Nineteenth Century - Radical Restoration

The church as we view it today is the result of drastic alterations by the enthusiastic Victorians. In 1845 the work of disturbance began. Open seats were substituted for pews, the reading desk and pulpit were moved nearer the communion rails. William Davies of Cefn Mawr designed and made new communion rails together with a Gothic reredos extending across the east window. The sixth baronet (1820-1885) opened an arch at the north side of the chancel presumably to clear part of the old chancel for additional seats. The Mansion of Wynnstay was destroyed by fire in 1858 and immediately rebuilt, the work being completed about 1865. Sir Watkin, the sixth baronet (1820-85), favoured Benjamin Ferrey with his patronage. A pupil of Pugin and his biographer, Ferrey's reputation rests mainly in his churches. Basil Clarke is severe in his judgment of Ferrey's churches: 'They are all timid, orthodox and harmless for Ferrey was rather a close adherent of precedent than a bold originator' .After the rebuilding of Wynnstay Sir Watkin contemplated the restoration of the church.

In January 1867, 'Sir W. W. Wynne explained to the Vestry that his architect Mr Ferrey had promised to furnish him with a plan and estimate of the necessary Repairs & Restoration of Ruabon Church' .Ferrey was empowered to provide the plans and supervise the work which began early in 1870. Mr William Williams of Bangor was the contractor. The major part of the cost was met by Sir Watkin who subscribed £1,600. Sir Stephen Richard Glynne, Bt., noted the changes in 1872:

'The restoration has been completed. The arcades have been replaced; five pointed arches on pillars alternately octagonal and circular; also a new clerestory, of which the windows are alternately square-headed, and of a spherical, triangular form. The roofs are all new. A chancel-arch is added on marble shafts, and a new east window. The aisle-windows are new, Decorated, of three lights; the organ removed to the south aisle, and the Wynnstay seat into the tower. A curious mural painting has been discovered in the south aisle, appearing to represent the corporal acts of mercy.'

The handbook prepared for the re-opening of the church contemplated further alterations:

'These, however, are not all the improvements Sir Watkin intends making. He has very generously promised to present a new stone pulpit and reading desk, and to remove the communion rails under the chancel, in order to afford more space. The interior will be framed with encaustic tiles, and new chairs will be placed within.'

Fortunately this work was not carried out. Entrance porches were erected a few years later at the north and south doors. The 1870 restoration was the end of major architectural changes.


 


 

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