History in Structure

Church of St Silin

A Grade I Listed Building in Llansilin, Powys

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Latitude: 52.8454 / 52°50'43"N

Longitude: -3.1749 / 3°10'29"W

OS Eastings: 320965

OS Northings: 328185

OS Grid: SJ209281

Mapcode National: GBR 6Y.SWSM

Mapcode Global: WH78Q.6RD1

Plus Code: 9C4RRRWG+42

Entry Name: Church of St Silin

Listing Date: 4 January 1966

Last Amended: 25 September 2003

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 638

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Also known as: Church of St Silin

ID on this website: 300000638

Location: At centre of Llansilin village. Stone-walled churchyard with iron gates at west to High Street; prominent War Memorial of Celtic Cross form; sundial.

County: Powys

Community: Llansilin

Community: Llansilin

Locality: Llansilin village

Traditional County: Denbighshire

Tagged with: Church building

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Llansilin was in origin a 'clas' church, and in the closing years of the C13 was named as 'ecclesia Si Egedii de Kynlleith', the head of the deanery of Cynllaith. Vicars are recorded from 1334. It has been suggested by Ralegh Radford that the form of the early church was cruciform with an aisled nave; though recent archaeological investigations have thrown doubt on this. Surviving early details include a C13 lancet in the south wall, two blocked doorways (at west of north aisle and in south side) and reused early arcade capitals. The latter details are a link stylistically to Valle Crucis. This period has left only minor traces as the church was substantially rebuilt in the C15. It has been suggested the church was ruined in the early C15 at the same time as the destruction of Sycharth. The north aisle is the original nave and the part originally dedicated to St Silin; the present nave, or part of it, was formerly dedicated to St Mary. An alternative mediaeval dedication to St Giles (considered equivalent to Silin or Egidius) has been recorded.

The church was rebuilt in unequal double-naved form c.1500. Civil War damage in 1646 included the destruction of the east window and the rood loft figures. A timber-framed spire was erected but was burned down in 1813. A south porch was added in 1771, the west gallery was repaired in 1777-8 and the interior was fitted up with box pews, some bearing the date 1782. The Royal Arms are displayed on the north aisle wall and it was stated in 1813 that the Lord's Prayer was painted on the chancel walls.

The C19 work started with the construction of a west tower in 1832 for £522, including stairs for access to the west gallery, and the removal of the south porch in 1864. The west gallery (which had been used by musicians) was retained as an organ gallery. The principal restoration was undertaken in the 1890s at the time of the Rev. David Davies (vicar 1876-1901) to the design of Arthur Baker, architect, of Kensington, in collaboration with Harold Hughes, architect, of Bangor. This entailed the removal of the box pews, the provision of 322 free sittings and the formation of a vestry at north-east behind the resited organ. The contractor was Mr Clark of Birmingham. Stall carving by Bridgeman of Lichfield; tiles by Edwards of Ruabon.


A church of double-naved form in local variegated sandstone and shaley stone; masonry dressings in sandstone or other freestone mostly dating from the C19 restoration. The masonry is generally uncoursed quasi-rubble. The north and east walls of the north aisle are battered at foot. The south wall reveals several major building periods progressing from east to west, and includes a small setback a little right of centre with prominent quoins. Slate roofs with red tile ridges. Coped gables at east and west with overlapping copings and small Celtic-cross finials at apexes. The tower added at the west in 1832 is in variously coloured sandstone, doubtless intended as a good colour match for the mediaeval masonry but in regularly coursed work weathering differently and with ashlar buttresses of apparently lighter colour.

The east window of the present nave is of four lights in Perpendicular style, of slightly drop-arch form; two sub-arches above transom; tracery and main lights cusped; thin label mould with ends turned out. The adjacent east window of the north aisle is also in Perpendicular style, with four cusped lights and sub-lights above, without transom, and with a high sill level.

In the south wall, from east to west, are a two-light window with trefoiled lights and sunken spandrils; a narrow lancet with hollow chamfers, possibly reset; a C19 window of two cinquefoiled lights; another C19 window of three cinquefoiled ogee lights centred above a mediaeval two-order doorway with heavy rolls in brown sandstone (roughly reconstructed [ex situ?] in drop-arch form) with an oak door showing Civil War bullet holes; and a C19 two-light window with round heads. In the north wall, from east to west, are a lean-to shed, a two-light window with cinquefoiled heads and sunk spandrils, and a C19 two-light window with foliated label moulding. At the west of the north aisle is a C19 two-light window in a former door opening.

The tower is of three storeys with crocket-finial angle buttresses to the top storey merging into gabled crossed buttresses beneath. The parapet is crenellated and corbelled. Slight offset at the base of the top storey. Plain single light belfry openings on all sides, with a sill string to west. Single light to west in the ringers' storey, with simple hood mould and sill string course. Plain main west doorway with simple hood mould and outer iron gates.

A stone memorial to Huw Morus, against the south wall, was put up in 1874 to replace the worn stone written about by George Borrow in Wild Wales.


The church is entered by the west porch in the base of the tower. The porch is stone-flagged and there is a stone staircase (to the gallery and tower) at left. The tower has bells and a clock of 1848.

Pointed door to nave, entering beneath the timber support structure of the gallery. The exceptional quality of this church is evident in the first view of the nave and chancel. The nave roof is of four bays with arch-braced collar beam trusses with cusped struts and windbraces. The nave is a little wider than the north aisle (which was the original nave), from which it is separated by an arcade of four pointed arches on octagonal piers. The nave and aisle are stone flagged and planned as one for the purpose of setting out the pews, which are separated by two main passages, a passage at rear and a passage to the south door. Panelled pews with carved top rail and ends. C18 pulpit to right, with sound-board. At the chancel steps, centrally, is a fine brass chandelier, known as the Seren Silin, made by Richard Roberts of Birmingham, a native of Llansilin, in 1824; it has a lowering mechanism.

The west gallery is supported by a late mediaeval timber frame (large timbers, cusped braces - possibly reused from a rood screen?) Above the west gallery is a Commandments board with Moses and Aaron, painted on canvas, which was formerly in the chancel of the north nave; it carries the names of late C18 churchwardens. The gallery balustrade has C18 splat balusters. Beneath the gallery is a poor-box dated 1661. Above the gallery hangs a timber chandelier of the C17. At east end of the north aisle are two preserved box pews, and a low screen to the vestry formed of reused box-pew wainscot. C17 font and cover at the west end of the nave.

Small step up to chancel. The chancel is paved in red quarry tiles with strips of encaustic tiles. Its high point is the three-bays of C15 celure of barrel form with traceried panels (originally there was a similar celure to both chancels). It is tied by three large chamfered and stopped beams with cusped struts above. Double choirstalls each side by Baker, incorporating reused carved C17 wainscot. Organ at left, complete with original hand-blowing lever and indicator. Vestry to north, at the nave floor level.

Two steps up to sanctuary, with a hardwood Communion rail without gate. Carolean altar table, one end uncarved. Panelling on full width of the east wall with returns each side.

Monuments include a Baroque carved memorial on the south wall to Sir William Williams of Glascoed, Speaker of the Commons, with urns, arms, cherubs and pilasters, 1700. Another large Baroque memorial on the north wall is to David Morris of Penybont, with an inscription detailing the history of his property, 1719, a splendid example of the use made of church memorials to publicise title. This memorial has a fine wrought iron grille at the foot and a plaster coving above. Display of former box-pew brass nameplates on wall of north aisle. Also on the north aisle wall are the Royal Arms, in plaster, now painted white, but paradoxically those of Queen Anne post-1707 together with a Foulkes monument of 1762, in time of George III, evidently put up at the same time. Was this an anti-Hanoverian gesture?

The east window features the four Evangelists and the Ascension, by Powell and Sons. The east window of the north aisle (installed 1875) commemorates Huw Morris of Eos Ceiriog, Royalist satirical poet, d.1705 (buried in churchyard).

Reasons for Listing

Listed at grade I as a church preserving unusually fine C15 and some earlier fabric, plus important post-mediaeval features, and which has undergone sensitive restoration by Baker in the C19 leading to a result of exceptional character.

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