St Collen’s Parish Church of Llangollen
This Church is the oldest established institution in Llangollen and has persisted continuously since the late 6th or early 7th Century. It was founded by St. Collen to whom it is dedicated and from whom the town derives its name. There are two other churches dedicated to St. Collen, one in Cornwall and the other in Brittany.
Here is a Short Tour of the Church
Porch:- The Oak Chest dated 1748 is of interest with its three keyholes. It dates back to the days when the Parish comprised of three districts. Each district selected its own Warden and all three had to be present to open the churchwardens chest. Note also the seat for freeholders in the days when Pew rents were paid. Although none of the ancient glass remains the windows in the Church merit attention. The left-hand side of the porch window contains the oldest glass in the Church with its unusual texture and colours. The right-hand side of the window contains the newest glass (1985) depicting our Patron Saint Collen, carrying the sword with which he slew the evil forces. In the background you can see the Horseshoe Pass where St. Collen’s Well is situated. Note the board with details of past Vicars dating from 1398.
Belfry:- Above the Porch is the belfry. It houses the eight Jubilee Bells set up in 1887. Number 5 Bell bears the inscription ‘In place of 4 Bells cast in 1697, 1722, 1759, 1762’. 1887 was the Golden Jubilee Year of Queen Victoria.
Enter the Church:- On your left is a painting of great interest, not only because it portrays the Church before the extension of 1863, but also because tradition has it that a little boy in the aisle was Alfred George Edwards, son of the Vicar, and who later became the first Archbishop of the Church in Wales after the disestablishment of the Church in 1920. Beyond the Font you will find the very old door to the Choir Vestry. Note the peepholes in the door, a reminder of the days when offenders could claim sanctuary in the Church. This privilege ceased in 1623 but the door is still in use. There is a possibility that this door came from Valle Crucis Abbey and is 12th Century. Note the bequests charts on the wall above regarding various charities. Even today the Parish Church is responsible for St. Thomas’ Charities at Christmas.
The middle window of the North Aisle commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Look up to see the carved roof and a rare example of Ancient Welsh opposite the first window. Move down the North Aisle to the Niche where once lay the effigy of St. Collen which was destroyed during the Civil War. The Stoup Bowl was used many years ago to hold Holy Water at the entrance of the Church. The date of the table below is 1636.
Proceed Under the Arch to Face the Altar:- Through the delicate Rood Screen study the beautiful stained glass windows donated In Memory of loved ones.
The Roof:- The roof with its carved oak ceiling is probably the most interesting and beautiful feature of the Church. It was built in 1450 by expert craftsmen under the guidance of the Abbot of Valle Crucis Abbey. The Figures are explained by Mrs. Whiting in a booklet on sale in the Church. Unhappily, repairs costing £30,000 have been necessary to counter the ravages of beetle, damp and dry rot and in 1983 the Church was closed for three months. We are pleased that our Church is restored to its full glory. There are boxes for your donations at the back of the Church.
Proceed past the new Lady Chapel and the Children’s Corner to view the two beautiful stained glass windows each side of the War Memorial. The number of men who lost their lives in the First World War was twice the number of the Second World War. In line with the British Legion and R.A.F. Standards is the Blue Flag of Honour awarded to the town by the Council of Europe in 1983, in recognition of the towns contribution towards International Friendship and understanding. Nearby is the Memorial to the Ladies of Llangollen whose tomb is near the entrance to the Church. Note also the 14th Century archway of the old South Entrance.
Finally, stop for a moment and thank God for the peace and beauty of his house and for all his blessings. Pray, too for the Vicar, Wardens, and Congregation of this Church, who hope you enjoy your visit.
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