Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

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


Unitary Authority
Street Side
Strikingly situated on a rise overlooking the river Conwy on the W bank, and occupying the NE corner of the former Roman fort of Canovium; accessed via a metalled lane running E from the B5106 Bettws-y-Coed to Conwy road.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

The site originated in the second-half C1 AD as a Roman auxiliary camp, probably established by Agricola; archaeological evidence shows civilian occupation here continued into at least the 5th century. The present church is early Medieval with early C15 and C16 additions and alterations. The former consist of rebuilt E and W gable ends, a re-roofing of the continuous nave and chancel, and an added S porch. A south chapel was added apparently in 1591, by Captain Edward Williams (of Maes-y-Castell), and an ex situ dedication board bearing this date survives within; in addition, a (now very weathered) sandstone plaque above the chapel's S window is recorded as showing the arms of Edward Williams, together with the date as before. Despite this apparently unequivocal dating evidence, both the roof structure and the S and E windows of the chapel are of C15 character; the implication therefore is that either earlier elements have been re-used/re-set, or a pre-existing space has been remodelled, or that alternatively the style and construction is merely deeply antiquated.  

Simple church with long, continuous nave and chancel and S chapel addition flush with the E end. Of random rubble construction under a renewed slate roof; the walling includes a quantity of squared red sandstone blocks which are probably re-used Roman material from the site. Rough-kneelered and stone-coped W end gable parapets with large surmounting double-bellcote. This projects slightly beyond the line of the W wall and is carried downwards to rest on 4 rounded corbels; in the centre of this projection is a carved stone crucifix in a shallow cusped, arched niche of C15 type. Depressed-headed bell openings with triangular profiled rubble coping to flat top; central stone gablet. Deeply-recessed W door with gently-pointed arch; C18 studded plank door. 3 post-Reformation 3-light mullioned leaded windows to N side, those to the L and R of re-used sandstone and slate-stone respectively and that to the centre with C19 pale sandstone mullions. Wide, segmentally-arranged sandstone voussoirs appear between the first 2 windows from L, testifying to an earlier opening. Simple C15 3-light mullioned E window with arched sandstone heads. Adjoining to the S and flush with the E end, the S chapel. This has a 2-light mullioned window to its E side with wide, cusped, arched heads and a similar 3-light window to its gabled S face; original ferrementa. Above, an eroded sandstone plaque formerly bearing the initials EW and GW flanking the Williams arms, and with the date 1591. 2 further post-Reformation windows to the nave S wall, that towards the W of 3 lights with slate mullions and that towards the E a wooden 2-light window. Beyond, towards the W end, a C15 rubble S porch, largely rebuilt as a vestry in the C19, though retaining its W wall and roof structure. This now has a small, arched and cusped window to its S face, re-set and probably originally in the porch E wall.  

Long, continuous nave and chancel. Simple arched-braced collar roof consisting of 31 clustered trusses, probably C14 or early C15; flagged floor. Late C19 figurative stained glass to western-most window of N wall; plain bowl font on column, presumably early Medieval. Round-arched niche to L of E window, a fragment of the pre-C15 E wall. c1830 Gothick furnishings with simple pews with moulded rails to flat bench ends. Sunk-panelled octagonal pulpit on moulded base; stall with open Decorated tracery. The S chapel opens out from the chancel, the supporting bressummer for its wide, flat opening being carried on a figurative engaged capital set into the E wall; this is perhaps C13 and is re-set. 2-bay roof with arched-braced collar truss with plain struts; protruding dowels and chamfered decoration. Above the chapel's E window is a long oak board bearing the inscription in raised letters: 'EDWARDVS : WILL: IAMES: AR: ET: / GRACEA: UXOREI: Q HOC: OPVS: FIERI/ FECERVNT: ANNO: DOMINI: 1591.' This refers to Captain Edward Williams of Maes-y-Castell, High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire in 1570. W wall mural tablet with arms cartouche to Hugh Davis of Caerhun, d.1721; E wall monument to Catherine Hester Hemming and family, d.1829. 2-bay vestry (former S porch) with C15 collar-truss roof with windbraces.  

Reason for designation
Included at Grade I as a fine Medieval church of considerable architectural and historical significance.  

Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]