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Medieval chapel near Wrexham might be smallest in country

Published date: 05 September 2014 |
Published by: Iwan Berry 
Read more articles by Iwan Berry  Email reporter


 

A VILLAGE near Wrexham is home to what is now believed to be the UK’s smallest chapel – and it was unearthed by chance.

Bill Devereux, 66, unknowingly acquired the medieval chapel when he bought Wilderness Millhouse, on Pant y Capel Lane, Gresford, 20 years ago.

As he was painstakingly restoring the house and clearing rubble away from a bank, he was astonished to discover the ancient, tiny place of worship buried low down near the house.

Mr Devereux thinks the chapel, which is just 7.1ft wide and 10.1ft long, dates back to the eighth or ninth century.

And he believes it could even be Gresford’s ‘lost’ St Leonard of Glyn Chapel, whose precise location has been a mystery to archaelogists for years.

Mr Devereux said: “It took a while to get people round here to see it, but Cadw have been to inspect it and said it is one of the best preserved chapels they have ever seen. They have made it a designated ancient monument.

“We think it dates back to the eighth or ninth century.

“The house was built in 1420 and would have been built at ground level at that time.

“The chapel has been built at a level a lot lower than that.

“The property had been burned down before I bought it 20 years ago and I’ve been restoring it. The chapel had been buttressed in on either side, so the first I saw of it was the roof at floor level and thought it was a really strange structure.

“I knew it was important, special, religious, with a deeper meaning. I see myself as a custodian, to make sure it isn’t damaged, and want it saved for another 600 years.”

Mr Devereux said he is ready to invite the public to view the chapel.

He said: “I want it to be sympathetically used, so if a practising Christian group want to hold services here, or anyone wants to visit, they can get in contact – I am happy to share, as long as they let me know they are coming beforehand.”

Phil Cox, of the Caer Alyn Archeological and Heritage Project, said: “We have done 13 years of research on that land and all the documents tend to put St Leonard’s where Bill’s chapel is, so it could be associated with it, have some connection, but possibly not be the actual chapel itself.

“It is certainly medieval so the dates are in line.”

Two other churches that have previously claimed the distinction of being the UK’s smallest chapel are St Trillo’s in Rhos-on-Sea and Bremilham Church in Wiltshire.

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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