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.
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 town along with a judicial system with a court and a prison, the more there was a need for a solid church with defensive features. From this period comes the oldest stone part of the buildind, that is tower. It also served as a defensive shelter and perhaps a watchtower.
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 of St. Michael from the 13th century, was a four-sided tower with narrow openings in the ground floor. From the south, it was adjacent to a rectangular nave, which in the fourteenth century was enlarged from the east by a slightly narrower chancel of similar length.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the northern aisle was added, which doubled the capacity of the church. From the west it was adjacent to the tower, while in the east it had a common façade with the presbytery, although it was covered with a separate gable roof. Inside, it was opened with two arcades on the presbytery and a single one on the nave. It is known that in the Middle Ages the presbytery of the church was decorated with a canopy, and it was separated from the nave by a rood screen. The walls were probably decorated with paintings.
The oldest part of the church that has survived to this day is the tower, although its upper part comes from the expansion period in the 15th / 16th or 17th century. Completely modern elements are the western porch and the sacristy on the south side. The 13th-century effigy of Elizabeth Ferrers, wife of Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, has survived to this day. There is also a 14th-century tomb with a cross and 15th-century stained glass windows.
Salter M., The old parish churches of North Wales, Wolverhampton 1993.
Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website cpat.demon.co.uk, Church of St Michael , Caerwys.