From central Ruthin or the by-pass, follow signs to ‘Hospital’: after passing this, take the left-hand road at the fork and continue half a mile.
In a tiny rural hamlet a mile or so from the town center, St Meugan’s was the original mother church of the Welsh settlement which became Ruthin. The pretty little 15th-century building (dedicated to a hermit-saint from Carleon in Gwent) contains many notable furnishings – above all the lovely ‘rood screen’ whRegionich once supported a ‘rood’ or crucifix (see Derwen Site 6). Dating probably from the early 1500s, this fine example of local carpentry is richly carved with intricate tracery, with an ‘ivy-berry’ trail (a Vale of Clwyd specialty) along its upper rail. The Georgian west gallery opposite (for choir and ‘church band’) is an even rarer survival, dated 1721: most such galleries hereabouts were removed by the Victorians. Rarer still is the ornate 17th-century altar table, guarded by rampant lions.
On the walls nearby are the intriguing monuments of the Thelwall family, who came to Ruthin with its de Grey overlords. The oldest depicts Elizabeth John and Jane Thelwall with their ten sons and four daughters, all named and some holding skulls to show that they died before their parents. The ninth son Ambrose is again commemorated by a fine portrait bust: a courtier to three Stuart kings, he retired here in the ‘troublesome times’ of Republican rule and died in 1653.
In the churchyard (not far from the south porch) stands the decorated nine-foot shaft of a medieval preaching cross: and in the north-east corner is the gravestone of ‘Alfred Corbett, Tramp’ a popular figure who died in 1947. A good guidebook is available in the church.
St Meugan’s church open by appointment.
Contact the Cloisters on (01824) 702068
Ivy-berry trail, Llanrhydd
Detail of Thelwall family monument
19th-century engraving of the Vale of Clwyd: Denbighshire Record Office
Thelwall family monument