St Michael's & All Angels

SJ 112 557

Efenechtyd is a place of serenity and the beautiful church reflects this calm.  Set amongst a cluster of houses in a remote valley near Ruthin, the church sits in a circular churchyard which attests to its great, pre-Conquest heritage as a place of Christian worship.  The name, Efenechtyd refers to its monastic heritage, possibly connected to Llanynys or even Valle Crucis, but the church itself is tiny, some twenty feet wide at best, and one of the smallest in the diocese of St Asaph.  There is even a suggestion of an extension to the east, so this remarkable little church would have been smaller still at some point in the past.

The first thing that strikes you about the tiny church is the door, with its curious spur shaped knocker.  On entering the church itself, you are struck by the glorious simple interior, a refreshing change to the ostentation of many places of worship.  But there are treasures here.

The curious spur shaped knocker - sanctuary requested?

The font is a wonder.  Essentially, it’s a wooden copy of the fashionable stone fonts that were common at one time, but it is one of the most beautiful pieces of work possible.  Hubbard, in, ‘The Buildings of Wales Clwyd’ believes that it has never been reliably dated, though there are strong suggestions to a late medieval, late 14th or early 15th century date, largely since there are similar stone fonts from that time. It is a hollowed out oaken tub font, with the circumference worked into fourteen facets with wonderful proud beading at the base.  A little worn, a little wonky as only wood of a certain age can be, it is utterly splendid, a delight.

The rather wonderful late medieval oaken tub font.

The roof is unusual, with its arched braced principals, curiously alternating with single common rafters.  The altar rail is of an age similar to that of the font, and was probably originally part of a rood screen which has sadly gone.  There is an extremely rare example of wall painted ten commandments which would have been a forceful message to the congregation, probably dating to the Elizabethan age and a rather lovely timber monument to Catherine Lloyd.  The memorial to Joseph Conway, who owned nearby Plas-yn-Llan, displays a blackamoor head, as can also be seen at his house.  There is an illustrated Welsh language bible of 1664 in the church, and it is wonderful to think that it would have been used by the great Elias Owen in his sermons.

Opposite the font and beneath a pew, you will find the Maen Camp, the Feat Stone. Extremely rare now, the Maen Camp was used as part of the games on St Michael’s Day (29th September). Strongmen of the district would attempt to first lift and then throw this huge stone backwards over their heads. More details are included in ‘The Customs of the Parish of Efenechtyd’.

St Michael and All Angels.  Visit - you won't regret it.

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