St Deiniol's Church, Hawarden

button-theme-crimeSt Deiniol's Church, Hawarden

Christian worship was reputedly established here by St Deiniol in the 6th century. The church is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The oldest parts of the current building are thought to date from the 13th century.

According to legend, in 946AD an icon of the Virgin Mary in the church fell from its fixings, hitting and killing Lady Trawst of Hawarden Castle. The icon was tried for murder before a jury and punished by being discarded in the river Dee!

The church was damaged by Parliamentarian troops in 1643. In 1857 fire destroyed the main roofs, organ and many fittings – just a year after a major restoration. The tower survived and the 18th-century bells were re-hung. Celebrity architect Sir George Gilbert Scott designed the next rebuild, which included the spire and was finished in July 1859.

hawarden_church_rug_by_isla_gladstonePrime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, of Hawarden Castle, contributed to the £6,000 restoration fund. In 1896 he and his family were sharing a pew with Dr Edward Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, when the archbishop suddenly became ill. He soon died in the nearby rectory.

Gladstone and his wife Catherine are commemorated in the Gladstone Memorial Chapel, consecrated in 1902. In the porch is a memorial to their youngest daughter Helen, who campaigned to improve education for girls and women and had a house built in Hawarden for her retirement.

The unusual rug before the altar (pictured right) was designed by Isla Gladstone, granddaughter in law of WE Gladstone and an accomplished artist and designer.

North of the church is the grave of Thomas Ryan, who survived the “Charge of the Light Brigade” in 1854. The fiasco occurred when a communications error sent lightly armed soldiers to attack Russian artillery during the Crimean War. Thomas died in 1908, aged 88.

Many of the 48 Second World War graves in the churchyard are those of young airmen who died accidentally while learning to fly Spitfires and other planes at RAF Hawarden airfield.

The nine First World War graves include that of Lieutenant William Glynne Charles Gladstone, killed in France in 1915, aged 29. He was MP for Kilmarnock Burghs and grandson of WE Gladstone. The church’s rood screen is a memorial to him. Unusually, his body was repatriated for burial – an act which prompted the authorities to ban repatriation of war dead because equal treatment for all was impractical.

With thanks to Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and Adrian Hughes

Postcode: CH5 3LT    View Location Map

Parish website

Detailed church history – CPAT website

 

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