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St Marcella's Church is set in the Vale of Clwyd, less than one mile from the town of Saint Marcella's Church DenbighDenbigh for which it was the parish church throughout the medieval period. The church is also known as Llanfarchell in Welsh, and Whitchurch or Eglwyswen after its original white-washed exterior that could be seen from miles around, including from the town of Denbigh itself.

St Marcellas is in a glorious location with views across the vale toward the rolling hills of the Clwydian range of mountains, and one can understand why its patron saint Marchell the Virgin would have established her hermitage here in the 7th Century. Treasured as the parish church for many years St Marcella's was lavishly rebuilt in the local double-naved style during the late 15th century, with an imposing tower and a noble range of big ‘Perpendicular’ style windows.

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It was supplanted as Denbigh's parish church by St Hilary's, located above the town centre, and from 1828 only burial services were held here. In the early 20th Century it was restored, pews were removed, plaster cleared, the screen restored, monuments cleaned, window masonry repaired as was the tower, and timber work renewed.

But the exterior is more than matched by an equally impressive interior. Slender central pillars and finely moulded arches rise to a pair of grand hammer-beamed roofs, panelled and decked with angels. They rest on stone corbels sculpted with beasts and more angels, and a stone frieze also exuberantly decorated with flowers and heads and grotesques – a boy pulling a donkey’s tail, a fox and hare – all recently and vividly re-painted.

The rear view showing the double nave style common in this areaMonuments to the great and good of Denbighshire populate the floor of the church. These include a magnificent painted alabaster monument of Sir John Salusbury (d.1578) and his wife Jane; another monument depicts Humphrey Llwyd (d.1568) Member of Parliament and scholar; while a brass monument depicts Richard Myddelton (d.1575) with his wife and their sixteen children, one of whom became Lord Mayor of London.

Ironically at the back of the north aisle is a memorial to Twm o'r Nant, (the Welsh Shakespeare) an 18th Century Welsh poet, actor, farmer, stone mason, and bankrupt who made what money he had by satirizing the likes of his other church-bed-fellows and gentle folk.  Twm o'r Nant died in 1810 and lies in the churchyard, where many still visit his grave.

St Marcella's Church is open the first Saturday of each month 10.00 am – noon, Easter to October inclusive.

Directions:    [ Map of St Marcella's Church location  ]
From the A55 take the A525 south near St Asaph at junction 27. Follow the A525 to the roundabout on the outskirts of Denbigh. Bear left and continue on the A525 to the Ruthin Road roundabout. Bear left along Ffordd Eglwyswen.

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Please - click on the pictures - for enlarged pictures of St Marcella's Church, Denbigh © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings

View from the centre of Denbigh town The pastoral setting of St Marcellas Church Denbigh
View of the church from the centre of Denbigh town  
The pastoral setting of St Marcellas Church Denbigh

Related tourist information links :

Denbigh Town > Denbigh Town and Country Walk >

Ruthin > Rhuddlan > Mold >

Wales tourist information Map >>

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