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 Marcella (also known as Whitchurch)  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
Located in open countryside within Denbigh Green, approximately 1.6km SE of Denbigh; within its own rubble-walled churchyard. Also known as Whitchurch.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

Site of the C7 cell of St Marchell the Virgin. Established as the parish church of Denbigh following the construction of a new town and castle by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln at the turn of the C13/C14; the church is first mentioned in the Norwich Taxatio of 1291. Its curious siting, almost a mile from the fortified town, is also a feature of the parish churches of Ruthin and Caernarvon, both similar and contemporary foundations. The church represents a classic example of the twin-naved 'Vale of Clwyd' type, having parallel N and S chambers of equal dimensions and with no architectural division between nave and chancel spaces. The present building is largely the result of a late Perpendicular remodelling of c1500 and includes a tall, contemporary (or perhaps marginally later) W tower. The S chamber, however, incorporates earlier fabric which clearly relates to the primary church. A blocked pointed arch at its W end and a masonry break with irregular quoining half-way along the southern wall probably indicate the extent of the original nave; the dressings are in the red/brown sandstone characteristic of late C13 and early C14 work in the vale. An antiquated south porch was added in 1722 and the whole appears to have undergone light restoration in 1854. Further restorations were undertaken in 1908 and 1915. Some traces of external render (from which the name Whitchurch derives) still remain, especially on the tower and the N chamber.  

Medium-sized parish church of double-naved type, with tall, square W tower. Of limestone rubble construction with local sandstone dressings. Medium-pitched slate roof with C19 slab-coped gable parapets and moulded kneelers; stone E gable cross to the N chamber. The S side has a gabled porch to the L, the gable as before. Round-arched entrance with ovolo-moulding and original recessed, studded oak door. A sandstone plaque above the entrance bears a much-weathered inscription recorded as: 'RP: RE (Robert Price and Robert Evans) Wardens, 1722. Repaired 1854, TGE: RR (Thomas Gold Edwards and Robert Roberts). Small round-arched window to the W return wall, with concave lozenge decoration to the spandrels (late C16 or early C17, reused). To the R of the porch is a 2-light mullioned window, probably of C17 date. with renewed, chamfered mullion and chamfered jambs, also partly replaced; original ferementa. Some 2m beyond this is a masonry break with irregular sandstone quoining. To the R of this the masonry is of c1500. Here there are three large 3-light, Tudor-arched windows of equal size and form. Each has pointed-arched lights recessed within a hollow-chamfered outer arch, with moulded and stopped labels. The stops to the first window show a carved, bearded head (L) and a shield with the arms of the Salusbury family of Lleweni (R), both of limestone. The eastern-most windows have weathered foliated stops of sandstone; some restoration, original ferementa. Between the two eastern-most windows is a narrow priest's door, now blocked-up. This has a round-arched head with hollow-chamfered jambs. The W wall of the S chamber has a walled-up pointed arch of brown sandstone. Its gable has an early C20 2-stage louvre of sandstone ashlar. Large 5-light Perpendicular tracery windows to the E ends of both chambers, that to the S taller. Both have pointed arches with carved foliate stops to moulded and returned labels. Chamfered mullions with cusped tracery heads and hollow-chamfered jambs; original ferementa to the N chamber window. The N side has a contemporary 3-light mullioned window to the L of centre, with cusped-headed lights recessed below a hollow-chamfered Tudor arch; some residual colour-wash to the latter. To the R of this is a similar, though flat-arched window of 2 lights; heavy moulded label with weathered head stops; renewed mullion, original ferementa. Between the two windows is a small, early C20 2-stage chimney to the roof, as before. Triangular-arched window to the R with cyclopean limestone lintel and chamfered sandstone jambs; recessed studded oak door, original, though partly restored. Four-stage W tower with battlemented top above a plain stringcourse; flat leaded roof. The base has a chamfered plinth and stepped angle buttresses support the NW and NE corners. Round-arched, 2-light window to the W face at ground-floor level, with chamfered jambs and ferementa; renewed mullion and returned label. Simple vent slits to the first and second floors, with 2-light windows as before to the bell stage above; wooden slatting. Plain sandstone gargoyles to the S and N faces.  

Double-chamber plan with no architectural division between the nave and chancel spaces. Both chambers have exceptionally fine 10-bay late C15/early C16 hammerbeam roofs. These have moulded principals, purlins and rafters, with crenellated brattishing and octagonal piers to the wall posts. The hammerbeams correspond to the bay divisions and each has an intermediate arch-braced collar truss, each with fine human and animal carvings above the wall plate. The N and S chambers are divided by an elegant 5-bay Perpendicular arcade, with moulded Tudor arches springing from octagonal columns with moulded bases and abaci. On each face of the arcade is a continuous label with large stop carvings at each bay division. These are of animals and shield-bearing angels; similar zoomorphic, foliate and heraldic boss carving to the stone wall plate, all now (regrettably) with bright modern polychromy. Slate-flagged floors to both chambers, including many C17 and C18 tombslabs, and parquet flooring to the central and side seating sections. The S chamber has a plain octagonal font of tooled limestone dated 1640. Squat octagonal base with chamfered plinth on a modern concrete base; simple early C20 oak font cover. Panelled octagonal oak pulpit (again, S chamber) with tall panelled back and sounding board with moulded cornice. The back panels bear the incised inscription: 'R.P. H.B: Wardens 1683'. Modern organ at the W end of the N chamber. The nave is separated off from the chancel by a Perpendicular-style carved oak screen which extends across both chambers and returns on the N side of the arcade to separate the chancels of each chamber. By C Hodgson Fowler, 1908, although incorporating a small number of elements (mostly tracery heads) from a former (apparently early Tudor) Rood screen. Plain dado with wide Tudor-arched entrances and flanking bays of open tracery; that to the N has a bracketed canopy. Pierced, cusped tracery heads and fine vinescroll carving with surmounting brattishing to the beam; panelled half-gates to each entrance, with open tracery upper sections and brattishing to the top rails. The (present) chancel is on the N side. This has simple Perpendicular-style oak choir stalls of similar date, with blind tracery arcading to the front panels. Stepped-up sanctuary with plain early C20 oak rails. Simple plain-panelled oak retable with brattishing; vertically-panelled flanking sections with simply-moulded rail and blind tracery detailing. The chancel to the S chamber has a stepped-up sanctuary with finely-carved oak altar table dated 1628. This has strapwork relief-carving to the frieze and bottom rails, the former with angel busts flanking a central angel carving; bulbous carved legs. Tall contemporary altar rails with turned oak balusters supporting an exuberantly-carved vinescroll rail, the latter no doubt originally part of the Rood screen. The altar rails return to the rear and abut a tripartite panelled retable. This is made up out of sections of late C17 fielded panelling, doubtless reused from former box pews. Monuments: Chancel, N chamber: on the N wall is an exceptionally fine and important Renaissance wall monument to Humphrey Llwyd of Foxhall, d.1568. The monument is of aedicular form and consists of an alabaster relief depicting Llwyd kneeling within a vaulted classical interior with his heraldic achievements in the tympanum above. This is contained within a round-headed inner arch of tooled limestone, itself supported by winged puti and contained within an outer frame with Corinthian columns supporting an entablature and moulded pediment; Renaissance frieze carving and grotesques. Surmounting the pediment is a large ball finial in the form of a terrestrial globe, a reference to Llwyd's cartographic interests and his contribution to Ortelius' 'Theatrum Orbis'. Below the monument is an inscribed memorial stone, inset into the wall. Immediately to the W of the Llwyd monument is a fine brass to Richard Middleton, MP, Constable of Denbigh Castle, d.1575. The brass has engraved portraits of Middleton and his wife kneeling, accompanied by their nine sons and seven daughters and with the Middleton and Dryhurst arms above. Guilloche decorated border and a long inscription in gothic letters; moulded (black-painted) stone frame with flanking columnar shafts. To the R of the Lloyd monument is a large classical mural tablet to Robert Salusbury of Cotton Hall and family (d.1774, erected 1802). Of white and grey figured marble with moulded cornice, apron and flaming urn and shallow obelisk to the top. On the E wall is an heraldic stone cartouche with the finely-carved arms of the Salusbury family of Lleweni; polychromed. Chancel, S chamber: this contains the famous tomb of Sir John Salusbury of Lleweni, Chaimberlain of North Wales, and his wife Dame Joan. The monument consists of a very fine alabaster tomb chest with life-sized recumbent effigies (that of Sir John in full armour, that of Dame Joan in long robes and high ruff), with carved figures of their nine sons and four daughters as weepers. The tomb was erected in 1588, ten years after Sir John's death, by Dame Joan, as recorded in an inscription around the cornice; it is known to be by the sculptor Donbins and retains the majority of its original polychromy. On the S wall is a large Baroque wall monument to Sir Robert Cotton, Bart, and his wife, the Lleweni heiress, Lady Hester Salusbury; erected 1715 and attributed to the workshop of Edward Stainton. Of white and grey figured marble with selective gilding and polychromy, the monument consists of a swagged inscription tablet set in an architectural frame, the segmental moulded and coffered pediment to which is supported on Solomonic columns with Corinthian capitals; flanking garland volutes and consoled base with winged angel relief carvings to the apron, with laurel-wreathed foundation plaque below. Large surmounting flaming urn flanked by fine heraldic cartouches. On the E wall (to the R of the window) is a small baroque mural monument to Mary Dryhurst and John Roberts, mason, possibly by the latter, c1692. This is in the form of a fictive drapery banner with heraldic cartouche above and a winged, wreathed angel below; inappropriate modern polychromy. Below the S window is a life-sized recumbent relief of Jeanette Octavia Ward (d.1913) with attendant angels; of grey marble and by the sculptor Albert Toft, 1915. Nave, N chamber: large Baroque monument to Thomas Shaw and family, Recorder of Denbigh (d.1717); of white and grey figured marble. Draped tablet with flanking panelled pilasters supporting a moulded segmental pediment; flaming urn finial with flanking heraldic cartouches. To the L are two classical mural tablets to Sarah (L) and Richard (R) Heaton, of Plas Heaton, who died in 1814 and 1791 respectively. By Richard Westmacott the elder, in white and black marble. Both have obelisks with draped urns. Above these is a Grecian tablet of white marble in the form of a squat obelisk; to Elizabeth, wife of John Heaton, d.1822. Next (W) is a simple tablet in black and white marble to Richard Clough of Glan-y-Wern (d.1784) and family; last date 1838. On the NW wall is a small classical tablet of white and grey marble to Thomas Edwards, the bard 'Twm o'r Nant' (1739-1810); framed Welsh inscription tablet with plain apron and a surmounting obelisk with relief-carved muse figure holding an oval portrait bust of the deceased. The nave S chamber has 3 simple classical tablets of white marble to members of the Twiston family of Henllan Place (1837-53). Stained and painted glass: the S chamber E window has a large cycle of figurative glass showing scenes from Christ's Passion in Arts and Crafts style; a Harrison family memorial window dated 1918. The N chamber N chancel window is an Arts and Crafts figurative window of 1912 in memory of Eliza Vaughan Jones of Park House; depicting the Marys at the Sepulchre. In the porch window are various jumbled fragments of late C15 or early C16 glass, presumably originating in one of the E windows. Hatchments etc. five late C18/early C19 hatchments in the N nave and four similar hatchments in the S; all of conventional lozenge shape and with fine heraldic painting (Salusbury, Middleton, Heaton and other families). On the S wall is a further, smaller rectangular hatchment to Mrs Anne Lloyd of Plumog (sic), dated 1686. This has a painted inscription on panel with arms above. On the W wall (S) is a large, framed benefactors' board, with painted inscriptions and the date 1720 together with churchwardens' names Hugh Price and William Hillditch (on the apron). Two framed wooden tablets in the N chamber record the gift of land by Hugh Robert Hughes of Kinmel Park in 1858 and 1889. On the W wall (N) is a framed wooden tablet of 1781 recording the gift of church plate by the Rev. Robert Middleton. In the N chancel is a fine brass chandelier of 2 tiers and 12 branches inscribed: 'The gift of Mrs Ann Moreton. John Thomas, Chester, fecit 1753.' Oak and iron-bound church chest inscribed: 'TW DD Wardens 1676.' In the S chancel stands a large bronze bell (formerly in the tower).  

Reason for designation
Listed Grade I as an exceptionally fine and well preserved late medieval parish church, one of the most important in the region, with particularly good original interior and exterior detail and with an especially fine series of C16-C18 monuments.  

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