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Church of St Eilian

A Grade I Listed Building in Llaneilian, Isle of Anglesey

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Latitude: 53.4106 / 53°24'38"N

Longitude: -4.3036 / 4°18'13"W

OS Eastings: 246978

OS Northings: 392897

OS Grid: SH469928

Mapcode National: GBR HMRP.7F2

Mapcode Global: WH421.VJVP

Entry Name: Church of St Eilian

Listing Date: 12 May 1970

Last Amended: 24 January 2001

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 5363

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In Llaneilian village, set in a large rectangular churchyard with stone boundary walls and two sets of gates to south and west.

County: Isle of Anglesey

Town: Amwlch

Community: Llaneilian

Community: Llaneilian

Traditional County: Anglesey

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The earliest surviving fabric is the substantial west tower which is C12. The body of the church (nave and chancel) is however all of the late C15 (lombardic inscriptions with dates of 1480 and 1481 have been recorded on nave buttresses), though the chapel of St Eilian which lies to the SE is C14: the passage linking the chapel to the chancel is dated 1614. Any subsequent restoration work (for example repairs in 1873 and 1929) has not substantially altered the essentially late medieval character of the church. Remarkable post-reformation tradition, associated with St Eilian’s chapel, coffer and ‘box’ are described by Baring-Gould and Fisher.


The church comprises C12 W tower with pyramidal roof forming a short spire, late C15 nave with SW porch (thought to be an early C16 addition) and contemporary chancel; separate chapel offset to the SE, with a short enclosed passage linking it to the chancel. Masonry structure of tower and passage concealed by roughcast render; nave, chancel and chapel of rubble with buttered pointing and ashlar gritstone dressings.
Massive W tower is square in plan, 3 stages with small louvred bell chamber lights, and highly unusual pyramidal stone spire, surmounted by weather cock. The nave is articulated by buttresses at the angles and defining the bays, each angled in its upper stage and capped at parapet level by crocketted finial. On each of the buttresses consecration crosses were marked, originally 12 inside and 12 outside; these are enclosed in circles c30cm in diameter and c2-2.5m above ground level. High crenellated parapet with roll mouldings. South west porch has similarly detailed parapet. South doorway within shallow gabled porch has hollow chamfered and roll-moulded arch with hoodmoulds; cambered trusses sprung from corbel heads to porch. Nave windows are of 3 foiled lights in shallow arches with hoodmoulds; continuous sill band. At SE angle of nave, an octagonal stair turret (the rood-loft stair continued to roof-level). North doorway has continuous hollow-chamfered mouldings unbroken by capitals. Chancel has high sill band, and simple foiled 2-light windows to N and S, with flat heads and hoodmoulds. East wall of chancel mainly rendered; 3-light E window in steep hollow-chamfered arch with hoodmould. Parapet and buttresses similar to those of nave.
The passageway linking the chancel to the chapel has a grouted slate single pitch roof and 2 tiny leaded lights. Stones set in the wall bear the initials: R P R and W K R H and the date: 1614. Chapel of St Eilian is set at an angle to the main axis of the church, but it is similarly detailed with moulded parapet. Bellcote at its W gable. A 2-light window in its SW elevation has simple round-headed lights. Decorated E window of 3-lights (its lower section blocked). North wall of chapel blank except for a small doorway with chamfered arched head.


Steep chamfered arch in base of tower has C12 imposts to C13 or C14 arch; otherwise, the interior of the church is largely late C15: roof of nave has 4 chamfered tie beams on wall plates sprung from moulded corbels surmounted by shield-bearing painted figures; simpler intermediate ties, all carrying joists and boarded ceiling.
Simple chamfered chancel arch, and exceptionally fine rood screen of late C15 or early C16 date: this has deep moulding over solid lower panels, with 4 tall open panels either side of central doors; paired doors in 3 tiers, with solid lower panels and open work arched upper panels. Cornice above is richly carved with stylised cones, flowers, etc. The loft is then carried forward on ribbed, boarded coving, on which is painted the figure of a skeleton which wields a scythe on which is written: Colyn angau yw pechod (The sting of death is sin). A double-tier frieze at the foot of the gallery repeats the cone motif; the gallery has moulded posts and a deep rail. Doorway to rood stair at right of screen.
Chancel roof has 3 cambered trusses carrying purlins and ridge beam, chamfered joists and boarded ceiling; tie-beams carried on carved brackets sprung from shaped corbels surmounted by painted figures with musical instruments. Choir stalls probably contemporary with screen, carved with simple tracery between heavy ribs; bench ends have foliated cross finials over two tiers of tracery. Three steps up to sanctuary, with C19 wrought iron and wood rail, and encaustic tiled floor. Plain panelled reredos, but altar table itself dated 1634.
Shallow arched doorway to passage leading to chapel. Wall memorial tablets dated 1739, 1805 and 1864 in passage. Chamfered arched doorway to chapel (the original entrance) which has roof similar in character to that of chancel but with some floriate carving to the wallposts and has some remains of painted decoration at the E end; and fine solid ribbed wooden altar, said to have served as the saint’s shrine before being dedicated as an altar table. Tomb slab to David Pugh, d1696 in floor.

Reasons for Listing

Listed grade I as an exceptionally fine, well preserved late medieval parish church, incorporating a highly unusual 12th century tower with pyramidal spire, and a rare survival of an originally detached chapel. The late medieval architectural character of the church survives virtually intact, and includes a particularly fine screen and rood loft.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Lychgate to S entrance of Church of St Eilian
    Located at the southern entrance to the churchyard to the Church of St Eilian; directly S of the SW porch.
  • II Cross in churchyard of Church of St Eilian
    Located in the churchyard directly to S of the W tower of the Church of St Eilian.
  • II Lychgate at W entrance to Church of St Eilian
    Located at the western entrance to the churchyard to the Church of St Eilian.
  • II Tan y Fynwent
    Set well back from the NE side of the country road leading through the village of Llaneilian; Tan y Fynwent is along a small trackway and lies c 25m ESE of the church of St Eilian
  • II Llanfoi
    Sited along the N side of the country road running through the village of Llaneilian; located c175m WSW of the Church of St Eilian.
  • II Llanfoi
    Sited along the N side of the country road running through the village of Llaneilian; located c175m WSW of the Church of St Eilian.
  • II Llanfoi
    Sited along the N side of the country road running through the village of Llaneilian; located c175m WSW of the Church of St Eilian.
  • II Privy block at Rectory
    Set back from the N side of a lane which runs E off the country road between the villages of Llaneilian and Pengorffwysfa; c550m SSE of the Church of St Eilian. The privy block is directly to the N o

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