The Church in Ruabon
first church at Ruabon is believed to have been established in the seventh
century and possible dedicated to St. Collen. It is mentioned in the
Valuation of Norwich in 1254 as the Church of St Collen in Ruabon. Towards
the end of the thirtieth century it came under the Cistercian Abbey of Valle
Crucis in nearby Llangollen. The Church being re-dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin Mary with the Feast of the Assumption on 15th August as its festival.
The current Church tower is a Cheshire-type construction and dates from the
fourteen century. It was extensively "restored" in 1770 and 1870.
A major discovery of a wall painting was made by architect Benjamin Ferrey
in June 1870. The painting appears to date from the first part of the
fifteenth century, with the inscription in Welsh relating to the them the
‘Works of Mercy’. This recurrent medieval morality subject has sometimes
been referred to as the ‘Tree of Life’ or as a ‘Wheel’. Here it is displayed
as a set of seven biblical scenes, including feeding the hungry, giving
drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, receiving strangers. The rest of
the scenes have either partly or completely disappeared.
The Church is also home to one of the finest monumental effigies in Wales,
depicting John ap Elis Eyton and Elizabeth Calverly who died in 1526 and
1524 respectively. He fought at the battle of Bosworth at the side of the
victorious Henry Richmond and was rewarded with large estates in Ruabon and
an annuity of ten marks ‘… in consideration of the time and faithful service
performed for us….in the course of our triumphal victory…..’. The estates
later passed into the hands of the Wynnstay family.
Nothing of note is known about the Church in the seventeenth century. The
most significant parochial act was the Church establishing an endowed
Grammar School in 1618 under the direction of Richard Lloyd who was Vicar at
the time. It became tradition that successive curates to serve the office of
schoolmaster and this continued until well into the ninetienth century. The
original building still stands having been carefully renovated around 1980
into a family home. The troubles of the Civil war divided the loyalties of
the parishioners. An entry in the burial register for 1664 noted ‘All the
rest of the years were lost to the souldioures’ There is a tradition that
Cromwell stayed at Plas Madoc hall less than a mile from the Parish Captain
John Lloyd of Plas Madoc was a Royalist member of the Chester Garrison.
Noted dissenting Parliamentarians were Captain William Wynne who built Wynne
Hall in 1649 and John Kynaston . Sir Thomas Myddleton, throughout the long
wait for the Restoration protected and provided charity for poor scholars,
ejected clergy and their families.
The local Wynnstay influence grew when Sir John Wynn established a definite
link with the Church which he envisaged as a Mortuary Chapel for the house
of Wynnstay and he charged his heirs to erect a monument in the chancel of
the Church. In 1719 this was effected and three Marble monuments ,‘The Wynn
Monument’, were erected for the sum of £450.00.
The restoration and enrichment of the Church took place in 1770 as part of
the preparations for the young forth Baronet, Sir Watkin coming of age. The
estate being free of debt provided an opportunity for the undertaking to be
completed as a partnership between the parish and the Williams Wynn family.
The Church bells were added to and recast in 1768. They were refurbished and
re-hung in 1998 at a cost of £50,000 , the funds being provided by the ‘Land
Fill Tax’ scheme.
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