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Church of Saint James the Great

A Grade II Listed Building in Llandderfel, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 52.9712 / 52°58'16"N

Longitude: -3.4505 / 3°27'1"W

OS Eastings: 302687

OS Northings: 342526

OS Grid: SJ026425

Mapcode National: GBR 6L.JVQC

Mapcode Global: WH66V.ZL21

Plus Code: 9C4RXGCX+FQ

Entry Name: Church of Saint James the Great

Listing Date: 16 July 1997

Last Amended: 31 January 2001

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 18547

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: On the SE side of the A494 on the east side of Glan-yr-afon; set within its own walled churchyard.

County: Gwynedd

Town: Bala

Community: Llandderfel

Community: Llandderfel

Locality: Glan-yr-Afon

Traditional County: Merionethshire

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Erected as a memorial church to Sir Robert and Lady Williames-Vaughan of Rug at an overall cost of £2,328; designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and built 1861-1864.


Memorial church in simple Early Gothic style. Nave and chancel in one, articulated by the positioning of the gabled bell-cote, and strongly projecting stepped buttress to N wall (similar buttress to S, with lean-to vestry built against it to the east). Bellcote has paired chamfered arches and inset quatrefoil. Rough rubble brought to irregular courses, with sandstone ashlar dressings to window surrounds etc., and tooled angle quoins; graded green slate roof with coped gables surmounted by cross finials. Porch to NW angle has coped gabled roof and double-chamfered archway with impost band continuing to form sill band of west windows. Roll-moulded arch to inner doorway. The W end has paired lancet windows with plate-traceried rose-window recessed and with strongly moulded surround. 3 windows to the S side of the nave, all 2-light plate tracery, each differently detailed, and linked by continuous sill-band. Lean-to vestry to S of chancel, with simply moulded arched doorway and gathered stack with cylindrical shaft. Chancel has stepped triple-lancet east window. Paired lancet windows to N of chancel, and 2-light plate-traceried windows in N wall of nave, again all differently detailed and with continuous sill band, dropped to a lower level for the nave windows beyond the buttress.


Coherent, integrated design with fine contemporary fittings. 4-bay nave with scissor-braced rafters and chamfered principal roof trusses sprung from wall-posts carried on plain corbel blocks. Deep splays to windows with cavetto moulded chamfered arches, and stilted arch to NW doorway. Double roll-moulded arch to chancel, with angle shaft to outer arch, and engaged shaft to inner arch, with plain block abaci. Chancel roof of 2 bays, similar to that of nave. The chancel is raised up two steps which have blue and gold tiles carrying lettered text. Pulpit at one side of chancel arch has simple trefoiled panels with pierced decoration. Red, gold and black encaustic tiles laid diagonally to chancel, and richer floor tiles to sanctuary (incorporating emblems of the Evangelists), which is also raised up two steps with tiled text. Reredos has diagonally laid tiles with embossed pattern (fleurs-de-lys etc.). Piscina and double sedilia: piscina has roll moulded trefoiled arch carried on slender shafts; reredos has paired trefoiled arches set beneath roll-moulded arch with rectangular hood-mould over. East window set in arch with engaged shafts and inset trefoils at spandrels. Communion rails also appear to be contemporary: ironwork with slender twisted shafts carrying gilded scrolls to support moulded wood rail. Choir stalls have similar, though simplified, detail, and incorporate twisted brass candelabra (converted to electric light fittings). Similar fittings in nave benches. Font at west end of nave: octagonal basin with lettering and band of entwined lilies in relief; cover with wrought iron scrollwork. Stained glass in E window, by O'Connor.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as a good, well-preserved example of a Gothic Revival rural church, with a consistency of design and coherence of detail running through the simplicity of its overall form, the subtle articulation of exterior detail, and the quality of its contemporary interior fittings.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Old Board School at Llawrybettws
    In the centre of the small village group, on the E side of the lane.
  • II Llawrybettws Chapel
    Set back slightly on the corner of the lane behind a partly-railed forecourt with curved rubble revettment walls following the road to the L and R.
  • II Barn at Ty Mawr
    Built alongside the road at Ty Mawr, which is on the A494 between Druid and Four Crosses.
  • II Ty Mawr
    On the SE side of the A494, between Druid and Four Crosses.
  • II Cymro Gate
    Located at the north-eastern boundary of the community and prominently-sited on the roadside.
  • II The Druids
    At the junction of the A5 with the Bala Road.

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