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Hope Parish Website | Find out more about St Cynfarch's

Hope Parish Website

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St Cynfarch ChurchOver time several histories of the church have been compiled. In April 2007 a new leaflet was produced using the various sources and is available in the church. The information it contains is set out below.

Hope Parish Church is dedicated to St Cynfarch of the C5th and St Cyngar of the C6th. Both were Celtic saints and descendants of Cunedda.

The Church Through the Ages

The earlier churches on the site would have been of timber construction but we can assume that in the last quarter of the C12th a small stone church was erected, roughly 15`x30`, the centre wall of the south aisle belonging to the early church. The church was extended eastwards in the C13th and to the west in the late C14th. There is evidence of a south pointed doorway under the plaster in the Children’s Corner found during the 1953 restoration (where the organ is now situated).

Millstones in south wall1490 to 1500 saw an extension to the north side. The south wall contains two 4`6``diameter mill-stones of the C13th, taken out of the church. The Crypt is entered from outside the east wall by means of steps – this now houses the central heating boiler.

The original remains of ancient glass of about 1500 were incorporated in the east window in 1730 and illustrate the Te Deum. The south aisle east window was inserted at the 1490-1500 extension, replacing the Early English window. Nearby the bottom portion of the Piscina has been plastered over and only the double recess with plain pointed arches survives.

Effigy of Sir John and Lady TrevorThe south aisle became the Trevor Chapel in the early C17th with the effigies of Sir John Trevor in ermine and period dress; the surrounding 23 coloured badges depict the lineage of the Trevors with the Royal and Noble Tribes of Wales. Sir John was secretary to the Earl of Nottingham who served the Navy in reigns of Elizabeth I and James II and was builder of Plas Teg Hall, Pontblyddyn in 1610. He died aged 67 in 1629. The original timbers in the south aisle dated from 1500 but had to be replaced in the restoration of the year 2000 due to dry rot.

The west window is a memorial to a late Rector, Rev. John Vaughan Lloyd M.A., who died 1859 aged 52, above which the keystone became loose and was replaced in the restoration of 2000. The original north wall was 2’ 6” wide but was entirely re-built to 2’3” in 1825.

The original medieval font is now in Llanfynyddd Church. In 1820 it was given to Rector Neville of Hawarden who placed it in his garden. In 1902 it was later given to St Matthews Church, Buckley and was returned to Hope only to be finally presented to Llanfynydd. The modern font is in Caen stone, costing £25 in 1867 and belongs to the first half of the C17th. It was moved from the top of the west entrance steps to the south aisle in the restoration of 2000 when this area became known as the Lady Chapel. Altar in the Lady ChapelThe new Lady Chapel altar was made from oak taken from the church at this time and was designed and crafted by Mr Edwin Jones of Cefn-y-Bedd.

In 1953 during internal restoration, remains of murals were found on the plastered walls. That of St Christopher appeared on the short south wall and belongs to the early C16th; only fragments in a case now remain of this fresco.
Wall textThe two frescos on the arcade wall consist of unreadable text which did not come into fashion until the early C17th when people were becoming more literate.

The floor of the nave was raised in 1884 and is now 3’ 8” above the west entrance in the tower. The expense of building the nave was borne by the Stanley family, the first Earl of Derby, overlord of Hopedale, Moldsdale and Hawarden and his second wife Margaret Beaufort who lived at the old castle, Hawarden.

The Tower and Bells
The tower was built as an independent structure in three stages to allow for the settlement of a superincumbent mass of stone upon the foundation and was joined to the nave between 1520 and 1560. It is likely that the Third Earl of Derby was the benefactor for the building of the tower, being the only wealthy person in a district devoid of wealth at that time.

The tower houses the bell chamber and the clock mechanism, above which is housed a ring of six bells which are a memorial to those who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and was dedicated in 1921. They are a complete ring of bells from the Loughborough Foundry of John Taylor & Company and are hung in a metal frame made up of steel castings and “H” section steel beams supported on large balks of timber.

The Tenor Bell in G natural, weighs 9cwts : 3 qrs : 24lbs with the inscription:-

The Treble Bell weighs 2cwts:2qrs:25lbs
The Second Bell weighs 3cwts:3qrs:17lbs
The Third Bell weighs 4cwts:3qrs:0lbs
The Fourth Bell weighs 5cwts:3qrs:2lbs
The Fifth Bell weighs 7cwts:0qrs:2lbs

A small Priest’s bell was added in 1966.

Three old bells were melted down when the present ring was cast and bore the following inscription:-
Treble:- JESVS _ BE _ OVR _ SPEED 1623
Tenor:- PE. 1793

The Changing Face of the Church since 1825

The main restorations of the church within the last two centuries are recorded as having been carried out in the following years:-
1825 The north wall of the nave was re-built on the old foundations and Hanoverian windows were substituted for the medieval windows on the north and south walls. The plaster covered ceiling of the aisle was uncovered to reveal the ancient timbered roof.

1852 The Hanoverian windows in the north and south walls were taken out and replaced with modern windows of Gothic character.
1859 The nave was re-roofed, the western gallery demolished and new altar rails were set up. Approximate cost £350
1884 A major restoration was carried out under the architect J.O.Scott, son of Sir Gilbert Scott. The organ was removed from the west end gallery of the nave to the east end of the south aisle. The jambs of the Tower Arch had to be restored owing to the damage done in removing the organ. The church-wardens’ seven feet-high pew and the four feet high box pews were all destroyed and modern seating was substituted. The flag floor of the nave and aisle was raised fifteen inches and re-laid with modern tiles. Two of the east end buttresses were rebuilt and new doors fitted. The work was carried out by E.O.Probert of Glan Aber, Hope and cost approximately £2,000.
1912 The tower was repaired, masonry pointed and walls cleared of ivy. New stone steps were placed in the tower entrance. Cost £160.
1953 A thorough internal restoration of the plastered walls and a complete redecoration took place under the vigilant eye of Rector Rev. E. Hughes M.A. who was responsible for the preservation of the mural paintings discovered at the time.

View of the North Aisle2000 – The Millennium Restoration
This was a major structural and internal restoration. The main problem was found to be that the structure of the south aisle was shifting from that of the north aisle. The church was gutted and the roof removed. The south aisle wall was concrete reinforced from east to west. The nave walls were tied from north to south with steel rods. The South aisle trusses were removed due to dry rot and new oak trusses were fashioned to be exact replicas of each of the old ones. Windows were removed and replaced after structural work was completed. The organ needed to be removed since there was subsidence into the crypt beneath, and it was relocated from the east end of the south aisle to the west end of the south aisle. Floor tiles were removed, the floor levelled and the tiles replaced. Walls were plastered and re-painted, and the font was moved from the top of the west end door steps to the new Lady Chapel. New chairs were purchased for the Lady Chapel and funded by personal donation at £100 each.

The tower too had moved. The parapet was dismantled and re-built; lead flashings replaced; lightning conductor replaced; shutters repaired; stone work repaired; clock movement removed, face painted and replaced after completion; joists and floor repaired; beams steel tied to roof beams!

The total cost for this restoration was over £537,000 and was funded by community fundraising, the National Lottery Heritage grant and a grant from CADW. The work was carried out by Chester Masonry.

Significant Features

During the restoration, in July 200, a square block of stone with the head of a Celtic Cross ws found in a hepa of rubble which had been removed from the arcade wall between the north and south naves, and is dated between 9th century and 11th century.

In December 2013 this was incorporated in the west wall of the south aisle, to the left of the window, a project of the Friends of Hope Church.

It is believed to be part of a carved sandstone slab which was probably used as a grave marker, and the stone is likely to be Cefn-y-Fedw sandstone from the area between Llanymunech and Minera.

It is rare to find carvings like this in North East Wales, though they are common in north west and sout west Wales, in Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. Its Celtic design fits in with the Celtic dedication of the church to St Cyngar and St Cynfarch, and with the rounded churchyard, and it shows no sign of Viking influence despite the proximity of Viking settlement in the Chester area in the early 10th century.

The church is grateful to Professor Nancy Edwards of Bangor University for her help and advice.

The church organThe Organ – The nucleus of the organ originated from an old chamber organ given by Queen Caroline to the Atcherley’s of Cymau Hall. It was given by Miss Lucy Topping, sister-in law to David Francis Atcherley of Cymau Hall and was installed in a gallery at the west end of the church in 1852 (the old harmonium being sold for £4). It was moved to the east end of the south aisle in 1884, was rebuilt in 1905, enlarged in 1911 and as mentioned above was moved in 2000 to the west end of the south aisle due to subsidence into the crypt below.

The Reredos – was erected in 1916 in memory of Rector Thomas Evan Jones 1881-1915 from donations by friends and parishioners.
The Pulpit – is of late Jacobean design with main parts of Tudor style. This type of carving was typical in North Wales until 1700.
The Altar Cross – was presented in 1899 by R.T.B.Atcherley (residing in London at the time) in memory of his aunt, Miss Elizabeth Atcherley of Rhyl who died 1894.
The Tower Clock – 1760 – was a gift from Mr Jones, Coal Chimney’s, Hope and was repaired and re-painted to commemorate the wedding of Rev. John Rowlands and Miss E.A.Frost of Meadowslea, Pen-y-ffordd in 1880.
The O'Connor windowThe O’Connor Window – was originally in the west gable end of the south aisle (behind where the organ now stands) and was installed in memory of Rev. J.Vaughan Lloyd at a cost of £30 in 1860. It was incorporated in the centre window of the south wall during the maintenance of the window in 2003.

The Church Hall.
In 1838 a Church School was built at Bridge End, Caergwrle and after serving its time as a school and then a Church Institute, was sold. In 1985 a school unit was bought and put on the site of the old coach house) which was in sad disrepair. It was clad with stone taken from the old coach house. The stone cross from the roof of the old Church Institute was erected as a feature to front the new Church Hall and so retain a link with the old Church School of bygone years.