Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Church of St Cynhafal  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
Reached by a minor road east of Llangynhafal. The churchyard is circular, considerably raised above road level on the west, and partly surrounded by a rubble stone wall. War memorial set in west wall of churchyard. Iron gates; winding path from west.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

The circular form of its churchyard and the dedication to an early Celtic saint suggest the church of St Cynhafal has early origins. The saint is thought to have been a C7 monk, and the dedication to him is unique. A church here is mentioned in 1254 and the earliest rector known was here in 1390. The existing building probably dates from the C15. It is of the double-naved type common in the Vale of Clwyd, the north having been the liturgical nave until the south nave took that function in the alterations of 1884. The north nave has the richer roof detailing, but the south nave carries the bellcote. It is possible the south nave is of slightly later date than the north. Glynne saw the church in 1864 prior to its C19 restoration and described the style of the whole as Perpendicular. The south doorway is in late mediaeval masonry. A plaque on the west wall records work carried out in 1669 and the date 1671 has been noted on the bellcote. The C19 restoration of the church was carried out in two phases, £200 being spent in 1869-70 under the Rev R Ll A Roberts: this included some work to the south porch, the formation of an internal vestry at the west, plaster stripping and roof repairs. The major work was carried out under the Rev T H Jones in 1884, when £1200 was spent on restorations under the direction of Arthur Baker, architect, of Kensington (who had recently completed the restoration of the neighbouring church of St Hychan). The high altar was changed from the north nave to the south, the roofs were repaired and the church refloored. The pews are thought to be by Baker, but two Jacobean pews were retained (over a family vault) in the north nave.  

The church is double naved, without any exterior distinction between nave and chancel; it is rendered apart from the porch and bellcote. The roofs are of slate with coped gables to east and west of both naves and over the porch. The porch is to the south. There is a low annexe over the heating apparatus on the north side with a chimney and an adjacent shed. The windows after restoration still conformed to Lloyd-Williams and Underwood's drawings and to the description of them given by Glynne prior to the C19 restoration work, showing that there was an element of conservation in the policy followed. The east window of the north nave continued to be of four lights with sub-arches in the tracery, and it has an unstopped label mould with a grotesque face as a keystone. The east window of the south nave is of five lights in Perpendicular style, four-centred, with richer detail but no label mould. In the south windows New Red Sandstone contrasts strongly with the yellow sandstone of the restored mullions. The other windows, much restored, appear to be in the same yellow sandstone. The three windows of the south side are four-centred, each consisting of four trefoil-headed lights. The west window (in the north nave) is probably of the C18, round-headed with leading attached to stout rear ferramenta. At north there is only one window, of three lights beneath a three-centred arch. The porch is of the C19, its front in pecked ashlar limestone with axe-dressed work at the sides and sandstone dressings. The outer doorway is four-centred. Plain modern doors with glazed slits.  

The church is entered by the south porch, the inner doorway of which has a 3-centred arch within an opening which has lost its main arch and now has a lintel. This truncated archway has a broad hollow moulding at left within which there is a small carved figure in vestments, possibly representing St Peter. The interior retains strong Perpendicular and late mediaeval character. The naves are of similar size, each of five major or ten minor bays; the naves are separated by an arcade of five four-centred stone arches on octagonal columns. The floor is of red and black quarry tiles. The roofs are a dominant feature; the major trusses have short pseudo-hammer beams with angel terminals (some missing), and the minor trusses have carved faces at the feet of the principals, recently painted. All trusses have high collar beams. In the north nave there are V struts above the collars, cusped to give trefoil and quatrefoil openings. The naves are now pewed as one, with C19 pews in three banks. The pew detailing is plain but there are simplified poppyheads to the ends. To the west of the north nave are two Jacobean box pews, within which a brass plate records the burial of John Jones of Scorlygen, gent, 1760. There is a C19 octagonal font near the south door. The south nave now functions as the main nave, with the pulpit at its right side. This is octagonal, Jacobean (said to be about 1636), carved on all faces except the right where it stands against the wall, so perhaps in coming from the north nave it has been rebuilt. In the chancel, one step up from the nave, there are choirstalls similar to the nave pews. The chancel floor and that of the Lady Chapel in the north nave are paved in red and black quarry tiles, with encaustic features in the main chancel. There is a sanctuary step around the high altar with communion rails incorporating unusually tall closely set fluted balusters and no gate (said to come from the stairs landing at Plas Draw). The carved low-relief reredos is said to have the date 1636, and there is wall panelling each side and a pelican (1690) suspended above. The altar in the Lady Chapel is simpler and carries a 3-panel altarpiece. Mediaeval stained glass is said to have been destroyed in the C17; some survived until replaced by C19 memorial windows. At south there is a window with 4 male saints [1892], another with 4 female saints [1890] and a third with four Old Testament leaders who built things: Noah with the ark; Abraham with the pyre; Solomon with the Temple and Nehemiah with the walls of Jerusalem; this window commemorates G F Lyster of Plas Issa [1899]. The 3-light window at north shows the Crucifixion, commemorating Catherine Williams of Glyn Arthur [1886]. The church has a good collection of C18/19 Classical wall memorials, those at south to the family at Plas Draw from 1778 onwards. Those at north include a small one to the Rev David Hughes, rector and headmaster of Ruthin School [1817] and a large Regency style one to the Rev John Jones, rector, of Plas-yn-llan [by Blayney of Chester, 1830]. Four earlier (C17/18) memorial stones, with lettering only, are set at low level in the north wall. Beside the south door is a table of charitable bequests to the poor of the parish.  

Reason for designation
Listed at Grade I as a particularly fine church of the Vale of Clwyd type, with very good original roof carving, some good Jacobean pews, all sensitively restored in the C19 by Arthur Baker.  

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