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Chapel of St Mary to N of Vaynol Old Hall

A Grade I Listed Building in Pentir, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 53.203 / 53°12'10"N

Longitude: -4.19 / 4°11'23"W

OS Eastings: 253821

OS Northings: 369561

OS Grid: SH538695

Mapcode National: GBR 5M.28MW

Mapcode Global: WH546.LRZD

Entry Name: Chapel of St Mary to N of Vaynol Old Hall

Listing Date: 22 February 1952

Last Amended: 22 September 1997

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 4172

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: The building is located immediately N of the Old Hall, on a raised terrace in the SW corner of the Terraced Gardens.

County: Gwynedd

Town: Bangor

Community: Pentir

Community: Pentir

Locality: Vaynol Park

Traditional County: Caernarfonshire

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Vaynol, originally the property of the Bishop of Bangor in the medieval period, was given to the crown after the last of the Williams family died without issue in 1696. Before 1723 the estate was granted to John Smith MP Chancellor of the Exchequer and Speaker of the House of Commons, and in 1764 it was left to Thomas Assheton of Cheshire who then took the name of Smith. Marriages of various descendants introduced the Duff and Vivian into the names. The Vaynol estate was enlarged enormously with the wealth created by the Dinorwic Quarry; one of the two most important slate quarries in Wales. However, much of the property was sold by Sir Michael Duff in 1967, and after his death in 1980 the remaining Vaynol Park was sold in 1984, passing out of the family.

The chapel was probably built in the mid-late C16, with the porch being added in 1596, the datestone bearing the inscription WW/E, referring to William Williams and his wife Ellen. In 1910 Charles Assheton-Smith converted the building into a private family chapel, although Sir George Assheton Smith is said to have instigated this plan before his death in 1904. Building accounts show that the marble was supplied by Bayliss Jones Cripps Ltd at a cost of £60. With the iron railings by Bayliss Jones and Bayliss Ltd and the wrought iron gates by Spital and Clark, the total expenditure on this work was far greater than anything else on the estate.


A rectangular aisless building aligned NW-SE. Rubble masonry with quoins and a slate roof, a crucifix on the E gable. Gabled porch to the SW not bonded in, has a depressed arched entrance and dated keystone (WWE 1596) and stone benches either side. Turned timber balusters form the upper part of the porch walls. The inner doorway has broached stops. Three-light windows with arched lights and hollow-moulded jambs under a square head and label. A similar 4-light window is set in the E end.


Exceptional marbled enrichments carried out in the conversion to a family chapel in 1910. The walls are fully lined with marble, and the floor is of black and white chequered marble, all in a richly Italianate manner. Sixteenth century arch-braced roof trusses and chamfered purlins. Some C16 glass survives in the stained glass windows. Altar with kneeling angels at either end. Wall monuments to the Assheton-Smiths at the W end, set within ogee-headed recesses, and plaque reading "completed and restored by him [Sir Charles Assheton-Smith] and his loving wife Sybil Mary"; the former died 24/9/1914 and the latter 27/10/1943. Balustraded steps lead down to a single-chambered and similarly marbled mausoleum with coffins to either side of a central passage.

Reasons for Listing

Graded I as a late medieval family chapel with a remarkable early C20 interior, and for its association with Vaynol Hall.

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