Ancient churches win major funding to secure future
Substantial building work to improve facilities at three churches in and around Ruthin will begin shortly.
More than £2m will be spent on the three projects which will see investment to create sustainable futures for the churches and the communities they serve.
The first project to begin will be at St Foddhyd Church in Clocaenog, followed by a major transformation of St Peter’s Church in the centre of Ruthin as well as the Old Cloisters next door.
Later this year, work will begin on St Saeran’s Church in Llanynys, one of the oldest and most important buildings in north Wales.
We’re rediscovering our medieval purpose as church and taking inspiration from the past, to step into the future
The Mission Area Leader of Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Area, Father Huw Bryant, said “We’re very excited that work is getting underway to transform some of the most historically significant buildings in our area. This investment is about creating sustainable futures for our churches, so they better serve the needs of their local communities, as well as thriving as places of worship.
“These three projects are part of a plan across the mission area to make all our churches sustainable for the future. By the time these projects are completed, we will have invested over £3m to ensure they are fit for purpose in 21st century Wales.
“Historically, the church has been at the heart of towns and villages and this investment will help them be public spaces and places of sanctuary open to everyone, once again. In many ways, we’re rediscovering our medieval purpose as church and taking inspiration from the past, to step into the future.”
This week work is beginning to replace the roof of St Foddhyd Church in Clocaenog. North Wales based Tyddyn Construction will re-roof the 13th Century building and insulate it ready for a new green heating system. Afterwards, work will move inside, to create a kitchen, add toilets and remove the pews, to make a more flexible space. The building will then be warm and open daily for community use, as well as regular worship.
Next month, a public information event takes place in Ruthin as part of a £1.6m project to transform St Peter’s Church (left) in the centre of the town. The church is one of 10 projects supported by a successful £10.95m bid by Denbighshire County Council to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Plans for St Peter’s include a transformation of the interior to create a flexible space, a meeting room, toilets and a kitchen as well as re-vamping the sanctuary for worship. In addition, sustainable holiday accommodation will be created next door in the Old Cloisters. Three double rooms, including one with accessible facilities, will be available for visitors, pilgrims and tourists to the town.
Fr Huw added, “We know Ruthin and its surrounding area is attractive to tourists and walkers and being able to offer high quality accommodation, which doesn’t remove homes from the already under-pressure local housing stock, is very important in this project.”
At the end of the summer a £300,000 project will get underway at St Saeran’s Church in Llanynys to create a pilgrimage and retreat centre. This will develop the work already begun which is attracting pilgrims to this ancient place. The footings of the church date from the late 5th Century and one of the walls features a 15th Century giant painting of St Christopher. In 2022, St Saeran’s won the National Churches Trust award for Faith Tourism in Wales.
Fr Huw said, “We have a vision for St Saeran’s as a place of sanctuary and healing. A place of retreat to come and escape the trials and tribulations of modern life and take your ease, soak in the serenity of centuries and the calming presence of God which is timeless and so real in this place.
“We’re looking to create a self-service refreshment area, a community garden and work in partnership with the new owner of the former pub next door, the Cerrigllwydion Arms, to offer accommodation and hospitality to those on retreat or pilgrimage.”
All three projects will be on display at the consultation event in St Peter’s Church in Ruthin on 10/11 February. The event is open to everyone and takes place from 2pm – 4pm on both days.
Over the last few years, refurbishment work totalling £1m has taken place in three other churches in the Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Area: St Peter’s Church in Llanbedr, St Cynfarch and Mary in Llanfair DC and St Cynhafal in Llangynhafal.
Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Area is a collection of 13 churches around Ruthin, working in partnership to serve their local communities. It is part of the Diocese of St Asaph, one of the six dioceses of the Church in Wales, an autonomous province of the worldwide Anglican Community.