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Flintshire Churches Survey

Church of St Deiniol , Hawarden

Hawarden Church is in the Diocese of St Asaph, in the community of Hawarden in the county of Flintshire. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SJ3154565919.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16792 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Hawarden Church, CPAT copyright photo 559-16.JPG


First recorded in Domesday Book, the large church of St Deiniol may retain some 13thC fabric in the chancel, while the nave and aisles together with a chancel arch are of 14thC date and the central tower and Whitley Chapel are from the following century. It has two chapels at the east end, that on the north containing the Gladstone tomb and the Whitley Chapel to the south holding good examples of 17th and 18thC monuments. The building was restored in 1855-6, but almost immediately damaged by fire, so that a second restoration, by Sir Gilbert Scott, was required. It is sited on raised ground, within a polygonal churchyard.

The east end of the chancel is believed to be part of a church erected in 1272 and its axis deviates slightly from that of the nave. The nave with its blind clerestories, aisles and arcades dates from the 14thC, but it seems probable that most of the stonework both outside and perhaps inside has been refaced, presumably in the 19thC. The piers and arches that support the central tower are of different character and have been attributed to the 15thC, as has the Whitley Chapel on the south side of the church. The upper part of the tower is clearly Perpendicular.

Scott restored the church in Decorated style in 1857-9. North-east porch added in 1896, the Gladstone Chapel in 1901-3, and the north-east vestry in 1910.

Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1986 publication The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd by Edward Hubbard


The church is said to have been founded by St Deiniol, a 6thC monk at Bangor-is-y-coed. A legend reports that in AD 946, the statue of the Virgin on the rood loft fell on the head of Lady Trawst, wife of the Governor of Hawarden Castle, and killed her. The statue was tried by jury and condemned to be thrown into the River Dee, eventually being washed up at the Roodee in Chester. An early medieval origin for Hawarden church seems assured from its appearance in Domesday Book; and in AD 1093, the Earl of Chester granted a tithe to St Werburgh's Abbey at Chester. In 1257, Roger de Mantalt, Baron of Hereford, restored certain lands to the Abbey in return for which he was granted the living at Hawarden. (From then until 1957 it had the legal right of 'Peculiar', exempting it from the control of the Chester bishopric).

There is an unsubstantiated claim that a new church, of which a small part only seems to survive, was built in 1272.

The church is recorded in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 as 'Ecclia de Haworthin' with a value of 13s 6s 8d..

Considerable building works took place in the 14thC and 15thC.

In 1632 and 1638 alterations and repairs were made to the roof, but in 1643 much damage was done by Parliamentarian troops. Further repairs were made to the church in 1671.

Five bells, possibly of 16thC date, were sold in 1742 and six new ones were cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester.

In 1733-4, the churchyard walks were flagged and the wall repaired. Thirty years later, the nave and aisles were re-pewed, replacing old benches; flagstones replaced rushes, a west end gallery was removed, the walls and pillars were plastered, and the roofs painted and windows enlarged.

In 1810 an organ was placed in a new organ gallery erected under the west window. This gallery was enlarged in 1825 and in 1836 the organ was replaced by a newer one.

In 1816, Mr Dundas of Aston Hall gave up the Whitley Chapel at the east end of the south aisle to provide more accommodation in the church. Considerable restoration work was undertaken in the following year on the chapel, including the emplacement of new doors, windows, roof, floor and pews at a cost of 1416, and further work was conducted on other parts of the church. Thomas noted that the rood screen with its loft which had been approached from the outside was removed.

Hawarden was exempt from episcopal jurisdiction until 1849, and held its own consistory courts in the Whitley Chapel.

The 1855-6 restoration was to the design of James Harrison of Chester. Open benches replaced the pews, the chancel was re-seated with carved oak stalls, and stained glass was introduced into several windows. Hubbard felt that the reticulated tracery in the aisles might be due to Harrison. In the following year (1857) fire destroyed the roofs of the nave, chancel and aisles and also the organ gallery, pulpit, screen and other fittings. Little damage was inflicted on the inside of the chancel and the Whitley chapel, and the tower remained untouched. Some woodwork and stained glass survived at the east end.

Rebuilding work to the design of Sir Gilbert Scott began immediately and included the addition of a spire to the tower. An organ chamber was added to the north side of the chancel and the south porch was built. The work was completed in 1859.

The Whitley Hall Chapel was later restored as a morning chapel at the expense of Henry Hurlbutt in 1884.

In 1902, the Gladstone Memorial Chapel was consecrated; the organ was removed from the north aisle and re-sited on the south side. The old organ chamber was enlarged, its north and east walls were rebuilt and a groined roof added over the three-side apse to facilitate the Gladstone memorial. Iron screens were added under the arcades opening to the north aisles and the chancel from the chapel.

A new vestry was built on to the north side of the chancel in 1910 and in 1913, the rood was introduced as a memorial to Lt. W.G. Gladstone. In 1951 the stone and marble pulpit was removed to Bettws Cedewain (Montgomeryshire) and a new oak pulpit was imported.


The church consists of a nave and chancel, with north and south aisles forming a rectangular plan and a tower above the central crossing. The chancel has a parallel south chapel extending to the south-east, and the Gladstone Chapel and vestry on the north side. It is oriented almost exactly east to west.

Fabrics:- 'A' - a mix of regularly cut sandstone ashlar blocks, probably from the Ewloe Quarries. Mainly red sandstone but some yellow; ranging from medium-sized square blocks to large rectangular blocks, coursed, variable weathering. 'B' is of small to medium blocks of irregular brown and pink sandstone; random coursing. 'C' is of small to medium blocks of homogeneous red sandstone; irregularly coursed. 'D' is finer grained sandstone used for repair work.

'B' is of 15thC date. 'A' is claimed to be from the 14thC and from later centuries but might conceivably be ashlar facing of more recent date. 'C' is late 19thC/early 20thC. 'D' is modern.

Roofs:- slate with grey ceramic ridge tiles, and in places lead. Flat asphalt roof to the vestry. Cross finials at the west end of the nave and on the south chapel, and formerly at the east end of the chancel and on the south-west porch.

Drainage:- lead guttering and cisterns lead to soakaways. Some decorated cisterns with 1923 dates. Flower beds on the north and west sides, and rough paving on the south side of the nave, so no obvious drainage trench.


General. There is a hollow-moulded basal plinth, splayed at the base, less than 1m above ground level and continuous around the main body of the church, except for the most easterly bay of the north aisle.

North aisle - General. A lean-to extension to the nave creating a consistent slope to the roof; battlemented parapet which is not original. In 'A', the stone both pink and red; and the buttresses the same other than their coping stones.

North wall:- four bays defined by three stepped buttresses and a diagonal buttress at the north-west angle, while the projecting tower stair lies at the east end. Three bays with 19thC Decorated windows, the second from the west with a north door. The windows in deep red sandstone each consist of a two-centred arch over paired cusped, ogee-headed lights with a multifoil above, and have moulded jambs. The north doorway has a two-centred arch, moulded jambs and a hoodmould with simple stops. Above it is a canopied niche containing a statue of the Virgin Mary. There is a lampholder west of the most westerly window, and a castellated chimney rises above the most easterly buttress. Further east is the tower staircase set in a square, battlemented turret built in 'A', with a shouldered arch and chamfered jambs to a doorway in the north wall which looks to be 19thC. The turret itself has a single small two-centred window with chamfered dressings in its north wall.

West wall:- contains a window with a two-centred arch over two cusped, ogee-headed lights with an irregular tracery light above, all in buff-brown sandstone with moulded dressings for the frame and buff sandstone for the window dressings. Not original but perhaps not of the same period as the windows in the north and south walls.

Gladstone Chapel - General. 1902 apsidal addition in 'C' at the east end of the north aisle, and rising above the adjacent vestry to the east. Apart from the basal plinth there is a string course at sill level, another which is integrated with the window hoodmould, and a third above window level; battlemented. On the north side a straight buttress abuts the stair turret to the west and there is a short two-centred three-light window; the lights are cusped and two-centred with an elongated quatrefoil above, and a hoodmould with a waterspout at the apex. A diagonal north-east buttress. In what is effectively a second storey the apse sides have single and double lights of simple design and there is also a segmental-headed alcove.

Vestry - General. Constructed in 'C' in 1908-9. Battlemented all round with a continuous string course below.

North wall:- plinthed at between 0.5-1.2m above ground level. It has a single window with three trefoiled lights and further east two frameless windows with two trefoiled lights cut into single lintel stones.

East wall:- a segmental-headed arch to the doorway.

Nave - General. Only the west end is visible.

West wall:- two stepped buttresses to either side of the west door and window. Over the doorway is a label and to either side of the door, which is two-centred with moulded jambs incorporating foiled decoration, there are carved spandrels. This doorway is Perpendicular but completely renewed, probably by Scott. The window above has a wide two-centred arch over four cusped, ogee-headed lights with multifoils above, all in red sandstone.

Chancel - General. In 'A'.

North wall:- visible above the vestry are three windows of slightly different size but of the same general design as those in the north aisle, and a buttress. However, the window to the east is in pale buff freestone, the others in red. The fabric at the east end of this wall is in buff sandstone, a variation on 'A', but further west it could be 'B' though this might be packing around later windows.

East wall:- the wall is all in the paler 'A' type stone seen at the end of the north wall and is in remarkably good condition. A plinth between 0.4m and 0.7m rising to the north side as the ground slopes away, and a string course which continues uninterruptedly across the Whitley Chapel to the south. A plain parapet accentuates the eastern roofline as at the west end. There is a narrow window with a two-centred arch over three lights, the centre one a cinquefoiled ogee-headed light, the outer ones with triangular heads; hoodmould. A 19thC window with packing around it. A large red sandstone tablet below the window depicts the Ascension.

Whitley Chapel - General. Externally this appears as a sloping extension to the chancel, but it has a higher roofline than the south aisle, with a battlemented parapet on the south side but plain on the east with a moulded string course below.

East wall:- a two-centred window, the arch of red sandstone over three stepped, cusped ogee-headed lights, the mullions carrying on to form sub-arches; hoodmould and head stops. All 19thC and with obvious packing around it. The plinth at the base of the wall is about 0.1m below that on the adjacent chancel wall. The lower part of the wall and the south-east exhibits a concrete-render skin but much of the rest of the wall in 'A'-type masonry looks remarkably fresh.

South wall:- plinth at about 1m+ high at the east end. From the east: i) bay which is built in 'B' to the level of the window springers, with east quoins of the same material. It contains a 19thC window with a rather flat two-centred arch and three cusped, two-centred lights, with tracery lights above, all in buff freestone. ii) a large stepped buttress in 'A'. iii) a window as in i). iv) porch. v) another window. Only the first window is supported on projecting blocks in corbel fashion.

West wall:- all in 'A' and abuts the south aisle wall. This wall has a second plinth at c.3m+ above ground level though for no obvious reason.

South aisle - General. Similar to the north aisle in that it appears as a sloping extension to the nave with a battlemented parapet on the south side; a moulded string course below the parapet on all walls.

South wall:- windows as in the north wall, with the second bay occupied by the south door (and its porch). A diagonal buttress at the south-west corner and a single buttress between the two windows east of the porch. Between the porch and the window to its west the masonry appears less regular than 'A' elsewhere and might conceivably be original?

West wall:- a window which is a smaller version of those in the south wall, though in brown freestone.

Porch (south-east) - General. An open porch, giving access to the Whitley Chapel and constructed in 1896 by Douglas and Fordham in memory of W.H. Gladstone, son of the Prime Minister. A short gable contains kneeling angels in low relief, either side of a figure of Christ in a canopied niche. Underneath is a two-centred doorway with a hoodmould that continues as a string course along the east and west walls. Stepped buttresses at the south corners extend the south wall face.

Porch (south-west) - General. In 'A' and rebuilt in 1857, again with stepped buttresses extending the south wall face.

East wall:- two trefoiled lights set in a square-headed frame with sunken spandrels; some of the dressings look original, perhaps earlier than the porch itself?

South wall:- contains a two-centred red sandstone doorway, effectively of two orders, with a hoodmould and a pair of wrought iron gates. Above the doorway is a canopied niche with a statue of St Deiniol. Stepped buttresses at the corners.

West wall:- as east wall, but the frames and dressings all renewed with the exception of one light head.

Tower - General. The central tower rises above the easternmost bay of the nave. It has a continuous string course below the belfry windows on all sides and another just below the battlemented parapet. A short lead-covered spire, originally with hipped lucarnes, was added to the Perpendicular tower by Scott.

North wall:- the belfry window has a two-centred arch over a pair of trefoiled, two-centred, louvred lights and a transom with two-centred trefoiled lights beneath.

East wall:- as north wall.

South wall:- as north wall but with a clock face beneath the window.

West wall:- as north wall.


Porch - General. Rebuilt in 1857. Flagged floor, stonework exposed on all walls, and the roof supported on three tie beams with a foliate motif on the centre of each soffit, arch braces to the ridge purlin and vertical struts; exposed rafters.

North wall:- a square-headed frame to the south door of the church with carved spandrels and a two-centred inner arch. All in 19thC pink sandstone, though Perpendicular in style and possibly a renewal by Scott. Three steps up to the door.

East and west walls:- stone benches with the seats of re-used grave slabs below the window apertures. These have weathered light buff sandstone dressings and also some replacement, but some of the dressings look original and probably indicate that the medieval windows were re-used. A wooden plaque of c.1925 on the east wall.

North aisle - General. Woodblock floor with raised wooden floors below the benches. Walls of exposed stonework: sandstone ashlar. For the first three bays of the north aisle there is a sloping roof of four panelled sections defined by three sloping, moulded arch-braced trusses resting on stone corbels and intermediate moulded beams with exposed rafters and purlins. At the eastern end of the fourth roof section is a two-centred arch truss with an open spandrel on its south side, using the wall and the pillar as supports. Beyond this is a further bay of the north aisle with two more roof sections of similar form to the rest of the north aisle. A children's corner at the west end of the aisle.

North wall:- north doorway with segmental head to the reveal. Brasses of 1691, 1757, 1764, 1871 and 1900; two 20thC marble memorials and a 20thC metal plaque to Viscount Gladstone (d.1930).

East wall:- a high, narrow, two-centred archway of late 19thC date opens to the Gladstone Memorial Chapel. A late 19thC marble plaque adjacent, and below this is a piscina with an ogee head, fashioned from a single block of sandstone. The recess is shallow and without a drain hole, but the dressings are original. However, it is probably not its original position.

South wall:- a 14thC four-bay arcade with high two-centred chamfered arches of two orders springing from two plain octagonal stone piers with moulded capitals and bases to match, and a western respond. The piers were refaced or perhaps even rebuilt by Scott in 1858, though the arches retain their original appearance in pale sandstone. The third pier from the west is a ringed column which forms the base of the 15thC tower, and its associated arch is to a different design for this fourth bay opens on to the tower 'crossing' and has a two-centred arch of different design: it has a broader soffit and the springers have foliate decoration which could be original.

West wall:- in the window embrasure some of the internal dressings to the window itself look as though they could be original, particularly the jambs. Some of the stone facing on this wall could be re-used.

Gladstone Memorial Chapel - General. Developed in 1902 but formerly a small 19thC organ chamber. Sandstone ashlar with a rib-vaulted roof with heavily decorated bosses and a three-sided apse. Marble floor. It was built to house the monument to William Ewart Gladstone and his wife Catherine. There is a metal plaque on the north wall and two 20thC marble plaques on the north side of the archway reveal which it shares with the north aisle.

Nave - General. Woodblock floor with raised planked floors below benches. Exposed stonework as the north aisle. The roof has six bays with seven, moulded, principal trusses; there are three tie-beam trusses with king posts and cusped raking struts, and four arch-braced collar trusses, the collars immediately beneath the ridge purlin. The arch-braced trusses on wooden terminals are corbelled out further than the tie-beams. The tie-beams have decorative bosses on their soffits. Two tiers of cusped windbraces, and rafters. All a 19thC construction.

North wall:- see south wall of north aisle above. Original stonework to the wall.

East wall:- a two-centred arch of standard crossing type (see north aisle and below) and with decorated springers.

South wall:- as the north wall.

West wall:- the west door has a square frame, while the reveal has a segmental arch. A dado to either side of the west door rising to the sill level of the west window embrasure.

Tower 'crossing' - General. Not a genuine crossing for the church does not have transepts. The ceiling has nine wooden panels defined by solid oak beams supported on stone corbels. Crosses are carved into the beams at the intersections. Each of the arches has foliate decoration on the springers, a 19thC embellishment.

North wall:- two-centred arch (see south wall of the north aisle). A 20thC inscription on one of the piers.

East wall:- the base of the tower abuts the walls of the earlier church. The chancel arch is two-centred and of three orders, the innermost supported on vine leaf corbels which must be 19thC. There is a rood beam and rood of 1913 above it, and above this on the stonework of the wall are the pitch lines of the earlier roof. At the base of the north side of the chancel arch are the exposed but largely unintelligible remains of an 'Easter Sepulchre', consisting of a small alcove with stones set in it.

South wall:- as north wall, and also with one 20thC inscription, and against the south-east pillar a 20thC marble memorial with a canopy over it.

West wall:- arch which in form is similar to that in the north wall.

Chancel - General. The chancel on the same level as the nave but the sanctuary is two steps above the chancel, and there are three staggered steps to the altar. There is a woodblock floor with planks under the benches. Exposed stonework. much of which is presumed to be 19thC. A four-bay, vaulted ceiling formed by five two-centred arches sprung from stone corbels forming three plain panelled bays with raised ribs over the chancel and more decorative panels over the sanctuary; fifty panels per bay.

North wall:- a two-centred arch of two orders to the Gladstone Chapel, and a rather flat two-centred arch to the vestry, with decorative 'bosses' on the hollowed chamfers. One marble memorial of 1693, brasses of 1683 and 1740/1, one 19thC stone memorial, one 19thC marble example and three 19thC brasses.

East wall:- stone reredos with flanking decorated wooden panels.

South wall:- two-centred arches with trefoiled tracery over the piscina and a triple sedilia renewed in 1846 but said to reflect an Early English original; a brass plate above the sedilia records the Rev Henry Glynne (d.1873). The rest of the wall is pierced by a three-bay arcade of two-centred arches of two orders on octagonal stone piers with east and west responds, all supposedly 19thC. Eight memorial plates are affixed to the piers, all 19thC and 20thC except for one of 1770.

West wall:- above the chancel arch are signs of the earlier and low-pitched roof line which Hubbard thought Perpendicular. Above this but not central is a blocked window. It probably has chamfered dressings but is largely hidden behind the chancel roof timbers. On the wall to the north of the arch two 20thC marble memorials to members of the Gladstone family.

Vestry - General. From 1908/9. Woodblock floor, exposed sandstone walls, and plastered ceilings. In practice two vestries separated by a panelled screen with a castellated head. Access is from the chancel through a slightly rounded arch with Tudor rose mouldings; six steps down to the vestry level.

South aisle - General. Floor, walls and roof as the north aisle. The organ extends from this part of the church into the Whitley Chapel.

North wall:- the four-bay arcade parallels that of the north aisle. The last bay to the east gives onto the 'crossing' as on the north side. A 19thC inscription on the western respond.

East wall:- a two-centred arch now filled by the organ.

South wall:- the south doorway reveal is splayed and has a segmental arch. On the walls marble memorials of 1592, 1736 and two of the 19thC; three marble plaques listing the rectors and is dated 1898; a plaque of the Incorporated Society for Building and Churches from the 1858 rebuilding; and a 20thC wooden memorial.

West wall:- window only.

Whitley Chapel - General. Woodblock floor and some raised benches. Walls plastered and painted. Roof of six moulded tie-beams with vertical struts, on stone corbels, with exposed rafters and purlins. A double concave stone corbel runs the full length of the chapel on the north side supporting the roof. It has been suggested that this feature is of 13thC date.

North wall:- arcade (see south wall of chancel).

East wall:- the reredos has a panelled base and upper traceried panels, with castellated frieze which then continues along the north and south walls. The east window in red sandstone has flanking wall paintings of angels playing harps

South wall:- effigy of Sir Stephen Glynne below a window. Also a figured brass of 16/17thC date, brasses of 1667 and 1686, a marble monument of 1722, and a marble plaque recording the renovation of the chancel in 1884.


The churchyard is polygonal and was extended northwards in 1849 and 1865. A more modern cemetery was added 1912. Well maintained.

Boundary:- stone wall on all sides.

Monuments:- gravemarkers on all sides of the church and a large number of re-sited stones around the boundary walls on the south and east. 18thC slabs, and 20thC burials included within the original burial ground. The earliest gravestone seen was of 1761, south of the Whitley Chapel though earlier ones may exist.

Furniture:- a large sandstone baluster pedestal for a sundial, but no dial or gnomon; south of the nave. A circular sandstone bowl - possibly a stoup? - on a tapering stem, located next to a chest tomb close to the south chapel wall.

Earthworks:- the church appears to be set on a platform, the ground dropping away to north and south, and a little to east and wet. It is not clear whether this is a result of rebuilding on the site or perhaps an earlier boundary. The churchyard raised on the north by perhaps 1m and by 2m on the east.

Ancillary features:- main south entrance gates set in sandstone pillars constructed by Douglas in 1877. The north-west lychgate was built by Sir Herbert Baker in 1929. Flagstones around three sides of the church, a concrete path to the new burial ground to the north, a tarmac path to the south entrance. A possible hearse house in the south-west corner, built in sandstone with a date of 1906 in the gable.

Vegetation:- the oldest yews to either side of the south porch; and a large number of 19thC yews. Also conifers, holly and deciduous species.

Sources consulted

Church Guide 1987
CPAT Field Visits: 12 November 1996 and 4 December 1998
Crossley and Ridgway 1945, 189
Faculty: St Asaph 1849 (NLW): extension of churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1865 (NLW): extension of churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1902 (NLW): memorial chapel
Faculty: St Asaph 1912 (NLW): extension of churchyard
Faculty: St Asaph 1925 (NLW): straightening of churchyard boundaries
Flintshire County Record Office: D/BJ/947 (1671): D/BJ/G9-9113 (1733/4)
Hubbard 1986, 366
RCAHMW 1912, 39
Quinquennial Report 1985
Thomas 1911, 374
Click here to view full project bibliography

Please note that many rural churches are closed to the public at certain times. It is advisable to check when the church will be open before visiting. Information about access, or how to contact parish clergy, can often be obtained from the relevant Diocesan Office which can be found through the Church in Wales website. Further information about Hawarden Church may also be found on the St Asaph Diocese website.

The CPAT Flintshire Churches Survey Project was funded by Cadw as part of an all Wales survey of medieval parish churches.

This HTML page has been generated from the Cadw Churches Survey database & CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record - 17/07/2007 ( 22:01:55 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 7a Church Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7DL tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email -, website -

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