North Wales Churches

Rug Chapel, Corwen


Plain outside, but a gloriously decorated interior


Rug Chapel is a lovely setting among the trees. From the outside it is a very plain building. Nothing prepares you for the magnificence of the interior where every available bit of wood is carved and every surface painted.

The chapel was built as a private chapel for Colonel William Salesbury in 1637. He was a staunch Royalist, scorning Puritan simplicity and wanted a chapel full of high church decoration. It is a rare survivor of a chapel from this time.

Rug Chapel

By the door is an octagonal font with a wooden cover with a large metal cross and an inscription in Welsh round the rim. Steps lead up to a gallery across the west end. Hanging from the ceiling is a wooden chandelier with candles and angels on the top.

Rug Chapel

There are simple wooden benches in the nave with a single rail as a back support. The seats are carefully dovetailed in to a long piece of wood along the nave which forms a ‘door step’ into the pew, intended to reduce draughts around the feet. It is also a trip hazard for the unwary. This has a series of animal carvings under the pew benches. The lower part of the nave walls are covered with wooden panelling which has four scrolls with a flower motif along the top.

Rug Chapel

Separating nave and chancel is a rood screen. Beyond is a banistered altar rail. The wooden altar has a painting of an angel on the front with an inscription.

Rug Chapel

On either side of the chancel are large ‘four poster’ style choir stalls with a canopy above them. These have carved fronts and painted panels.

Rug Chapel

The wooden beam ceiling has carved and painted beams with scrolls and red or white roses with foliage. Between the beams the nave ceiling has a painted abstract swirl pattern. The chancel ceiling is painted blue with images of cherub heads and stars. In the corners of the choir are cut out figures of angels and there are more on the beam ends in the nave. These have either red and blue robes or yellow and green. Their wings are yellow with red and blue horizontal stripes at the bottom.

Rug Chapel

Rug Chapel

There are memorial slabs on the walls and a splendid painted monument on the north wall of a skeleton and a skull set in a portico with pillars. With a Welsh inscription, it reminds the congregation of their own mortality.

Rug Chapel

The stained glass windows are C19th. The large east window features Christ in Glory with saints, kings and bishops around him and angels above. The double window in the south wall of the chancel has a scene of the Nativity and one of the risen Christ surrounded by Roman soldiers. Another window in the south wall has images of angels and beneath is written “Rock of Ages Cleft for me”.

The window in the north wall has a quote from Matthew “Have nothing to do with that man for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” with what looks like an angel, Christ, a cross and other figures.

The church is on the A5104 a mile north of the junction with the A5. It is in the care of CADW and open in the summer months. There is parking on site. The nearest post code is LL21 0ER. The grid reference is SJ 065439  Entry also includes entry to Llangar Old Church a short distance away (post code LL21 0HW, grid reference SJ 064424).


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