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Church of Saints Mael and Sulien

A Grade II* Listed Building in Cwm, Denbighshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2859 / 53°17'9"N

Longitude: -3.4021 / 3°24'7"W

OS Eastings: 306623

OS Northings: 377465

OS Grid: SJ066774

Mapcode National: GBR 4ZPF.7T

Mapcode Global: WH76G.QN4T

Entry Name: Church of Saints Mael and Sulien

Listing Date: 16 November 1962

Last Amended: 11 January 2002

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1389

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In the village of Cwm, 0.5 km east of the Cwm (Dyserth to Rhuallt) road. Stone churchyard wall with gate at west. The Vicarage site encroaches on the churchyard at south, and shares the roadside wall.

County: Denbighshire

Community: Cwm

Community: Cwm

Locality: Cwm Village

Traditional County: Flintshire

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History

The church is dedicated to Saints Mael and Sulien, but the alternative dedication of the church to St Valacinian is recorded. It has no structural differentiation of nave and chancel. It is dated to the C15 by its Perpendicular east window; also dismantled C14 stonework has been reused in the Easter Sepulchre. There is jumbled mediaeval glass in the central light of the east window. The windows of the north side are later insertions of the C16/C17, and a window at the south of the nave is dated 1769.
Lewis in 1833 found the exterior well repaired but the interior miserably dilapidated; Glynne in 1839 described the church as plain and neglected, the exterior whitewashed and the roof shingled; in the interior he noted an 'ugly' screen defining the chancel.
The church was re-pewed in 1843 and underwent later Victorian restorations. It was extensively restored in 1881, when the present deal roof was formed. New high pews, stained red, and a west gallery were installed, for which the adjacent window on its south side may have been raised in height. Mediaeval texts were lost when the plaster was hacked off. The chancel screen was probably removed at this time.
Another restoration was commenced by the Rev. T M Rees and carried out under the directions of Harold Hughes in 1901. The east window together with the masonry above it was largely rebuilt. The C19 high pews and west gallery were removed. The exterior was repointed and a French drain cut around the base of the walls. 120 pieces of mediaeval glass were assembled to form a centrepiece of the restored east window. A collection of carved mediaeval stones from the churchyard was gathered in the nave together with a post-mediaeval parish chest.
Further changes to the interior have been made in the C20, some of the present pews being dated 1944. A vestry was added at the north-west of the nave in 1947.

Exterior

The church is built in local uncoursed axe-dressed masonry. The roof is slate with a red tile ridge and coped gables. The stump of a finial cross survives above the east gable and there is a two-opening bellcote above the west gable in coursed stonework, with much-eroded decorative stone cresting. A C20 vestry on the north side is built in similar materials, with a plain coped gable and a stone chimney. The lower part of the west wall is of increased thickness (2 m), with a weathered offset at the base of the gable.
The east window is Perpendicular with five lights and has a simple label mould turned out at the ends. The two-light nave south window is probably contemporary with the east window. In the south of the nave the main window is Georgian with jamb caps and a keyed round arch; it has an iron frame at the rear to support the quarry glazing. To the left of the porch is a pair of trefoil headed lights under a flat head. The main doorway within the porch has a slightly dropped mediaeval pointed arch with a simple label turned out at the ends, and the door is nail-studded. The west door is also in a slightly dropped arch, and has a flight of exterior steps. At the north side is a three-light Tudor window to the nave and a four light similar window to the chancel.
The porch is a post-mediaeval addition and has a round exterior open arch. The vestry (C20) has square headed openings.

Interior

The church is entered by the south porch or directly by the west door. To the right of the south door is an interior water stoup. The rise of the floor to the east is conspicuous. Two steps in the middle of the nave now differentiate the stone-flagged entrance and baptistery area to the west from the pewed area to the east. A further two steps with side handrails mark the commencement of the chancel. The roof is C19, continuous and of 17 bays with arch-braced collar beams.
The joinery is mostly or all of the C20, with the pulpit at right and the prayer desk and lectern at left. The altar has three carved front panels. The reredos is also in three panels with blind Gothic tracery and wall panelling extends to the north and south side walls of the sanctuary. The windows have plain quarry glazing apart from jumbled mediaeval glass gathered in the centre of the east window. The font, in the lower part of the nave, is square and on a C19 base.
At the sanctuary steps at left is an Easter Sepulchre, with a steep-sided and uneven arch evidently formed from re-used straight stones. On the soffit of the stones is a rudimentary attempt at C14 ball-flowers.
A Classical wall memorial at the left of the chancel with ramped scrolls, and arms in the break of the pediment, records Humphrey Parry of Pwllhalog [1744]. Against the north wall of the lower part of the nave is a collection of mediaeval slabs and fragments including a C14 four-circle cross slab (which had been in the church floor), a large grave slab to Gwaialima, wife of Gronw, with an ornate incised cross head on a shaft and calvary, a small C14 sepulchral slab to Howell and a fragment of a Crucifixion (rescued from the vicarage wall). There is also an iron-bound C17 parish chest with three locks.

Reasons for Listing

Listed at grade II* as a mainly late-mediaeval church retaining extensive original fabric, of interest also for its conservative restoration in 1901by Harold Hughes.

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