have been added or rebuilt in the 15thC, but there is evidence including the east window with its (renewed) reticulated tracery that it too was originally 14thC.

Tower completely rebuilt in 1726/7, necessitating the shortening of the nave at the west end. Arch of the arcade on the north side truncated and that on the south side rebuilt. South aisle rebuilt at this time, and the north aisle in 1832.

South aisle was partly rebuilt again in 1868-9, and a south porch added in 1877.

The vestry and organ chamber as an eastern extension to the north aisle are from 1913.

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 Dunawd who founded a monastery at Bangor Is-y-coed in the 6thC. Its exact site is unknown but it is possible that part of what was probably a quite extensive monastic site may be occupied by the church and churchyard.

The church does not appear in the Norwich and Lincoln Taxations of the 13thC, but is recorded in the Valor Ecclesiasticus in 1535 where it was included with Overton and Worthenbury.

In 1660, the chancel was levelled and made even with the main body of the church and the stalls were removed, in accord with an Ordinance of Parliament from 1643.

Restoration work from 1723 by Richard Trubshaw of Staffordshire included the construction of the tower and the rebuilding of the south aisle. The overall cost seems to have been 2427.

Prior to the creation of the Diocese of Chester in 1541, Bangor belonged to the Diocese of Lichfield. In 1726 part of the Deanery of Bangor including this church together with Worthenbury, Overton and Hanmer became part of the Diocese of Chester and by 1844 it was all under Chester. In 1849, the Deanery was transferred to St Asaph.

A sketch by Moses Griffith from 1782 depicts the earlier and shorter north aisle with windows rising into dormers and a north porch which projected further than the aisle.

In 1832 work on the church included the rebuilding of the north aisle to the full length of the nave.

The south aisle was partly rebuilt in 1868-9 by Douglas of Chester and extended westwards to form a baptistry. The chancel was also restored and the panelled ceiling above the sanctuary was uncovered.

Archdeacon Thomas' record which must precede the restoration of 1876 claimed that the rood beam was still in place at the west end of the nave.

During the 1876-7 restoration work by Douglas, the west end gallery was removed, the church was reseated with the present open oak benches; the pulpit, organ and screen date to this restoration also. The porch was added by the rector in memory of his wife and parts of the roofs were repaired. Tombs and stones were levelled in the churchyard where necessary.

Further restoration in 1913 included the eastern extension of the north aisle to form a new vestry and organ chamber according to plans by Douglas, Minshull and Muspratt of Chester. The screens were erected around the vestry and organ chamber, the wooden ceiling was removed from the north aisle and the timbers exposed, the plaster was stripped off the north aisle and chancel. A new floor was put in the belfry for ringers, doors and windows were repaired, and clock casing was installed for the weights. The oak panelling was placed around the choir stalls and reading desk, chancel screen erected and new altar rails and font cover were introduced. The sanctuary panelling is also from this time.

The north aisle wall appears to have been replastered sometime in 1947, and masonry in the north aisle was repaired in 1975.

Architecture

The church consists of a nave and chancel, north and south aisles, a west tower, a north porch and a vestry at the east end of the north aisle. It is oriented west-south-west/east-north-east but for the purposes of description in this report 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted.

Fabrics:- 'A' is a fine-grained, soft, red sandstone rubble in medium to large blocks and slabs; considerable weathering; coursed. 'B', is of quarry-cut red sandstone; medium to large blocks which are rough faced; coursed. 'C' is fine-grained, quarry-cut red sandstone ashlar, more regular than 'A' but otherwise very similar; coursed.

'A' from c.1300 and also from the 18thC, 'B' is generally 19thC, 'C' dates from 1877 and 1913.

Roofs:- slates with black ceramic ridge tiles, though the vestry has a concrete roof with asphalt covering. Cross finials to porch and chancel, the latter broken.

Drainage:- guttering and downspouts discharge into gullies. The ground has been dug out along the south aisle wall for new soakaways to be put in; there are cobbles along the north wall as far as the vestry and gravel around the west side.

Exterior

Tower - General. A three-stage tower constructed in c.1723 in 'A'. There is a plinth formed by three courses of yellow sandstone which is almost flat-topped; and the three stages are separated by yellow sandstone string courses also of blocks. Above the uppermost string course is an inset parapet surmounted by baluster pinnacles at the corners with wrought iron weathervanes, and smaller, ball finials centrally placed along each wall. Clasping pilaster buttresses in buff-yellow sandstone. A flat roof with a flag pole.

North wall:- the first stage has a round window in buff-yellow freestone with four projecting key stones, and a wooden-framed light with a grille over, the second stage a clock face, and the third stage a round-headed, louvred belfry window with a prominent keystone in the arch.

East wall:- abuts nave, the latter's roof rising to more than half way up the second stage. A standard belfry window.

South wall:- the first stage is abutted by a room added on to the west end of the south aisle and above this is a round window as on the north side, the second stage lacks features, and the third stage has a standard belfry window.

West wall:- the first stage has a round-headed doorway with projecting keystone and imposts; the doors have lights with grilles over, and the tympanum light is also protected. The second stage has a round window with a grille of radiating iron spokes, and the third stage has a standard belfry window.

Boiler room:- in the north-west corner between the tower and north aisle and constructed in mock sandstone breeze blocks. It is battlemented and there are double doors in the north wall. A chimney rises above the west wall of the north aisle on the inside of the battlements.

North porch - General. In 'C', an addition to the westernmost bay of the north aisle in 1877.

North wall:- a carved, square-headed opening with a decorated tie-beam resting on both the walls and on timber wall-posts with carved braces or supporters; a tympanum with vertical studs and plaster infill. The gable has decorated barge boards. Iron gates with gilt terminals.

East and west walls:- square-headed windows containing pairs of cinquefoiled, ogee-headed lights with grilles over. Both side walls are slightly splayed.

North aisle - General. Constructed in 1832 in 'B', though later repair work. A vestry in 'C' from 1913 adjoins the east end but the wall face and roof show as continuous elements, the latter surmounted by a battlemented parapet and beneath this a string course with a hollowed soffit. A basal plinth, projecting only slightly, is formed by one course of red sandstone.

North wall:- four stepped buttresses, with an angle buttress at the north-west corner dividing it into four bays with the porch occupying the first bay at the west end. The remaining three bays each contain a window with a peaked four-centred arch with hoodmould and simple stops over three lancet lights with six small tracery lights above; the jambs have hollow chamfers.

West wall:- the masonry contains blocks of yellow sandstone which forms patching around the window, which is of the same design as those in the north wall.

Vestry - General. In 'C'-type masonry (though the blocks are slightly larger than those for the porch) and battlemented and aligned with the north aisle.

North wall:- two square-headed windows with a continuous label, each with two cusped lights in the same style as the south chancel window. To the west of these a basket-headed doorway with chamfered jambs. A diagonal buttress at the north-east corner.

East wall:- a square-framed window containing two cusped, ogee-headed lights from an earlier window which has been re-sited, though the dressings may well all have been renewed.

Nave - General. Externally visible only at the west end.

West wall:- in fabric 'A' but more weathered than the tower. Visible on the south side of the tower with the south-west angle room abutting it.

Chancel - General. In 'A' with some yellow sandstone and narrow blocks of red sandstone. Angle buttresses which at lower levels could be original but higher up are in ashlar.

North wall:- a Perpendicular four-centred window in red sandstone with hoodmould and stops of different forms contains four lancets with six round-headed tracery lights above; the jambs have hollow chamfers; the mullions, tracery and most of the arch stones have been renewed leaving a few original dressings. Buttress at north-east corner.

East wall:- the lower part of the wall is in 'A', but otherwise 'C' and some small slabs as well. The east window has a two-centred arch, five cusped, ogee-headed lights, reticulated tracery, and a hoodmould with worn head-stops. None of the dressings appear to be original.

South wall:- diagonal buttress at the south-east corner and a central buttress in the wall which appears to have been added in the 19thC (a similar buttress was removed from the north wall when the vestry was constructed in 1913). East of the buttress is a four-centred window in buff-yellow sandstone with a broken, yellow sandstone hoodmould and worn stops, one of which may have been a head. It contains four cusped, two-centred lights, and waisted tracery; some of this window is probably original but it is difficult to determine how much. The large triangular head of an 1869 grave is placed against the wall below the window. West of the buttress is a disused square-headed priest's door which is blocked on the inside; the lintel and some of the jambs have been renewed, but the lower jambstones on the west look to be original. West again is a square-headed window containing two cusped, ogee-headed lights: the mullions have been renewed but the light heads and many of the jambstones are original. Considerable repair work has taken place on the south wall, particularly over the blocked doorway.

South aisle - General. Constructed in 'A' with 19thC and more recent repair work in red sandstone ashlar. A buff-yellow sandstone course forms a projecting foundation in the soakaway trench along the wall.

East wall:- no windows.

South wall:- four square-headed windows the end ones with three lights, the central ones with four lights. All the lights are cusped and two-centred but the tracery lights vary between quatrefoils and multifoils. There is a 19thC buttress between windows three and four.

West wall:- some repair to the wall face. A square-headed window with hoodmould over three lights, comparable with the most easterly in the south wall.

South-west corner room - in angle between tower and south aisle. Battlemented parapet.

South wall:- two-centred arch a over single planked door.

Interior

Porch - General. Open porch with 19thC tile and marble floor, bare walls and a planked ceiling above exposed rafters and through purlins.

East wall:- slatted bench along wall.

South wall:- a chamfered, four-centred 'Tudor' doorway of three orders with hollow-moulded chamfers; a label above the door 'dog-legs' up to surround an 1832 datestone.

West wall:- as east wall.

Tower - General. Ground floor acts as ringing chamber. A woodblock floor, bare stone walls showing long linear blocks of red sandstone, and a timber ceiling. The second stage clock chamber has a timber-boarded floor, brick walls and a trap door with ladder to the similar bell chamber above.

North wall:- deep reveal for the round window has the inner face turned in brick, and the soffit plastered over. Below this is a round-headed alcove.

East wall:- a three-centred arch with the soffit of the reveal wholly turned in brick. In the south-east angle is the tower stair: a round-headed doorway without chamfered jambs. Above this at a height of about 3m is another doorway indicating the former presence of another floor; sockets in the walls for its joists.

South wall:- window as in the north wall. A brass plaque records the re-hanging of the bells in 1946. Also a wooden board, perhaps 18thC, with a verse commencing 'If that to ring you do come here, you must ring well with hands and ear...'.

West wall:- a three-centred reveal to the west door has its arch in red brick.

North aisle - General. Stone flagged floor with some concrete blocks for repairs; heating grilles; flush plank flooring beneath the benches. Walls bare except for north wall which is plastered. Roof of four bays with four moulded tie-beams supported on short wall posts and arch braces which spring from wooden corbels. Each bay consists of 6 plain panels with ribbed joists. The ceiling is low, effectively resting on the tops of the arches of the north arcade.

North wall:- a peaked, four-centred arch to the north doorway reveal. Marble memorials of 1758, 1818, 1845 and 1852 and a painting of St Dunawd.

East wall:- a wide two-centred red sandstone arch to the 1913 vestry, with chamfered responds and engaged, moulded capitals; the south respond also has a moulded jamb, probably re-used from a window. Panelling across the lower part of the archway. One 20thC marble memorial on the wall.

South wall:- four-bay arcade consisting of chamfered, two-centred, red sandstone arches supported by octagonal piers and moulded capitals in Decorated style; a continuous hoodmould. It originally continued beyond its present length for a small part of a fifth arch is visible at the west end, no more than 30cm separating the pier from the west wall. Interesting masons' marks on the dressed stone.

West wall:- a large board records the enlargement of the church in 1832, and includes a list of donors.

Vestry - General. Concrete floor carpetted over, bare walls and a concrete ceiling on joists. A large part of this compartment of the church is occupied by the organ. On the south side are three steps up to the chancel. No sign of any early stonework.

North and east walls:- nothing to note.

South wall:- a four-centred arch to chancel fitted with a wooden parclose screen.

Nave - General. Stone flagged floor, heavily worn at the back of the church, with carpetted central aisle and benches on flush plank floors; underfloor heating ducts around the seating area covered with cast iron grilles. Bare stonework to the walls. Continuous roof to nave and chancel of twelve arch-braced trusses with cusped struts and principals, springing from north and south wallplates which rest not only on the wall tops but also on wooden corbels; seven bays to the nave; through rafters and purlins with three tiers of cusped windbraces, except in the easternmost bay of the nave. Three iron tie-rods span the nave.

North wall:- the arcade (for which see above) has a continuous hooodmould, though the stop is a square block, probably 19thC. In the last two bays to the east the wallplate has slots for timbers (nothing comparable on the south side). The moulding on the wallplate of this side of the nave is different from its counterpart on the opposite side. Nor are they symmetrical for the wall plate projects slightly further on the south side so the corbels are broader. The significance of this has not been ascertained.

East wall:- three steps up to the chancel with a modern wooden screen.

South wall:- arcade as on the north side, but originally of only three bays for the most westerly has been added; it has crisper stonework and there are no mason's marks. Also the western half of the third bay has been rebuilt too as was the intervening pillar.

West wall:- a round-headed tower arch turned in buff-yellow sandstone blocks, over a pair of panelled doors to the tower. Former reredos now sited above the tower door. Benefaction boards to either side of the door, and two restoration brasses of 1877 and 1913, and a 20thC memorial brass.

Chancel - General. 19thC tiled floor with heating grilles; longitudinal choir stalls on planked floors; encaustic tiles in the sanctuary which is two steps higher than the chancel. Chancel walls inset slightly from the line of the nave arcade, but probably refaced with ashlar in the 19thC. Wood panelling on north and south walls continue round to form reredos at east end. Four bays to roof and a fifth, canopied bay above the sanctuary - this consists of seven curving tiers each one with six traceried panels with bands of leaf trail on the main horizontals. This part of the chancel roof is presumed to be 15thC.

North wall:- four-centred arch to vestry with hoodmould. Marble memorials of 1798, 1811 and 1825.

East wall:- three patches of black script visible to the north and south sides of the east window, and two small patches with colour, part of a frame.

South wall:- one marble memorial of 1741/1777, one 19thC brass and four 19thC marble memorials.

South aisle - General. Here restoration work by Douglas in 1877 in neo-Perpendicular style replaced the earlier work by Trubshaw. Douglas extended the aisle westwards, adding a fourth bay to the arcade and forming the baptistry at the west end. At the east end is a Lady Chapel created in 1933 with a planked floor. The floor of the south aisle is as in the north aisle except for a black and white tiled floor to the baptistry. Bare stonework to the walls. A low pitched, lean-to roof, resting on five tie-beams with bracing; corbels on the south side, while on the north the tie-beams are set into the walls, except for a corbel at the extreme west end.

North wall:- arcade as nave.

East wall:- Lady Chapel altar and modern oak reredos set against the wall.

South wall:- one banner in a glass-fronted frame, two brasses of the 19thC and 20thC, one marble of the 20thC and a wooden World War One memorial.

West wall:- three-light window with a storage area beneath it.

Churchyard

A rectangular churchyard, on level ground, on the east bank of the River Dee within the centre of the village. The churchyard shows little modern clearance and is a little overgrown in parts. An additional burial ground was purchased and consecrated in 1885. The excavation of bones in 1986 behind the village hall on the south-east side of the churchyard suggests that earlier burials were extended in that direction.

Boundary:- railings on the western side above the riverbank; sandstone wall surmounted by railings on the north and east; railings form the south boundary with adjoining properties.

Monuments:- tombs and stones were levelled in the churchyard where necessary as part of the 1876-7 restoration work in the immediate area of the church. A mix of slabs, pillars, table tombs and crosses, unevenly placed on all sides of the churchyard and dating from the 18thC to the 20thC. 1990s burials line the east side of the new north path with 18thC to 20thC slabs in the area behind them. There are a large number of chest tombs on the south side of the church, including ones of 1770 (with a copper plate) and 1783. On the north side of the chancel a monument of 1751. Modern graves, randomly placed, to the north and south of the church.

Furniture:- the octagonal pillar, top and base of a sundial, all heavily moulded; dial and gnomon have gone. To the north of the chancel.

Earthworks:- the churchyard is lower than the river bank on the west side, but raised by 0.5m on the east and no more than 0.8m on the north. Uneven surface particularly on the south.

Ancillary features:- lychgate on red brick plinths supporting oak timbers. Quotes from Hebrews on the north and south tie-beams, and a worn sandstone tablet set into the east plinth records its erection as a memorial to Robert Webster in 1883. The main entrance is through this lychgate in the north wall and a new tarmac path leads up to the north porch. The path has a cobblestone boundary on its west side; cobblestones too outside the west tower door and alongside the base of the north aisle suggesting that these were the early paths. A second path leads in from an iron gate at the north-east corner to the vestry door and continues west to the north porch; a rough gravel path continues to the tower door. A short flight of steps leads up to a single iron gate to the river bank off this south-west corner. Brick-built store/shed against the west boundary, south of the church.

Vegetation:- nine poplar trees well inside the walled boundary on the east and north; others have been cut down; two 19thC clipped yews by the north aisle and chancel, and several holly trees and bushes.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings 1997
CPAT Field Visit 21 May 1996 and 29 January 1999
CPAT SMR
Crossley and Ridgway 1945, 185
Faculty: St Asaph 1876 (NLW): restoration of the church and levelling of churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1913 (NLW): restoration of the church
Gresham 1968, 96, 134
Hubbard 1986, 320
Pratt 1992
RCAHMW 1912, 104
Quinquennial Report 1986
Thomas 1908, 429
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 Bangor Is-y-coed 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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