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Wrexham Churches Survey

Church of St Mary , Whitewell

Whitewell Church is in the Diocese of Chester, in the community of Isycoed in the county of Wrexham. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ4949641397.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16974 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Whitewell Church, CPAT copyright photo 463-07.JPG


St Mary's is a whitewashed brick church which was a former chapel of ease to Malpas in Cheshire, and it remains the only Welsh church in the diocese of Chester. The present structure of 1830 replaced a timber-framed building and retains some re-used panelling and timbers in the west end gallery. There is a memorial tablet of 1782 by Van der Hagen and another of 1696 which was brought from a church at Whitchurch in 1841.

Brick built church of 1830.

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


This was formerly the site of a chapel of ease in the Parish of Malpas, Cheshire, and as such is known to have been in use by 1570. The present church, however, is not necessarily on the same site, and it has been claimed that two wells to the south of the church site mark the original location.

The present structure replaced a timber-framed church with a west bell turret and square-headed windows which was demolished in 1830, the benefactor being Miss Marianne Congreve of Iscoed Park. A monument to her father, who was buried in the grounds of the Hall, dates to 1782.

Stone windows were introduced, possibly in 1872 and by R. Dodson.

Whitewell was elevated to the status of parish church in 1885.

A spire and clock were added in 1898.


The church is of cruciform plan with a tower at the west end of the nave. It is oriented fractionally south of due west.

Fabric: 'A' is red brick, but whitewashed; the dressings are painted.

Roof:- slates with lead along the ridges.

Drainage:- modern guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. There is a narrow drainage trench around the church, interrupted only by tramac paths.

As this is a wholly 19thC structure the following report is a summary only.


Tower - General. Three-stage tower with a string course which is no more than a square-sectioned projection between the second and third stages. Stepped, diagonal north-west and south-west buttresses. The second stage contains the clock chamber, the third the belfry. Shingled splay-footed spire over the tower rising to a ball finial and a wrought iron weathervane which was added in 1898.

North wall:- a square-headed slit window lights the porch. Belfry window with a two-centred arch turned in brick and with louvred lights.

East wall:- standard belfry window.

South wall: the tower's spiral staircase protrudes from this wall. There is a standard belfry window and a clock face.

West wall:- main entrance to the church through a four-centred arch and jambs with wave moulding. In the second stage is a two-light wooden-framed window to the gallery. Standard belfry window.

Nave - General. A basal plinth of three to four courses of brickwork, projecting in places, is painted black and is continuous around all the walls. A dentilation course below the eaves.

North wall:- two two-light windows with sills in stone and brick voussoirs from 1872, but retaining Y-tracery wooden windows. Flanked by stepped buttresses.

South wall:- as north wall.

North transept - General. Diagonal buttresses at the north-east and north-west angles. In the north wall one squat four-centred window with three short lights to the organ gallery. In the east wall a standard two-light window. Cobblestones are laid outside the north door which has a four-centred arch and a planked door with a boarded tympanum above.

West wall:- two standard windows separated by a stepped buttress.

Vestry - General. In the angle of the north wall of the chancel and the east wall of the north transept. In the east wall is the doorway with a square-headed frame. A small square window with segmental head is set in the north wall. A stepped buttress in the angle between the north wall and the east wall of the transept.

Chancel - General. The east wall has a window with three lights in intersecting Y-tracery, a hoodmould and floriate stops, all in stone. The south wall has a two-light window with hoodmould and floriated stops. A low brick boiler house with corrugated roof is set into the angle formed by the south wall of the chancel and the east wall of the south transept. Stepped buttress against the north wall and the side of the vestry.

South transept - General. The south wall has a three-light window with hoodmould and floriate stops, again all in stone. Nothing in the east and west walls.


Tower - General. Encaustic tiled entrance porch in bottom stage of tower. Walls plastered and painted. Spiral staircase in south wall gives access to the west gallery and an iron-runged ladder from this leads to the bells. Ceiling of joists and rafters.

Nave - General. One step down from the tower to a decorated tile floor; benches on raised wooden planking. Plastered and painted walls. Roof to all parts has braced collar trusses supported on stone corbels, purlins, rafters and, in most places, windbraces.

North wall:- one 20thC brass and one 20thC marble memorial.

South wall:- marble memorial of 1696.

West wall:- the tower arch has wave moulding on both faces; a commemorative brass of 1898 refers to the clock and bell; one 20thC brass. Above these is a west gallery supported on a tie-beam and accessed from the tower staircase; box pews in the gallery.

Crossing - General. Four two-centred arches spring from the walls to support the roof, and there is a large decorative central boss.

North transept - General. Floor, walls and roof as nave. The transept contains the organ gallery which is supported on tie-beams and two cast iron columns. Access via a dog-leg staircase at the north end of the transept. A 20thC slate memorial on the east wall.

Chancel - General. Encaustic tiled floor, longitudinal choir stalls on wooden planking, and carpetted sanctuary; one step up to the chancel and a further one to the sanctuary. Walls as nave and panelling that incorporates material from the earlier chapel. A rib-vaulted ceiling at the junction of the transepts.

North wall:- doorway to the vestry and one 20thC marble memorial and a 20thC brass on the north wall.

East wall:- memorials of 1782 and 1809.

South wall:- a window brass of the 19thC and wooden memorial of the 20thC.

Vestry - General. One step down from the chancel. Sketches of the chapel taken down in 1829 or 1830 on the west wall, and also a First World War memorial.

South transept - General. Floor, walls and roof as nave.

East wall:- marble memorial of 1927.

South wall:- two 20thC window brasses, and a 20thC marble memorial.

West wall:- marble memorials of 1852 and 1855 and two 19thC brasses.


An elongated churchyard, broadly rectilinear, extended on the east side, probably in the late 1880s.

Boundary:- a fence on the south with a gully beyond it. Metal fence on the north and a hedge on the west.

Monuments:- modern burials in the eastern extension. A slab on the east side is of 1812, the earliest memorial seen.

Earthworks:- a scarp curving round to the east of the church may mark the original east boundary. On the south side a drop of 1.5m to the field beyond.

Ancillary features:- main entrance through a pair of panelled oak gates, from 1958. A tarmac path leads up to the tower and continues to the new burial ground. Another wooden gate in the north-west corner.

Vegetation:- yews to the north, south and east of the church. The earlier churchyard is defined by mature yews on the north and east.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visits: 29 June 1996 and 12 February 1999
Flintshire County Record Office: 1820 sketch of chapel
Flintshire County Record Office: D/IP/208 (1887) plan of proposed churchyard extension
Hubbard 1986, 379
Lee 1876a
RCAHMW 1912, 110
Winchester 1985
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 Whitewell Church may also be found on the Chester 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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