Caerwys – St Michael’s Church


   St. Michael’s church in Caerwys dates back to the end of the 13th century, although earlier temples on this place can reach even Roman times. The earliest written mention of the church comes from 1244, when the Pope chose the church of St. Michael, as a place of trial to decide whether prince Dafydd ap Llywelyn, was forced to sign a treaty with king Henry III. At that time, the temple was still a small timber building. The next mention about the church of St. Michael comes from 1284, when the sum of 60 shillings was paid to the parson Jervasius, as compensation for the loss of tithing and damages inflicted by the soldiers of king Edward I, during his conquest of Wales, two years earlier. From this period comes the oldest stone part of the church, that is tower. It also served as a defensive shelter and perhaps a watchtower.
In 1290 king Edward I granted the Royal Charter to Caerwys. Because the settlement did not have town walls, and the fairs were in the city along with a judicial system with a court and a prison, the more there was a need for a solid temple with defensive features. The church was expanded in the fourteenth century and once again enlarged at the beginning of the fifteenth century. During the Reformation it underwent further changes, including its walls whitewashed. In 1894 a thorough renovation of the church began, the most important element of which was the rebuilding of the eastern wall.


   The oldest element of the church is a four-sided tower from the 13th century with narrow openings in the ground floor and topped with battlement. Its upper part comes from the expansion in the 15th/ 16th or 17th century. In the 14th century, a nave was added to it from the south, and then also a slightly narrower chancel with a length almost equal to the nave. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the northern nave was added, which doubled the capacity of the church. It is known that in the Middle Ages the chancel was decorated with a canopy, and the church was divided by a rood screen. The walls were probably decorated with paintings.
   Until today, the 13th-century tombstone of Elisabeth Ferrers, the wife of Prince of Wales Dafydd ap Gruffydd, survived among the internal equipment. There is also a 14th-century tomb with a cross and windows with stained-glass from the 15th century.

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Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website, Church of St Michael , Caerwys.