Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
St Mary's Church  


Unitary Authority
Denbigh - Lenten Pool  
Street Side
Prominently located at the Lenten Pool roundabout, set back slightly behind low curving forecourt walls.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

Large church in eclectic Victorian Gothic style completed 1874. The church, intended as a replacement for the medieval St Hillary's, near the castle, was designed by Lloyd Williams and Underwood, architects of Denbigh, with George Clerk as the contractor. The site had been purchased for the church by P H Chambres and (ironically) Richard Lloyd Williams' family home, Henllan Place, was demolished to make way for it. The foundation stone was laid by Miss Mesham of Pont Ruffyd, in July 1871, with the Bishop, Joshua Hughes in attendance. Miss Mesham donated £4,300 towards the costs of construction, which was used to build a 100ft 30.48m) tower complete with clock and peel of 8 bells. The reredos, designed by Lloyd Williams and executed by Earp of Lambeth, was considered by many (including the bishop) 'too Catholic in taste' and caused considerable controversy, inspiring heated debate in the press. A law suit resulted and the consecration of the church was delayed by 2 years: finally the reredos was (grudgingly) modified.  

Large town church in accomplished Decorated style; aisled nave lacking clerestory and with tall S tower. Of rough-dressed polygonal limestone blocks with sandstone dressings; chamfered plinth. Steeply-pitched slate roof with shallower lean-to aisle sections and coped and kneelered gable parapets with stone gable crosses to the E. The gabled W front is of 3 bays, with buttresses defining the nave and aisle divisions. The central, nave section has a shallow lean-to narthex between the buttresses. This is in Early English style and has a central doorway rising through the eaves under coped gable, with paired, flanking windows. The entrance has a pointed arch with moulded inner arch carried on engaged shafts, with naturalistic foliage capitals and shaft rings; moulded label with carved head stops. Four steps lead up to a pair of large vertically-boarded double doors with simple Gothic-style ironwork. The flanking arched windows are paired and have moulded labels with foliated stops; simple capitals and bases to shafts. Above the narthex is a large pointed-arched, 6-light W window, with complex geometric tracery; moulded label with carved head stops. The aisles have simple 2-light arched tracery W windows with quatrefoil oculi to the heads. Below the N aisle window is a basement entrance with shouldered arch and boarded door, accessed from L to R via a flight of descending steps. Set-back buttresses to the corners, with stepped copings; these continue along the 5-bay S and N aisles where they have quarry-dressed faces. The aisles have simple 2-light windows as before to the first 4 bays and single lights to the fifth (easternmost) bays of each side. These have small projecting slab-coped lean-to porches with shouldered-arched entrances and boarded doors. Stepped-down chancel with 5-light arched tracery E window and similar set-back buttressing. Single 2-light arched windows with oculi to the sides. Extruded in the angle between the chancel and the aisle are, on the N side, the vestry and boiler house, and on the S side a large tower. The latter is a tall, 3-stage square tower with buttresses and a battered base. Two-light arched tracery windows to the ground floor S and E; lancets with shouldered arches to the first floor. The bell stage has 3-light cusped, arched tracery windows with vertical wooden slatting and a large clock dial on the W face. Quatrefoil ocular parapet with crocketed, gabled and finialled octagonal pinnacles to the corners. A small square stair projection rises to half the tower height on the E side, in the angle with the chancel; shouldered-arched entrance and boarded door to S. The vestry is a lean-to projection from the N side of the chancel and has a catslide roof and two shouldered-arched windows, a 2-light and a single-light lancet. Extruded in front of this (to the E) is a lean-to basement boiler block with railed and stepped access.  

Tall aisled nave (lacking clerestory) with 5-bay N and S arcades. These have circular piers on moulded bases, with foliated capitals and narrow pointed arches. Ten-bay roof with scissor trusses, each alternate one arched-braced onto shaped stone corbels; similar aisle roofs. Tiled pavement (counter-changed red/black/yellow), presently obscured by carpeting; original simple fixed pews of pitched pine. In the S aisle is a circular stone pulpit in Early English style; carved by Thomas Earp to designs by the architects; cusped niches with foliated spandrels and carved foliate frieze, supported on red and grey marble columns. Good octagonal Decorated-style pulpit also by Earp. This has deep, blind tracery with foliate-carved diaper back panels and angel figures supporting a moulded cornice; black and brown marble supporting columns. The base is inscribed `in memory of FHT 1867.' Large pointed chancel arch with foliated responds. Stepped-up chancel with encaustic tiled pavement by Maw and Co. (mostly carpeted); cluster truss roof. Simple contemporary Gothic choirstalls with open arcading and oculi; poppy-headed benchends. Stepped-up sanctuary with fine encaustic tiled pavement by Maw, as before. Moulded oak altar rails on polychromed iron and brass Gothic-style supports. Fine tripartite retable, also by Earp, showing the Crucifixion with flanking biblical scenes in relief under canopied niches with heavy cusping, ball flower and other foliate carving; paired pink marble columns divide the 3 niches, with scroll-bearing angel figures above; crocketed gables. Flanking the reredos are 4-panel sections of blind tracery arcading. Leading off from the chancel and stepped-up from the aisles are N and S chapels, the latter with bell tower above, the former containing the organ. Pointed arches towards the chancel and aisles. The late C19 organ is in simple gothic style with polychromed pipes; enlarged by John Bellamy, organ builder of Denbigh, 1909. Stained and painted glass, monuments and textiles: fine E window by John Hardman, 1874, showing scenes from the Passion; dedicated to John Heaton (of Plas Heaton), d.1855. W window by J V Rowlands and Co., 1880, showing scenes from the life of Christ with paired apostles in an arcade at the bottom. S aisle (towards E) a 2-light window by J Ballantine & Son, 1891 (dedicated to Frances Wynne, d.1878). In the N aisle are a double and a single-light window dedicated to Arthur E Turmour (d.1894) and Col. Robert Wills (d.1890). At the western end of the N aisle is a 2-light window by Christopher Whall, 1918, to Anna Maria Story of Goppy (d.1918); the opposing S aisle window is by Veronica M Whall, 1933, to the Jones family of Bodlinfa. At the W end is a large Great War memorial framing the entrance. Hanging in the S aisle in a glazed frame is a large section of a Tudor dossal, known to have been at St Hilliary's church (Denbigh Castle) since at least 1846 and reputedly originating there. This highly important piece is one half of a large dossal known to have been intact until the late C19; an engraving of the complete hanging was made for the Gentleman's magazine in 1846. The right-hand section (now lost) was dated 1530. Of probable Flemish workmanship, the dossal is in the form of a finely-woven tapestry and has a repeat design of IHS monograms within an early Renaissance border with floral and cornucopia motifs. Two mottoes in speech texts appear at the top and bottom, and now read 'Spes Mea In' (the complete text recorded as 'Spes Mea In Deo Est 1530.'  

Reason for designation
Listed Grade II* as a particularly good and unaltered mid Victorian urban church, representing one of the finest works by the Denbigh architects Lloyd Williams and Underwood and having fine-quality interior fittings with especially good stained glass.  

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