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Pontblyddyn Church History

Christ ChurchThe Beginning

In the period between 1831 and 1906, the number of Church buildings in the Diocese of St. Asaph more than doubled rising from 151 to 326 in addition to the enlarging and repairing of the older ones.  The county of Flint alone had 29 new Churches built and 36 restored.  Ten new Churches were erected in the years 1835-48, these included Pontblyddyn 1836; Bistre 1842; Llanfynydd 1843 and Gwernaffield 1848.

There was a tremendous growth of population until the mid-1840s especially in the mining areas.  It was to these places and their demand for labour that workers and their families moved.  However, these people were far from their own Parish Churches and needed to be catered for in matters of worship.  Christ Church is an example of the type of places of Worship that were erected in this area to cover the mining population.  They were put up for an extraordinary small cost of which more than half was contributed by the Incorporated Church Building Society and the Church Building Commissioners.  These two Bodies existed at the same time and actually consisted of the same personnel.

The function of the Incorporated Church Building Society was to assist in the provision of Church-rooms in Parishes that had a population of less than 4,000, were suffering from extreme insufficiency with regard to accommodation and in need of financial aid.  Churches built in this way tended to be utilitarian, indifferently designed, unprepossessing and badly built.

Out of the much larger Parish was Mold, the Parish of Pontblyddyn was one of three formed, the others being Bistre and Gwernaffield.  In 1836, Pontblyddyn comprised of the township of Hartsheath and a portion of Leeswood, an area of approximately 3,150 acres.  The population was 1,636 and the main employment was coalmines, brickworks and farming.

The Patronage of the Living was at that time vested in the Vicar of Mold.  There was an annual endowment of £127 per annum paid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and a further yearly payment of £18 from Queen Anne’s Bounty.  This was a fund established in 1704 to augment the stipends of the poorer clergy.  Added to this would be about £40 from the offertory and pew rents.  All this ceased upon the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Wales in 1920.

On 31st May, 1836, “the consecration of Pontbleiddyn Chapel within the Parish of Mold” took place.  In the Religious Census of 1851, the Incumbent, J. Williams, styled himself as “Perpetual Curate”.  This title was used until 1867.  However, by 6th June, 1868, it seemed that this had changed.  On that date, the Bishop’s Register records the granting of a licence to Revd. John Williams “to perform the office of Assistant Curate of the Parish and Parish Church of Pontbleiddyn, to which he was nominated by the Revd. Samuel Evans, Vicar of the same Parish”.  This suggests that by this time Pontblyddyn had become an independent Parish and that the Revd. Samuel Evans was its first Vicar.

The ecclesiastical boundary of the Parish was defined as follows: –                                                                                             “The district annexed to the chapel and curacy of Pontbleiddyn consists of the township of Leeswood, excepting the houses and farms of Pentrerhobin and Tyenewydd, the whole township of Hartsheath, and that part of the township of Bistre which lies south of the Mold and Broughton turnpike road.”

Archdeacon Thomas published a History of the Diocese in 1911 in which he records the history of every Church.  His entry for Pontblyddyn states; “Christ Church, the earliest of the three erected by the Revd. C.B. Clough in his large and populous parish was very simple in plan and poor in workmanship.  It was originally built in 1836, together with a new school, and the cost of both, including furnishings, did not exceed £790”.  The Church was designed by John Lloyd.

The Revd. C.B. Clough referred to by Archdeacon Thomas was the Vicar of Mold from 1825-54.  He was also one of the founders of the Diocesan Church Building Society.  During his incumbency he raised approximately £20,000 for Church purposes in the Mold Parish.  Out of these funds, the Churches were built in Pontblyddyn, Gwernaffield and Bistre together with Vicarages and schools.  In 1850 he presented a new font to Pontblyddyn Church.  This was first used on 8th October, 1850, for the baptism of Robert, son of Robert and Mary Bellis of Pontybodkin.  Revd. Clough later became Archdeacon, Dean and Chancellor of St. Asaph.

Renovation & Additions

At a Vestry Meeting on 8th April, 1864, the minutes referred to extensive refurbishment plans for Christ Church, these included; the re-roofing of the Church; re-arranging the pews; building a Vestry and erecting a wall around the Churchyard.  This took place over the following two years as the “History of the Diocese of St. Asaph” records “the church had to be partially rebuilt in 1865-6, when it was enlarged by the addition of a chancel designed by Lloyd Williams and Underwood (for £140) and a vestry”.

In January, 1887, Christ Church re-opened following an entire renovation which included colouring of the walls and cleaning, also revarnishing of the woodwork.

The Churchyard was extended two years later in 1889 at a total cost of £129 10s 1d.  These costs included land purchased at £40, solicitor’s fees £36 2s 1d, the wall £40 and the paths plus repairs to the old wall £12 8s 0d.  On 20th June, 1889, the Lord Bishop of the Diocese consecrated the “New Ground” as it was called.

Other improvements were (a) a hot water heating system installed in the Church in 1890, the cost of which was met by the Parishioners and (b) provision of new windows, firstly in 1906 in the porch and the west end of the Church, then in 1908 in the nave, the colours of which were to match the east window and those in the porch.

In 1917-18 plans were made to light the Church with petrol gas.  A £30 donation towards the cost was given by Mr & Mrs W. Carstairs-Jones in March, 1917 and the minutes of the Annual Vestry Meeting held on 9th April, 1918, stated that the sum of £56 19s 0d had been collected by the Parish.  However, because of World War I the cost of petrol had increased and was in short supply, therefore, the plan had to be abandoned temporarily.

On 2nd December, 1926, it was agreed to “gratefully accept the gift of tubular bells from Mr & Mrs Carstairs-Jones, and that an application for a faculty for the erection of same be made”.  These bells have subsequently been renewed.

It was decided to apply for a faculty to install electric lighting on 8th March, 1934.  This was received on 17th July, 1934, although there is no reference in the minutes concerning when, or by whom the work was done.

A new oak altar and reredos in memory of the late Revd. Richard Owen, a former of Vicar of the Parish was dedicated on 23rd December, 1951.  This in turn led to an application to remove the existing pulpit and replace it with one that matched the new altar.  It was hoped that this could be dedicated on a date prior to the Harvest Festival of 1952.

With the exception of the Tower, the Church was re-roofed in 1981.  The total cost of this was £11,270.

On 5th December, 1997, the Church was granted Grade 2 Listed Status.

Windows

The East Window is a memorial to Wilson Jones of Hartsheath and Gelligynan who died in 1864.This depicts the four Evangelists with the Ascension portrayed in the top roundel.

There are two windows on the north side of the Chancel.  That which depicts the raising of Lazarus is in memory of Robert Wynne-Eyton, 1789-1865, one-time Vicar of Northop and a Canon of St. Asaph Cathedral.  The other depicting the Stilling of the Storm is a memorial to William Wynne-Eyton R.N. 1857.  This gentleman was confirmed as serving with Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar when he was 11 years old by a member of the Nelson Society.

On the south side of the Chancel, the window is a memorial dedicated to Harriet, second daughter of the Revd. Hope Wynne-Eyton.  She died in 1859.

The windows on the south side of the Nave are memorials to Margaret Helen Beavan, daughter of Wilson Jones of Hartsheath who died in 1868 and John Wynne-Eyton who died in 1876 aged 90 years.  That dedicated to the former illustrates the Crucifixion, also Resurrection and that dedicated to the latter depicts the Parable of the Faithful Steward.

In the Vestry the window which dates from 1865 when this part of the Church was added illustrates Psalm 132, verse 9.

Mr & Mrs Carstairs-Jones gave the windows in the porch and the west end of the Church.  These were in memory of John & Elizabeth Carstairs-Jones and their son Henry.

Lychgate

A War Memorial Lychgate was seemingly first proposed in April, 1920, with the money to be raised by various means.  However, it was not until a meeting held on 20th March, 1922, that the Parochial Church Council accepted the estimate of Mr Harold Davies of Wrexham for the building of the Memorial Lychgate at the revised cost of £305.  For an additional cost of £10 Yorkshire slabs were to be used for the roof instead of slates.  The dedication took place on 12th November, 1922.  In August, 1986, it was restored by the firm of Bernard A. Shepherd of Stockport at a cost of £916.50, with Mr D.R. Harris of Stroud Nullis and Partners, Architects, overseeing the project.

Pipe Organ

The Pipe Organ was built by Messrs Hele & Co. of Plymouth, “as a memorial to those from this Parish who served in the World War, 1939-45, and in humble thanksgiving to Almighty God for victory.”  It was dedicated by the Revd. W.T. Harvard, Bishop of St. Asaph on 11th December, 1949.  A twenty year guarantee against faulty materials and workmanship would be given provided that the organ was left entirely in the charge of Messrs Hele & Co..  In order to improve the acoustics for the new organ a false ceiling was added to the Nave and Chancel in 1949, also alterations to the Gallery were considered necessary.  With the passage of time the organ had to be completely rebuilt.  This work was done in 1997 by Mr K. Ledson of Greasby who had maintained the instrument for many years at a cost of £13,000.  On 1st March, 1998, the organ was re-dedicated by the Rt. Revd. A.D. Chesters, the Bishop of Blackburn.  He had family connections with the Parish.

Grants, Donations and Expenses Concerning Pontbleiddyn Chapel 1836

The old minute book of “Pontbleiddyn Chapel” dated 1836, gives interesting detail concerning the raising of funds for the building of the Church and School, also the expenses involved.  A grant of £260 was received from the Incorporated Church Building Society, a further £200 from the St. Asaph Diocesan Church Building Society; £75 was donated by the Lords of the Treasury from the Parliamentary Grant for Schools and £30 from the National Society for Schools.

Numerous individual subscriptions were added to the building funds as follows: –

Wilson Jones, Esq. of Hartsheath Hall £100
John Wynne-Eyton, Esq. of Leeswood Hall £100
The Hon. E.M. Ll Mostyn, M.P. £50
Sir S.R. Glynne, Bart. Hawarden Castle £50
C.B.T. Roper, Esq. Plas Teg £50
Edward Oakley, Esq. Coed Talon £50
The Revd. C.B. Clough, Vicar of Mold £50
The Misses Lloyd, Soughton House £20
P.D. Cooke, Esq. Gwysaney £20
The Revd. E.S. Thurlow, Rector of Hope £20
Edward Pemberton, Esq. Plas Isaf £15
T.C. Philips, Esq. Rhual £10
T.P. Mather, Esq. Pentrhobin £10
Mrs Elizabeth Giffard, Nerquis Hall £10
T.R. Trueman, Esq. Bryn Alyn £10

There were other smaller subscriptions ranging from £5 to 1/- which brought the total to £1,311 3s 4d.  Many of these donations were received from people outside of the Parish.

Total building costs were £790 13s 3d and the total receipts exceeded this amount by £520 10s 1d. Out of this remaining money, £300 worth of three and a half per cent stock was purchased and £200 was donated to Queen Anne’s Bounty.  The three and half per cent interest received per annum on these two sums of money was to be paid half yearly to the Trustees of the “Chapelry of Pontbleiddyn”.  These trustees consisted of the Parish Curate, the Vicar of Mold and the Bishop of St. Asaph.

On the day of the Consecration, the collection at the “Chapel” door amounted to £19.  The Consecration fees were £15 16s 6d.  Later, the Bishop, the Rt. Revd. William Carey and the Chancellor of the Diocese remitted their fees of £5 and £3 respectively.

Some of the costs incurred in the building of the Church are as follows: –

Stonework

(Mrs E. Giffard of Nerquis gave the free use of a stone quarry)

£233 11s 4d
Timber £129 7s 2d
Lead £4 11s 6d
Bricks and Tiles £11 17s 4d
Slates £19 18s 0d
Glazing £28 0s 0d
Painting £6 16s 1d
Nails £14 2s 1d
Cloth for the Communion Table etc. £5 18s 11d
Carpet for the Altar £1 0s 0d
Jaques, Gloucester for bells £22 18s 0d
Carriage of bells from Wrexham 10s 0d
J.W. Eyton, Esq. Land for the site £30 0d 0d
Compensation to farmer Robert Evans for part of his wheat field £5 5s 0d

Curates of Mold in charge of the Parish

1836       Revd. John Davies – later Vicar of Brymbo in 1840.

1840             Revd. Edward Roberts – later Vicar of Llangystennyn in 1846.

1846    Revd. Jeremiah Williams – later Rector of Hope in 1859.

1859              Revd. David Evans – later Rector of Llanycil in 1867.

Vicars of the Parish

1867       Revd. Samuel Evans – later Rector of Llysfaen in 1873.

1873                 Revd. Philip Davies – later Vicar of Llanfair Talhaearn in 1884.

1885                Revd. William Lloyd Protheroe – later Vicar of Llanasa in 1899.

1899                Revd. Owen Davies – later Vicar of Gorsedd in 1917.

1917                Revd. Richard Owen – died 1944.

1944                Revd. Walter Alun Lewis – retired 1977.

1979                Revd. Clifford Orford Bennett – retired 1999.

2001                Revd. Peter Mackriell – left 2006.

2006                Revd. Carole Poolman – previously Assistant Curate.