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Church of St Beuno, Gwyddelwern

Description: Church of St Beuno

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 20 October 1966
Cadw Building ID: 676

OS Grid Coordinates: 307469, 346683
Latitude/Longitude: 53.0091, -3.3792

Location: Bryn Domwy, GwyddelwernDenbighshire LL21 9DH

Locality: Gwyddelwern
County: Denbighshire
Country: Wales
Postcode: LL21 9DH

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Listing Text

Location
In the village of Gwyddelwern, to west of the main road. Stone churchyard wall with modern gateway; former schoolroom near entrance.

History
The site of St Beuno's church is ancient. The circular shape of the churchyard suggests early origin; the first church is said to have been donated by a Welsh king in the C7. The 'ecclesia de Gwidelwern' is mentioned in 1254. From the late C13 there are references to members of St Asaph's cathedral beneficed in its capella of Gwydelwern; thereafter the vicars choral of the cathedral remained entitled to four fifths of the tithes.

The earliest fabric of the church is the C13/14 stonework of the priest's door, incorporated in the rebuild of the chancel (presumably in situ) in the C19. The chancel windows are a C19 restoration of the original C14 windows, with the incorporation of original material in the eastern pair. The nave walls, their original windows in Perpendicular style and the roofs may date from a major renovation following which Galfridus was inducted in 1538 'in vicariam ... ecclesie noviter erecte'. Before restoration in the C19 the similarity to St Mary's, Derwen, was remarked; St Beuno's then consisted of a nave with a western bell gable (since lost), a structurally distinct chancel (but without a chancel wall and arch), and a south porch. It was heavily restored in 1880 by Henry Kennedy of Bangor, who rebuilt the chancel from plinth level in a slatey local stone. The east window copies the original: it was described by Archdeacon Thomas as 'happily retained' although this remark must refer to design only as it is virtually all renewed. The old stonework of the priest's door was retained and blocked. Kennedy added a large south tower in a predominantly Perpendicular style carrying an Early English/Decorated style broach spire. The tower acts as a buttress to the badly leaning south wall of the nave. The church interior was repaved and reseated and given a chancel arch, and the west gallery was removed. The contractor was William Samuel of Wrexham, and the foundation stone of the new tower was laid by the Hon. Frances Georgiana Wynn of Rūg. The cost of the restoration was about £2600.

Some mediaeval stained glass of c1500, which had ceased to be in situ, was re-installed in the north east window of the chancel.

Interior
The former unity of nave and chancel has been severed by the large C19 chancel arch. The late mediaeval roof of the nave is of seven bays, with low-pitch arch-braced collar-beam trusses including v-struts and cusping above the collars. Two purlins each side with cusped windbraces. The roof of the chancel is similar but of three bays, except that the east bay, wider than the others, has a panelled and decoratively carved celure of barrel form. Decorative cornice in the chancel. A strong point of the C19 restoration is the decorative coloured quarry tile and encaustic tile flooring.

Plain C19 pews in the nave, with decorative iron lamp standards. Openwork C19 carved Gothic pulpit at left. Octagonal font and base carved in one piece. The west of the nave is separated as a vestry by an open screen. The C19 chancel arch is wide and four-centred, in sandstone, with nook columns each side in black marble. This arch lacked sufficient abutment and is now held by a large steel tie rod. The chancel screen is carved in oak with decorative cornice. One step up to the chancel. Simple C19 Gothic choirstalls and a prayer desk. The organ (an originally hand-pumped instrument, brought from Rūg in 1897) is at left. Two steps lead up to the sanctuary. The Communion rail is hardwood with a hinged lifting section at centre and decorative iron standards. Openwork C19 carved Gothic altar on one plinth step. Stone trefoil-headed C19 alcove and credence table built into the foot of the south window.

All the windows are in plain glass except the north east window of the chancel which contains panels of relocated mediaeval glass (probably originally from the east window), and the north east window of the nave which depicts Christ giving the keys to St Peter, in memory of the Rev. T Ll Williams, 1915.

On the chancel walls are Jacobean carved panels from the Ucheldre seat and a chronogram inscription. On the walls of the nave are a crucifix over the pulpit, a C19 carved panel of the Lord's Prayer, and a white marble memorial to the Rev. E Roberts [1839] and others; a Baroque memorial to William Humffreys of Maerdu [1718] and his wife [1744], with broken rounded armorial pediment, cherub beneath shelf, the memorial dated 1753. There is a table of incumbents since 1535 and drawings of the church before restoration. Near the door is a table of charitable bequests to the poor. In the porch there is a foundation stone laid by Frances Georgiana Wynn on 12th February 1880.

A dug-out mediaeval parish chest stands in the vestry.

Exterior
The restored mediaeval church consisting of nave and chancel is now dominated by the large C19 tower and stone spire standing to the south, the base of the tower being the porch. The surviving mediaeval masonry of the nave and chancel is local axe-dressed gritstone, with the C19 alterations and additions generally in a slatey local stone with freestone dressings. The west of the nave is strongly buttressed. Slate roofs with coped gables. Corbelled gabled kneelers at the feet of the gable copings, finial cross at the apex of the east gable. Corbel table over a string course at the eaves of both nave and chancel. Plinth with simple offset course at foot of the north, east and south walls. Large renovated Perpendicular east window in five lights with a transom at springing level; two side windows to each side of the chancel, each of two lights without ornamentation. The nave windows are more varied: at south a two light window with trefoiled heads west of the tower, a similar window centrally at north; at north and south the other two windows are of three-lights with trefoiled heads under segmental of four-centred arches. Small pointed west doorway but no west window.

The tower is of three storeys with string courses and crossed lighter coloured buttresses. The belfry lights are large, with mullions, transoms and lesser mullions, to form eight openings with louvres on each face; twin pointed heads with an outer arch of ogee form. Clock faces below the openings. The middle storey has three-light mullion-and-transom openings to south and east, each with a square label mould and a decorative apron of quatrefoil sinkings. The main door is to east, with four-centred arch under a square label moulding. Two-light small window to south. At base is an elaborate high plinth moulding. Staircase annex to west, semi-octagonal with stone roof and slit windows. The spire is octagonal with broaches, small blind traceried mid-height openings above a thin string course, and
has a metal cross.

Reason for Listing
A church retaining significant early fabric including fine late medieval roofs. The church owes much of its external character to the private patronage of the Newborough estate.

References
Sir S Glynne, Notes on Older Churches. Archaeologia Cambrensis (1884) pp279-89 (written 1849);
Lewis, Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833);
D R Thomas, History of Dioscese of St Asaph (1909) vol. I pp53, 58, 373; vol. II p153;
Royal Commission Inventory of Merioneth (1921) pp37-8;
CPAT PRN 16789; Report no. 312, Feb. 1999.
Lambeth Palace Library: ICBS file 15531.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Notes:
In the village of Gwyddelwern, to west of the main road. Stone churchyard wall with modern gateway; former schoolroom near entrance.

Source: Cadw

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.