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St Grwst's Church, Llanrwst

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Map ReferenceSH76SE
Grid ReferenceSH7974161616
Unitary (Local) AuthorityConwy
Old CountyDenbighshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH

1. The nave of St Grwst's church, Llanrwst was built in the 15th century. The church has a 19th century tower and north aisle. An attached chapel was added by Sir John Wynn in the 17th century with fittings in the 'Artisan Renaissance' style including: panelled walls, low-pitched camber-beam roof and a 13th century coffin alleged to be that of Llewelyn the Great. The church is constructed of grey rubble and has a castellated tower of roughly coursed rubble and a chapel of dark grey stone; all with limestone dressings. It has an exceptional fifteenth to sixteenth century lofted rood screen with carved oak emblems.

Source: CADW listed buildings database.

RCAHMW, 7 November 2007.

2. Llanrwst Church was constructed in the late fifteenth century, possible during the 1470s after the burning of the town. In 1633?4, Gwydir Chapel was added to the south-east corner of the church by Richard Wynn of Gwydir (see NPRN 26555). In the early-nineteenth century a tower was added to the west, replacing an earlier bellcote, while a restoration of 1882?4 by Paley and Austin added a northern aisle. The southern porch was also rebuilt during the nineteenth century.

The church is constructed of grey rubble with pale limestone dressings and has a structurally undivided nave and chancel. The three-storey western tower is castellated with two louvered windows to each face of the bell stage, a western cross finial and diagonal buttresses. The porch has a timbered gable and contains a gothic arched entrance doorway. The northern aisle is late-Perpendicular in style with stepped buttresses between windows. The eastern gable end of the nave has a fifteenth-century window with panel tracery at the top. At the south-east corner, Gwydir Chapel is of coursed dark-grey stone in the late-Perpendicular style with crenelated parapets, finials at the corners and stepped buttresses between large windows with panel tracery above.

Internally, the nave and chancel are divided by a late-fifteenth- or early-sixteenth-century, twelve-bay rood screen with loft, richly decorated with vines, oak leaves and acorns. The five bays on either side of a square-headed doorway have traceried heads, including one decorated with the instruments of the Passion and another with pigs eating acorns. It reportedly also formerly contained a wooden image of the saint (for a detailed description of the Church see Crossley 1946, 34?39). The nave has a notable fifteenth-century arch-braced roof and there is a similar roof which dates from the 1880s in the north aisle. The font is square on a later stem.

Gwydir Chapel retains seventeenth-century fixtures including a camber-beam roof decorated with decorative bosses and heraldry. The walls are panelled, with screenwork in a broad stone arch separating the chapel from the church with a sculpture of an eagle over the door. The stalls are decorated with patterns in round-headed arches and head finials. The chapel contains several notable memorials including a pair of richly decorated obelisks to John (d. 1627) and Sydney Wynn, a large memorial tablet recording the building of the chapel, an infant on a table (Sidney Wynn, d. 1639), and several lozenge shaped brasses.

Particularly notable are two stone coffins. One displays the effigy of a knight reposed on a cushion with a lion at his feet and carries the inscription: HIC IACET HOWELL COYTMOR AP GRUFF. VACHAN AP GRIFF ARM. Near the door is a medieval stone coffin, its sides ornamented with simple quatrefoils, said to be the tomb of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth (d. 1240), which was likely brought to the chapel after the dissolution of Maenan Abbey (NPRN 16475), although the RCAHMW Inventory of Denbighshire (1914) states that it likely dates from fifty to one hundred years later.

(Sources: S. Baring-Gould and John Fisher, The Lives of the British Saints (London: Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion, 1911), III: p. 150; RCAHMW, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire: IV. County of Denbigh (London: HMSO, 1914), pp. 147?48; Fred H. Crossley, `Screens, Lofts and Stalls Situated in Wales and Monmouthshire, Part Four?, Archaeologia Cambrensis, XCIX (1946), 1?56 (available at; Edward Hubbard, The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1986), pp. 234?35; Peter Lord, The Visual Culture of Wales: Medieval Visions (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2003), 236?37; Cadw Listed Building Description, Ref No. 3622; GAT Regional Historic Environment Record, PRN 7034)
A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 08.05.2019

A watching brief, carried out in 2019-2020 bt Cleyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, revealed evidence for earlier features within the church and churchyard, most of which could be dated by a series of memorial slabs (ledgers) as belonging to the 18th and 19th centuries, though some of the features and structures may have been of earlier date. The main findings were the partial remains of an earlier floor, probably in use in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and three vaults within the nave of the church. As was expected, the work demonstrated a continuing use of the church and churchyard during the post-medieval period.

Reference: Report from an Archaeological Watching Brief carried out during refurbishment works at St Grwst’s Church and Gwydir Chapel,
Llanrwst, by Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in 2019-2020. Report no: 1728, Project no. 2399.

application/pdfCPATP - Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust Project ArchivesReport from an Archaeological Watching Brief carried out during refurbishment works at St Grwst’s Church and Gwydir Chapel, Llanrwst,, by Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in 2019-2020. Report no: 1728, Project no. 2399.