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St Peter's Church

St Peter’s Church was founded by John de Grey in 1310 as a ‘collegiate’ church - which is to say a church staffed by a community (Latin ‘collegium’) of priests, in this case seven. It has been much altered since then, particularly by a Victorian restoration in 1854 - 9, when its ‘trademark’ spire - the only spire in the Vale of Clwyd - was also added. Within, the most immediately striking feature of St Peter’s is that it is ‘double-naved’, consisting of two rectangles of equal length, built side by side and divided by a row of pillars. This arrangement resulted when them originally ‘single rectangle’ church was laterally doubled in size in the late 14th century. Uncommon elsewhere in Britain, this double-naved form was much favoured in the Vale of Clwyd, becoming a distinctive local style. There are no less than 21 such double-naved churches in the district.

Both naves have magnificent timber roofs, added in the early Tudor period (c1500-40). The northern nave roof is particularly elaborate, with decorated beams and over 400 panels carved with an immense variety of devices, flowers, badges and heraldry of baronial families. The later southern roof is simpler, with plain panels but decorated bosses (and a recently painted section near the altar).

Among the many memorials are two monumental brasses - very rare in Wales - on the north nave wall. The single figure depicts Edward Goodman, a cloth merchant who died in 1560, in his robes as Mayor of Ruthin. Unusually he appears again on a second brass with his wife he lived to be 84, she 90) and their eight named children. Their second son, Gabriel Goodman is again commemorated by a strikingly painted bust near the altar. He was a most distinguished cleric, chaplain to Queen Elizabeth’s ‘prime minister’ William Cecil, and Dean of Westminster. A great benefactor to his home town, he founded both a grammar school and a hospital in the ‘close’ behind the church. Goodman also helped finance the Welsh translation of the Bible (see Site 35, St Asaph).

St Peter’s church open April - August 9.00 am - 5.00 pm

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Gabriel Goodman