St John’s Church, Rhosymedre

St John’s Church, Rhosymedre

The church is built of local Cefn stone and was consecrated on the 6 July 1837, on land which had been donated by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn of Wynnstay. He also endowed it with £50 a year.

The reredos (screen behind the altar) was made and presented by members of St John’s Church and St Paul’s Church in Acrefair (now demolished) who were employed in the Trefynant Tile Works in 1906. The reredos is composed on the sides and rear of green lustre tiles embossed with vine, interspersed with brown and gold encaustic tiled panels, surrounded by a border of lustre tiles. The floor of the sanctuary and chancel has medieval-style encaustic tiles. Such tiles are made by pressing clay of different colours into the surface to create the desired pattern.

The Rev John David Edwards was vicar here for 43 years, until his death in 1885. He was then 80 years old, and was the oldest serving clergyman in Wales.

He composed a hymn which was first printed with the title Lovely. Renamed Rhosymedre, it quickly became popular across Wales. The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams based an organ prelude on the melody, which was played at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher in 2013.

The church’s carved oak altar is a memorial to Robert Ferdinand Graesser, a German chemist who founded a chemical factory at Cefn Mawr in 1867. The factory became a major local employer and was taken over by American company Monsanto in 1920. Robert Graesser also ran the Wrexham Lager brewery, originally founded in 1882 by German immigrants to produce one of Britain’s earliest lagers.

About the place-name:

There aren’t earlier documentary forms of Rhosymedre, and the name as it stands makes little sense. Rhos means “moor”. It’s been suggested that the second element is the personal name Medrad which subsequently lost the final -d and then the -a became -e (as commonly happens in the local dialect). However, that does not explain what appears to be the definite article y in the name. If genuine it would mean 'rhos of the Medrad', not a satisfying explanation!

With thanks to the Rev Kate Tiltman, and to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen of the Welsh Place-Name Society

Postcode: LL14 2LG    View Location Map

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