Sunday, 15 July 2012

Two churches and a Tweed mill, North Wales

If I was travelling solo or having to organise a day out, I would never think about coming to these three places. However when I'm in the hands of a coach driver and wishing my Mother a good holiday, I was prepared to give anything a go.
This post was essentially a morning tour of 2 short stops with a lunch break before the main location of the day in the afternoon. As it wasn't a humorous morning, I decided when writing this to insert some detailed content as a personal Google experiment because these are generally unknown places to the majority of the average North Wales visitors.

The unusual first site of the day was new to me as I had never even heard of it before. St Trillo's chapel on the promenade at Rhos-on-sea is well hidden out of sight on the coastal side of the Llandudno to Rhos-on-sea road.

The age of the current building is unknown but it is thought that the 6th century French Missionary, St Trillo, built a basic structure over a pre Christian Holy well and used this source originally for healing properties of drinking water and facilities for baptism.

Had to hurry to beat the coach party to get these "people free" images !
From ancient maps, the "cell" as it was known at the time was originally thought to be on an island possibly linked by a causeway. As a result, St Trillo sought to spread the Christian message to mainly fishermen and farmers before moving inland.
St Trillo came from a background rich in church history as his brother, sister and father also founded churches of their own when they arrived in North Wales.
The building was later upgraded to an 11 x 8 ft size stone structure before falling into a poor state long after disuse following The Dissolution of the Monasteries. The last major restoration took place to the exterior of the building during the 1890s by a church benefactor called William Horton.

St Elian was a Catholic saint who was thought to have landed in Anglesey from Rome to build a church there in 450AD. Local folk lore would suggest that he warranted his picture depicted somewhere. An ancient place like this seems ideal even if his beliefs are a little different to the current Anglican church.

In times of early Christianity, Monks and Missionaries lived in quiet places where life was a lot slower so as they could be free to meditate in solitude with the surrounding beauty and commune with their creator... My camera timing data shows that I was only allowed 8 minutes of photographs here ... shame, not enough time to enjoy that here then !!

As a place of worship, the church was re-consecrated on 16th June (St Trillo's day) 1935 and is used for Anglican services every week and is arguably the smallest church in Great Britain.

It comfortably seats ... six people ! On special event days, allowances are made for about 20 people to attend ... at a squeeze !

The next location is a spectacular church that I have passed many times at close proximity and at great speed on the A55 North Wales road without knowing anything about it.

St Margaret's church (The Marble church) at Bodelwyddan took four years to build starting in 1856 at a cost of £60,000. The building is constructed from local limestone, oak and 13 or 14 different kinds of marble decorated in a Gothic style with a spire that reaches a spectacular height of 202 feet.

Coming from a background of eminent lawyers and rich land owners, Lady Margaret Willoughby de Broke wanted to leave something in memory of her late husband (Henry Peyto-Verney, 16th Baron Willoughby de Broke) after he died in 1852. One of the things that she was passionate about was the creation of a separate parish for Bodelwyddan away from the neighbouring "mother" parish of St Asaph to which the church commissioners eventually agreed. However the irony is that Lady Margaret would never know that problems of identity would continue into the 20th century as the newly formed parish that seemed stable enough within the county of Flintshire, changed hands to Clwyd in 1974 and then Denbeighshire in 1996.

(Anglesey) Marble Arch !!
The church contains a rich variety of marble with examples from Sicily, Belgium, France, Ireland, England and Anglesey.

J_on_tour obsession !!  ... Chester, Bangor, Sheffield and now "Bodz" !
Not short of cash, Lady Margaret employed Mr T.H. Kendall of Warwick to create the lecturn at a cost of £600 with 6,000 carving hours ! He came highly recommended as he had previously worked on some dining room walls in the House of Commons and at Sandringham.

Pulpit carving
East window
I must apologise to those of you who want to see more images of the church interior. As you may have guessed from the first location, it was difficult to photograph "people free" subjects as we were on a tight time schedule. Once again my camera data told me that I was here for the longer time of ... 19 minutes !!

The area around the church became famous for another two reasons, one of which we didn't have time to see and the other that I didn't have time to see. The owners of Kinmel Hall, next door to the church, allowed part of their grounds to be converted into a camp as a staging post for the return home of Canadian soldiers from World War 1. Unfortunately they survived the combat but not the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918 - 19 within the camp and 83 were consequently buried in the churchyard due to pneumonia and influenza.

The story doesn't end there as some of the survivors were due to be taken home but their ship was diverted to Russia for food supply reasons in one of the many sailing delays they endured. A riot ensued amongst the 20,000 soldiers and 5 were killed and buried in St Margaret's churchyard next door. The Canadian authorities always denied the theory of mutiny and after months of research in Canada and Wales, a lawyer (Mr Kent) from Toronto confirmed that mutiny was not the cause.

There was nearly mutiny when I heard that we were going to visit the second Woollen mill in two days at Llannerch Park just south of St Asaph !!
The driver redeemed himself though when this was the opportune moment for a lunch stop in the adjoining cafe. While the rest of coach party looked around the large warehouse shop, I opted to go outside and view some garden furniture and plants !!

It's not 6th or 19th century, so let's start again !! ......


  1. Hi Jay, Really interesting and informative post - well photographed as ever. St Trillo's chapel looks to be a tiny gem

    Kind Regards

  2. That top church looks really fascinating, I must try and visit it!

  3. I prefer small churches like this over huge/grand ones. For me, it's more "close" and "intimate" with Him.

    I enjoyed reading this esp the history part. Very engaging read. I learned a lot.

    Wonderful photos as always.

  4. I always enjoy reading the history of your visits. Too bad about your short photography time at these wonderful places! I would not have liked that at all!

  5. Great photos even if you did not have much time, and to learn the history as well. What, you didn't want to look around the woolen mill?

  6. Wow! I love posts like this, and I can't get enough of those stone buildings and small, out-of-the-way churches. That tiny church - with little light coming in. I try to imagine what it was like for the people who lived there at the time it was first built. What a struggle for survival against an environment of stone! I do appreciate all the great pictures, even with your limited time. :-)
    Factory outlets, are they everywhere?? I wonder how the height of the steeple at St. Margaret's compares to that of Salisbury Cathedral. And I'm trying to figure out how much an hour (in UK currency) that carver got paid. Tuppence? Two shillings? A florin? (your money is a mystery to me). Hard to get a good carver for that kind of money these days. ;-)

  7. As all your posts, very informative and as for me coming from "another world"..
    Your images are beautiful and going to the last detail..
    Thank you, dear J..

  8. I think this was a great trip and your photos are so lovely, J_on_tour!


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