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St Giles Church in Wrexham North Wales

St Giles Church in Wrexham

St Giles Church Wrexham © Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales and below

St Giles Church WrexhamThe Church of St Giles in Wrexham is considered to be the third Church on the site with the original being built in the 11th Century. The local historian, A. N. Palmer, indicated that the earliest reference to the Church can be dated to 1220, when it is mentioned with reference to the bishop of St Asaph, who gave the monks of Valle Crucis in nearby Llangollen half of the income of the Church in Wrexham.

Reference is also found that in 1247, Madog ap Gruffydd (the Prince of Powys) bestowed upon the monks of Valle Crucis the patronage of the church of Wrexham. This resulted in the abbey receiving the vicar’s tithes, which only increased the wealth of Valle Crucis further.

The next important date in the history of St Giles is 1330 when severe gales blew down the Church steeple. This resulted in the whole Church being rebuilt in the decorative style. Some of the features from this rebuild still exist today, such as the outline of the nave and aisles of the 15th century building. Folklore suggests that the blowing down of the steeple was as a result of the town market being held on a Sunday and led to the market day subsequently being changed to a Thursday.

St Giles Wrexham

Doom Painting St Giles Church
© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales

The name of the Church, St Giles, also has history attached to it. Welsh history suggests that it was once dedicated to the Celtic saint Silyn. In truth both Silyn and Giles can be translated into Latin as Aegidius. It is also worth noting that Welsh churches were often originally dedicated to Celtic saints and that many of the names used, such as Silyn, were not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church. Thus Churches often adopted more acceptable names. What is clear is that by 1494 the Church was known as 'Saint Giles'.

The main part of St Giles was built between the end of the 15th and early part of the 16th Century as the medieval period came to an end. The richly-decorated tower, 135-feet high, with its four striking hexagonal turrets, was begun in 1506. The tower is appointed with numerous medieval carvings including those of an arrow and a deer and the attributes of St Giles.

St  Giles GatesWrought Iron Gates at St Giles
© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales

St Giles is the location of the grave of Elihu Yale, who founded Yale College in the United States. Just west of the tower is the grave of with the following epitaph
Born in America, in Europe bred,
In Africa travell'd, and in Asia wed,
Where long he lov'd and thriv'd;
At London dead.

The churchyard is entered through wrought-iron gates, completed in 1719 by local Davies Brothers in Bersham, who also cast the gates of nearby Chirk Castle.

Today, St Giles represents one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture to be found in Wales and well worth a visit. It is also suggested that you coincide your visit with one of the days when the Church tower is open. The ascent to the top of the tower is quite steep but the view of both the Church and the surrounding town is well worth the effort.


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