The church is thought to have been founded by St Beuno in the C7, and was re-dedicated to St Mary after the Norman conquest. The church contains fragments of worked and inscribed stones of this early period. The first stone church on the site may have been C11. The earliest surviving part of the church is the N aisle which may be C14-15. It includes 3 Decorated windows, a Perpendicular window and the original roof structure. The 6-bay arcade is thought to be C15-C16: the nave and chancel may therefore be of this period. At the E end is the Mostyn chapel, with family vault beneath. Sir Roger Mostyn (d.1651) is the last to have been buried here. The church was illustrated by Moses Griffith in 1796, when it was double-gabled with a S porch and priest's door, and had a tower with saddleback roof. The openings suggest a W gallery and rood loft. Before 1842 it was described by Glynne as having a heavy tower and mainly Perpendicular windows. The tower, by Ambrose Poynter, was rebuilt in 1842-3 at the joint expense of Lord Mostyn and Lady Pennant, as recorded on a decorative tablet in the N aisle. In 1845-6 Poynter substantially remodelled the church in Perpendicular style, under the patronage of Lady Emma Pennant, including the addition of a S aisle. The roof of the nave and chancel was renewed but is probably a copy of the original. Inside the church, the rails and sanctuary flooring are by Lingen Barker, 1876, whilst a restoration of 1888 by Ewan Christian included new pews, pulpit and screens between chancel and aisles.
Large church in Perpendicular style, with W tower, nave and chancel in one, N aisle, S aisle and S porch. Constructed of coursed yellow sandstone ashlar, the surface pecked, under slate roofs. The earlier N aisle is roughcast to the N and W. Detail includes buttresses with offsets, a plinth and stone eaves cornice. The heavily traceried windows are mainly Perpendicular with Tudor-arched heads and hoodmoulds.
Three-stage tower with string courses, sill band to upper level openings, diagonal buttresses which are almost full-height and battlemented parapets with gargoyles to angles. W doorway with Tudor-arched head and 2 orders of hollow mouldings containing planked double doors with strap hinges. Narrow trefoiled lancet to middle stage and 3-light panel-traceried louvre to top stage under a Tudor-arched head. The N and S sides each have the same openings to the middle and upper stages, and a narrow rectangular light to the lower stage. Similar louvre to E face with clock beneath sill band. This is mounted in a square frame with hoodmould, in the angles of which are small motifs with the date, 1843.
The W end of the S aisle has a 3-light window with flat head, each light with a cinquefoiled ogee head. In the gable is a narrow trefoiled light. The SW angle of the aisle has quoins and large kneelers. The gabled S porch is offset slightly to the R of centre. Shallow pointed arched entrance with 2 orders of mouldings and a hoodmould. In the gable is a tiny trefoiled light. Small diagonal buttresses to angles and large kneelers. Two-light flat-headed windows to sides of porch, the lights with cinquefoiled ogee heads. Inside the porch is a similar doorway into the church but with a Tudor-arched head and containing double planked doors. Plain roof with narrow rafters. There are 2 windows to each side of the porch, all Perpendicular, of 3 lights with cinquefoiled heads.
The E end of the church consists of the gable ends of the chancel and aisles, the chancel higher and wider. Diagonal buttresses to angles, buttresses between chancel and aisles and large cross finials to gables. Large 5-light panel-traceried E window with shallow pointed head and hoodmould with plain end bosses. The lights have cinquefoiled heads with cusped tracery above. The flanking aisle windows are 4-light under Tudor-arched heads, the lights with cinquefoiled ogee heads. At ground level to the N aisle, is the chamfered Tudor-arched head of an opening which is infilled. Doorway with similar head to S aisle, leading to a basement (probably boiler room) and approached by steps. Wooden door with open ironwork, including narrow lancets and a lock rail decorated with quatrefoils.
The earlier N aisle has a doorway with 2 windows to each side. Chamfered Tudor-arched doorway with hoodmould containing a planked door with strapwork. Three of the windows are Decorated, but were restored in the C19 to varying degrees. That to the L appears to be original; 2-light with pointed-arched head, the lights with trefoiled heads and with roundels above. The window to its R was probably similar, but its head has been replaced. To the R of the doorway, the 3rd window has C19 tracery with a quatrefoil above the lights. To the far R is a Perpendicular 3-light window with hollow mouldings under a Tudor-arched head. The W gable end of the N aisle has a 2-light C19 window as N side. The upper part of the wall is stepped in.
Continuous nave and chancel with 14-bay arched-brace roof (9 to nave, 5 to chancel). The braces are flattened with king posts flanked by curved struts. They rest on canted bell-shaped corbels. Three tiers of cusped wind braces. Six-bay Tudor-arched arcades to aisles, that to the S copied in the C19. Double chamfered arches on octagonal piers with ringed capitals and plain bases.
The N aisle retains the original arch-braced roof, with 2 curved struts above each brace and an ornate boss to each soffit. Most of the Decorated windows retain their original internal tracery. To the E end of the N aisle is the Mostyn Chapel, whilst the W end has been enclosed by wood panelling to form a vestry. The S aisle roof is in a similar style to the nave and chancel, with 2 tiers of cusped wind braces. The floor of the church slopes down quite steeply towards the E. Octagonal stone font dated 1649 to W end of nave, with a blind quatrefoil to each face. On an octagonal stem on a square plinth. The remaining furniture is mainly C19: wooden pews with moulded bench ends and choir stalls in a similar style; polygonal wood panelled pulpit bearing blind cusped lancets; wood panelled screens with open cusped lancets to each side of chancel; raised Sanctuary with encaustic floor tiles and an altar rail with fluted piers and a moulded wooden handrail. Large pipe organ to SE corner, by Blackett and Howden, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Large 2-tier chandelier of mid-C18 date.
Stained glass signed C A Gibbs to E window with Crucifixion to centre, in memory of Alexander Cope of Saithailwyd (d.1874). Also stained glass towards the E of the N aisle by Lavers & Westlake 1898, and Heaton, Butler & Bayne 1917. The E end of the aisle has a window depicting the nativity, to Edward Baron Mostyn (d.1884) and his wife.
The church includes an unusually fine collection of monuments. To the N wall of the Mostyn chapel is a pair of square stone armorial tablets, with decoration in high relief in Jacobean style, that to the L painted. Both have moulded sills on corbels with inscriptions beneath, and a cornice supporting pointed finials and stylised roundels. That to the L is to Ellis Wyn, son of Sir John Wyn of Gwydyr (d.1619). The R monument is to Richard Coytmor, vicar of Whitford (d.1684). To the R is a rectangular tablet in a heavy surround with dog-tooth enrichment and cornice. The tablet bears a delicate engraving of a man and woman with their children as weepers, and is dedicated to Elizabeth Mostyn (d.1647). Grave slabs set in the floor to members of the Mostyn family, mainly C17, and also to the Thomas's of Mertyn. In the S aisle is a fine marble monument in classical style to the antiquarian and writer, Thomas Pennant of Downing, who died in 1798. A muse with harp kneels in front of a pier bearing an urn and the bust of a man. The piece is by Richard Westmacott. To the R and flanking the entrance are further marble tablets to members of the Pennant family, early C19 and also by Westmacott. They have round arched heads with scrolls and foliage. Marble war memorial tablet to far R. To the W end at a high level is a fine marble monument with decorative triangular pediment, to Thomas Thomas of Downing (d.1823). It is by W Spence and shows a mourning woman in front of an urn bearing a bust.
Reasons for Listing
Listed grade I as a church which, though largely of C19 character externally, retains an exceptionally fine late medieval interior, and a notable series of C17-19 monuments.
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- Herefordshire (Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England)
- Derbyshire (Pevsner Architectural Guides) (Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England)
- The Listed Buildings and Other Principal Structures at the Royal Gunpowder Mills Waltham Abbey
- Lancashire: Manchester and the South-East (Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England)
- Department for Communities Listed Historic Buildings of Northern Ireland: Information Guide for the 2nd Survey of Historic Buildings