Enjoy Medieval Denbighshire

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Site 11

Rug Chapel

Near Corwen

While not strictly ‘medieval’, Rug Chapel should not be missed by any visitor to the treasures of medieval Denbighshire. This gem of a building strikingly preserves the spirit of late medieval church decoration, exuberantly demonstrating what local painters and carpenters could do when given free rein by a wealthy patron who scorned Puritan simplicity. Such was Colonel William Salesbury, nicknamed ‘Old Blue Stockings’ and later famed as the Royalist defender of Denbigh Castle, who commissioned the private chapel in 1637.

Modest in its garden setting, the exterior gives no warning of the richness within. There almost every available timber surface is either carved or painted, and frequently both. Most spectacular of all is the roof, panelled and coloured from end to end, decked with cut-out angels, and lined with a frieze of flowers and beasts. Even more carved animals (real and imaginary) play among the foliage of the bench ends. Carved and canopied family pews flank the altar, looking westward through the (later) carved screen towards the painted cherub chandelier and the turned, carved, painted and marbled parapet of the gallery. More soberly, a rare 17th century wall painting with skeleton, skull and hourglass reminds viewers (in Welsh verse) that time flies by and life is short. Rug Chapel itself meanwhile survives to remind us how colourful many Welsh churches were, before either Puritans or Victorian restorers had their way with them.

Open May - September 10.00 am - 5.00 pm.

Closed Monday & Tuesday except Bank Holiday weekends.

Entrance charge.

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Detail of a wall frieze: CADW

Detail of a wall frieze: CADW

Rug Chapel: CADW

Rug Chapel: CADW

Rug Chapel: CADW