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All Saints' Church, Llangar

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Map ReferenceSJ04SE
Grid ReferenceSJ0635542452
Unitary (Local) AuthorityDenbighshire
Old CountyMerioneth
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval

All Saints Church, Llangar, is situated on a terrace built into steeply sloping hillside just below the confluence of the rivers Dee and Alwen. The Old Rectory (NPRN 28599) is situated some 250m to its south-east. Bryn Saint, Llangar, hill and farm name (NPRN 43827), is located behind and to the north-east of the Old Rectory. The hill's name indicates that it too is associated with All Saints Church. The church's original name is reputed to be Llann-Garw-Gwyn (the church of the white deer). According to local tradition the church was founded on the spot where a white deer was startled from a thicket, the boundaries of the parish being determined by the directions in which the deer ran. All Saints is first mentioned in documents of 1291. By 1682 the main parish had been divided into two townships, Cymmer and Llangar. Its third township, Gwnodl, was separated from the rest by the intervening parish of Gwyddelwern. At this time parts of the church and churchyard walls were to be maintained by two gentry houses, Gwerclas, Cynwyd (NPRN 28455) and Plas Isaf, Cynwyd (NPRN 28676). The churchyard appears to have originally been curvilinear, although its north and east boundaries are now straight. Its wall and lych gate(NPRN 310330) date to restoration works of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the boundaries may have been straightened at this time, possibly to facilitate construction of the adjacent railway. The church and churchyard are designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Guardianship Monument.

The church is a Grade I listed building, and is considered a fine example of a medieval and post-medieval church untouched by Victorian restoration. It retains exceptional medieval wall paintings, along with a rare and complete arrangement of eighteenth century furnishings. The building is constructed of roughly coursed shale, and consists of a continuous nave and chancel with a south porch and west bellcote. A medieval font is set into the wall by the south door. The interior walls are adorned with a series of wall paintings dating from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. They depict the Seven Deadly Sins, the Apostles? Creed, a large figure of Death and many other images and Welsh inscriptions. Date stones built into the walls indicate rebuilding between 1615 and 1620 and the addition of the porch in 1617. The west wall, along with part of the north and south walls, was rebuilt after 1656. Most of the windows date to the seventeenth century, with some Gothic elements, particularly the east window. The building was largely restored during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the west wall was again rebuilt. The west gallery was added in the eighteenth century, as were the windows west and east of the porch and the three-light window in the north wall. The north and south walls each had a dormer window added in order to light the gallery. The furniture is predominantly eighteenth century, including the three-decker pulpit and box pews, and gallery benches and music stand.

In 1856 All Saints was superseded by a new church, St John the Evangelist (NPRN 43879). At this time the area of habitation had moved further up the valley towards Bala. Some half of the population of Gwyddelwern parish lived at Cynwyd, some five miles from their own parish church. It was therefore decided to incorporate Cynwyd into the parish of Llangar and build a new church at Cynwyd, rather than restore the inconveniently situated All Saints Church. All Saints subsequently fell into disuse and dereliction. The new church contains a number of memorial slabs removed from All Saints, mainly commemorating the ancient families of Plymog (NPRN 27808) and Gwerclas Hall (NPRN 28455). From 1974 All Saints was excavated, restored and consolidated as an ancient monument. The works included restoration of the roof timbers, whose original features include four arch-braced collar-beam trusses at the east end, with two tiers of cusped windbraces in two of the bays. Much of the barrel-vaulted canopy of honour in the east bay was restored at this time, as were the wall paintings. A large stone buttress was constructed along the north wall, obscuring a small chancel window. The exterior walls are now whitewashed.

Sources include:
Beverley Smith, J, Beverley Smith, Ll, 2001, History of Merioneth II, 358-360
Cadw, 2012, Listed Buildings Database
Yates, W. Nigel, 2005, Rug Chapel, Llangar Chruch, Gwydir Uchaf Chapel & Derwen Churchyard Cross: Cadw Guide
Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800, (RCAHMW 2021), pp. 139, 248–9, 271–2, 282, 293–4.


application/postscriptWSP - Welsh Slate Publication CollectionFigure 22. Random slates on the porch of All Saints Church, Llangar show how slates were nailed off-centre to compress the roof. Illustration based on information courtesy of W.T. Jones
application/postscriptWSP - Welsh Slate Publication CollectionFfigur 22. Mae'r llechi cymysg yng nghyntedd Eglwys yr Holl Saint, Llangar yn dangos sut y c?i llechi eu hoelio ychydig o'r canol er mwyn cywasgu'r to. Darlun yn seiliedig ar wybodaeth drwy garedigrwydd W.T. Jones