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Wrexham Churches Survey

Church of St Bridget , Glyn Ceiriog

Glyn Ceiriog Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog in the county of Wrexham. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ2046938439.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16889 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Glyn Ceiriog Church, CPAT copyright photo CS950735.JPG

Summary

St Bridget's church is terraced into a steep hillside overlooking the valley of the Ceiriog some 6 miles west of Chirk. Rebuilding occurred at the end of the 18thC and again in the 19thC, and even the tower which has been claimed as medieval appears more likely to be of 18thC origin. Internally there is nothing which is demonstrably earlier than that first rebuilding, and indeed the oldest feature may be an incised stone re-used as a quoin in the chancel wall. The churchyard has an irregular shape and has no features clearly earlier than the 19thC.

The tower has been claimed as the only medieval survival but there is nothing to confirm this and the architectural details and fabric imply a late 18thC construction, contemporary with a few other diagnostic features in the church. While much of the masonry is certainly of this time the windows and porch must date to the 1838-9 remodelling.

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

History

The origin and early history of this church are unknown. Only the dedication (St Bridget = St Ffraid) suggests an early medieval beginning. In the Middle Ages it was certainly a chapelry to Llangollen and with the mother church was appropriated to the Cistercian abbey of Valle Crucis in the 13thC.

In the Taxatio of 1291 it is probably to be equated with the 'Ecclia de Llanfanfreit' which was valued at 3 6s 8d, and in 1535 the Valor Ecclesiasticus records it as 'Capella de Llansanfraid'.

The church was rebuilt about 1790 and remodelled in 1838-9, at the expense of Viscount Dungannon with its architecture in the Decorated style.

In 1853 Glynne found a church 'presenting scarcely any object of interest', the west tower alone retaining some of its character. The windows were new, and internally the chancel still had pews; the font bowl had been replaced.

The panelled ceiling over the sanctuary was added in 1887, seats replaced the pews, a new pulpit and lectern provided, and the outer walls covered with roughcast plaster.

In 1909 external drainage was undertaken.

Architecture

Glyn Ceiriog church (otherwise known as Llansantffraid Glyn Ceiriog) comprises a broad nave and chancel in one, a west tower, a south porch near the south-west corner and a vestry against the north side of the chancel. It is oriented fractionally south of east. For descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted for the church, though not for the churchyard.

Fabrics:- 'A', the only discernible fabric, consists of slabs and some blocks of shale in colours ranging from off-white through grey to brown, randomly coursed and small to medium in size; large blocks selected for quoins. Occasional waterworn stones and even the odd brick fragment incorporated into the fabric.

Roof:- slates with crested ridge tiles in red clay, on both the body of church and the porch. Stone cross finial at east end.

Drainage:- no clear evidence on the south side though it is possible that a drain exists here. At west end and continuing around north is a deep gutter up to 4m deep, a response to the steeply sloping hillside into which the church has been terraced.

Exterior

Tower - General. Fabric appears to be 'A', though the pointing is heavier, particularly on upper storeys. Battered base visible in gutter on north and west. Tower of three stages, each inset. Only the top stage has a projecting string course (in 19thC freestone) and above this is a battlemented parapet.

North wall:- plain with no distinctive features. West wall of nave does appear to butt against it.

East wall:- not visible from ground level.

South wall:- at ground level a round-headed doorway with chamfered dressings and above this is a narrow Victorian lancet. The third stage carries a louvred belfry window with a two-centred arch and hoodmould.

West wall:- a round-headed window with concave mouldings and projecting sill in the second stage; its dressings are similar to the Victorian ones elsewhere on the church. Several squared-off blocks of sandstone butt up against the window dressings, perhaps re-used from an earlier, medieval window? Original lead downpipes still in situ.

Nave and chancel - General. Visible in the gutter on the north side, the walls of the nave drop to the same depth as those of tower.

North wall:- plain but for one window which is difficult of access, but is the same as those in the south wall except for its smaller dimensions.

East wall:- dominated by a large four-light Perpendicular-style window, the lights with two-centred cinquefoiled heads, panel lights and a quatrefoil above; hoodmould with simple dogs-leg stops. Window shows signs of insertion. Gable above the window has a concrete render coat. Also a flat-topped basal plinth which emerges beneath the window and because of the slope reaches a height of 0.5m at the south-east corner. A decorated freestone block re-used as a quoin in north-east angle: incised conjoined circles.

South wall:- three windows each with two cusped lights under a two-centred head and a hoodmould with simple stops. Some of the masonry has traces of render adhering. Windows show signs of insertion and central window may have earlier jambstones re-used. Plinth continues, but west of the porch it is below the present ground level and is not horizontal.

West wall:- single light windows with cusped, two-centred heads and hoodmoulds, to either side of tower. Signs of insertion.

Porch - General. In Fabric 'A' but raised on a freestone plinth; diagonal buttresses.

East wall:- single-light window with heavily moulded jambs in yellow sandstone. No hoodmould.

South wall:- two-centred arched doorway with mouldings the same as the windows but a hoodmould which could be a later addition. Datestone of 1838 above the entrance.

Vestry - General. In 'A'. North wall has a zone of brick which may represent a former window. Single light in east wall with hollowed chamfers, all in yellow freestone.

Interior

Porch - General. Interior two steps up from churchyard. Slab floor, walls plastered and painted, and simple pitched roof with exposed rafters.

North wall:- two-centred arched doorway, chamfered dressings.

East and west walls:- slightly splayed windows with slate benches set into walls beneath.

Tower - General. Floor of wooden blocks. Walls plastered and painted. Embrasure of doorway on south is round-headed as on the outside. On the east side a large tower arch, now filled in, although changes in the thickness of the walling indicate that it was originally open. On the north side a wooden stair gives access to the nave gallery through a wooden door set to one side in the top of the large but plain round-headed tower arch. A second door of similar form on the other side of the arch leads from the gallery to the first floor of the tower.

Nave - General. Floor carpeted including under benches which are not raised on plinths. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of three bays with two more over chancel and sanctuary: collar trusses are supported on large arch braces, with king and raking struts above; rafters and purlins with unpainted wooden panelling.

North wall:- one splayed window.

South wall:- two splayed windows.

West wall:- against the wall, a gallery with open benches, some rough and old, and a front attributable to the late 18thC rebuilding. The tower arch on this side has its tympanum filled with blank, cusped lights, and a hoodmould rests on corbel heads.

Chancel - General. One step up to the chancel, two to the sanctuary. Victorian encaustic tiles in chancel and mosaic in sanctuary, though carpet over the former. Walls as nave. Above, the most easterly bay has a wagon roof with foliage on the bosses, and the truss on the west side of this has an arch-braced tie-beam with king and queens struts, and raking struts above the collar; pieces of shaped wood stuck on to struts to give cusped effect.

North wall:- door to vestry; two marble mural tablets of 1837 and 1839.

East wall:- splayed east window.

South wall:- splayed window, a marble memorial recording ten members of the Jones family, a 20thC slate tablet, and an indecipherable brass, probably 18thC.

Churchyard

The churchyard is small and set on steeply shelving hillside. That part of it behind the church (to the north) is overgrown and inaccessible though it appears to have been used in the past for burial; the rest is well maintained. Originally polygonal in shape with virtually no evidence of curvilinearity, it has been extended eastward twice, the first time probably very early in the 20thC.

Boundary:- a stone retaining wall, 2m or so high around the south, continues as an ordinary wall around the west. On the east, only the base of the wall, 0.3m high, remains though with the extension of the churchyard it no longer serves any purpose.

Monuments:- stones are sparse around the south side and all 19thC. A few modern gravemarkers are set to the south-west of the church, and to the east there are indications that the churchyard has been cleared.

Furniture:- none.

Earthworks:- none.

Ancillary features:- wrought iron gates on the south, with an iron arch over, give access via a concrete path and steps to the porch.

Vegetation:- yews around the southern edge, continuing around former eastern side - none of any great age.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 9 October 1997
Faculty: St Asaph 1886 (NLW): restoration of church
Glynne 1884, 190
Hubbard 1986, 168
Lloyd Williams and Underwood 1872 pl 45
Quinquennial Report 1986
Quinquennial Report 1994
Ridgway 1997, 188
Thomas 1911, 293
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 Glyn Ceiriog 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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