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THE MARBLE CHURCH, BODELWYDDAN

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 165595

Map Reference SJ07NW

Grid Reference SJ0039975460

Unitary (Local) Authority Denbighshire

Old County Flintshire

Community Bodelwyddan

Type of Site CHURCH

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period 19th Century

Site Description The church of St. Margaret is situated on the north side of the A55, at the south-east edge of the village. Known as the 'Marble Church', because of its lavish use of marble, it was erected by Lady Willoughby de Broke in memory of her husband, the 16th baron Willoughby de Broke. She laid the foundation stone in 1856 and the church was completed and consecrated in 1860. A large church, it was erected to the design of John Gibson of Westminster (1817-92), a prolific architect and a colleague of A W Pugin. He designed the church in the Decorated style with Geometric tracery, to a commission in which he appears to have had an unlimited budget for materials and workmanship, the whole costing £60,000.
The exterior walling material is selected local limestone, quarried in the hills to the south of Abergele. The general masonry is in snecked courses with a slightly picked finish, with raised pointing; featured masonry is in the same stone, thin jointed, chisel drafted or finely carved, and buttresses with offsets, including a pair of angle buttresses at the east end. The roofs are of slates trimmed to give a honeycomb pattern. The nave and chancel roofs are pierced by lucarnes and ventilators respectively. The church consists of five-bay nave with north and south aisles, open turrets with crocketed spirelets at its east end, a three-bay chancel and an axial west porch under a massive tower and a spire which reaches to over 60m. At the north side is a small octagonal vestry in the angle between chancel and aisle but otherwise the layout is symmetrical. The tower is of four stages divided by string courses. Diagonal buttresses with only slight offsets are surmounted by gargoyles. The spire is slender, octagonal and lightly crocketted, divided into four stages by bands of diagonal tracery; spirelets rise from the base stage.
The ashlar-lined interior is opulent with foliated and other carving , and with numerous marbles from various sources used as flooring, arcade piers, wallshafts etc, giving St Margaret's the name 'the Marble Church'. The 10-bay nave roof is of oak, with arch-braced roof trusses, the roof principals rising above smaller Belgian Red marble shafts. The aisle roofs are also in 10 bays, with alternately braced and unbraced trusses, and with short green marble shafts at the principal positions carried on limestone corbels. The pannelled chancel ceiling has large carved bosses, the roof principals having arch-braces with pierced foliation between them, over Red Griotte columns.
The communion rails, choirstalls, pulpit (by Thomas Earp), lectern (1876, by T F Kendal of Warwick) and the pews are all in carved oak. The font (1862), is by Peter Hollins of Birmingham. The altar, reredos and communion rails of the War Memorial Chapel in the south aisle are all in oak, to the design of W D Caröe, c1920. Stained glass is mostly by Ward and Hughes (c.1880 - 1910).

In the churchyard are some 80 burials of Canadian soldiers (NPRN 420171) who died in the repatriation camp at Kinmel Park in 1919, largely from influenza. They include the graves of those who died in the Kinmel Park riot of 1919.

Sources:
Extracts from Cadw Listing database.
E.Hubbard, Buildings of Wales: Clwyd (1986), p.324-5.

D.K.Leighton & B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 16 October 2015

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