In the churchyard of St Michael’s in Trelawnyd, against the east wall is a group of table tombs and a rarity, indeed - a hooded tomb. Worn and weathered by the centuries, they lean and list amongst the tall grass and dandelions. Here lay the Wynnes, a family that was at the very beating heart of the village during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Hooded tombs are rare in North Wales - but there are several in Denbighshire and Flintshire. The most fabulous, perhaps in the whole of Wales, is the memorial to Grace Williams of Bersham against the south wall of St Mael and St Sulien’s at Cwm, dated to 1642. But, this would seem to have been the highpoint of the art and beauty of these monuments, since those that followed, including that at Trelawnyd, described by Butler as a ‘rustic version’, show a marked decline in originality and development.
'Rustic' and 'Unscholarly', perhaps - but wonderful. The Trelawnyd Hood Tomb is a rarity in North Wales.
It would seem the fashion came to North Wales slowly, and did not entirely settle. They date from the very end of the 16th century, with an example at Conwy, and it’s likely that the tomb at Trelawnyd is the last of them. The gentry and the rich seem to have rather spent their money on monumental memories within the church, rather than in the yard, but their scarcity makes them a real pleasure to find.
Trelawnyd’s hooded tomb is so very worn now, but it has a splendid, semi-circular canopy running the length of the tomb chest, partly resting on bricks, and is solid backed on its north face, with considerable ornamentation on its reverse, described as ‘unscholarly’ by Hubbard. The tomb chest itself has ornamentation on its sides and panels. Rustic it may be, and lacking the ostentation of the wonder of Cwm, but it remains a remarkable monument.
L. A. S. Butler, The Hooded Tomb in North Wales, Archaeologia Cambrensis, (1973)
E. Hubbard, Buildings of Wales Clwyd, London, (1986)