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Site 43

Llandyrnog

Church of St. Tyrnog

At the heart of a busy village, St.Tyrnog’s is dedicated to a local saint, reputedly a 6th century monk and the brother of St. Marcella of Denbigh and St. Deifar of Bodfari. Like so many big late medieval churches hereabouts, it is double-naved. The church has a most distinctive character, largely due to restoration in 1876 - 8 by the individualistic Victorian architect Eden Nesfield. He rendered it in pinkish pebbledash and left his ‘trademark’ of flowered roundels (‘sunflower pies’) on the plaster and woodwork of the timbered porch, as well as on the choir stalls and other furnishings within.

The outstanding medieval feature here is the stained glass of the big east window, partly re-assembled from fragments found in the parish chest or concealed beneath the floor. Dating from about 1490, the main central panel shows the Crucifixion, with streams of blood flowing from Christ’s body. Each of these once led to a scene depicting one of the ‘Seven Sacraments’ of the medieval church. Such Seven Sacraments windows are extremely rare: this is the sole survivor in Wales, and there are only eight others in England.

On the right of the crucifix, the upper panel shows the sacrament of Ordination of a priest by a bishop, with the sacrament of Marriage below. More fragmentary panels to the left show the sacrament of Extreme Unction (‘Last Rites’) being given to a sick man in a white cap, with a figure knelling before a seated priest to receive Penance above. The remaining sacraments (Mass, Baptism and Confirmation) are lost. Flanking the central panels are figures of apostles, while the upper tracery lights of the window contain a portrait gallery of Welsh and other saints. In the uppermost panels, St. Asaph and St. Deiniol (shown as bishops) flank the Coronation of the Virgin. Below them are a row of female saints: (left to right) St. Marcella of Denbigh; St. Winifred (Gwenfrewi) of Holywell; the Virgin Mary with the angel Gabriel; St. Frideswide of Oxford and St. Catherine - patroness of pregnant women - with her ‘Catherine Wheel’. A helpful guide book - and an exceptionally fine dug-out oak chest - provide further good reasons for visiting this notable church.

Key available for church.

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Detail of 'seven sacrament' window, Llandyrnog