Church spotlight: St Silin's Church in Llansilin
It survived the presence of Cromwell and his troops and almost 400 years later it is still very much at the heart of the community.
Now Llansilin Church is set to survive the national drop off in congregation numbers, thanks to a new Friends group.
St Silin's Church has been a place of worship for more than 1,000 years with the earliest building on the site made of wood, according to records.
It was thought to have been damaged by Owain Glyndwr's rebellion.
- The church is dedicated to Saint Silin, now better known as Saint Sulien, the founder of a monastery at Luxulyan in Cornwall
- The earliest part of the present building dates from the 13th century, although there had been a church on the site from much earlier times
- The wooden spire was destroyed by fire and the present tower was built in 1832
- After a major restoration during 1889/1890, and the church re-opened in June 1890
Further damage was caused when English Civil War Parliamentarians took up residence in the building, and the soldiers used one wooden door for target practice with their muskets.
Its history is just one of the reasons that members of the local community have got together to ensure the church building is looked after in the future.
A new Friends of St Silin's group has been set up with its first event, an art exhibition and sale , taking place in the church this weekend.
The church was opening today and again tomorrow for the event.
Mary Cunnah, one of the Friends and a local artist, said that the exhibition involved invited professional artists and also a number of artists who live in the Llansilin parish.
"The exhibition will be an opportunity to view and purchase quality art work in a beautiful ancient building and also raise funds for the newly formed Friends of Llansilin Church," she said.
"This is being set up to allow those who value the historic building, and wish to help maintain this wonderful link with the past, but don't necessarily want to associate with the religious aspects.
"It is an independent Friends group."
Chairman of the friends group Graham Kyle said that one of the problems facing the church was damp on the walls.
"St Silin's has a a very rich history," he said.
"Oliver Cromwell stabled his troops troops inside the church and the musket bearers used the oak south door for target practice.
"The holes can still be seen on the door."
Reverend Richard Hughes, a retired clergyman who now looks after four local churches including Llansilin, said that glimpses of the church's past could be seen everywhere.
In the ceiling in the vestry there seems to be the remnants of a medieval rood screen, which would have separated the altar from the main body of the church.
"It is such an historic building and there is a lot of enthusiasm in the village to look after it," he said.
Church warden Mike Coppock said the Church in Wales Church held alternating morning and evening services with one of the morning services an 'all age' event.
This he said allowed Mr Hughes to carry out services in the other churches under his wing.
The church is also helped by its churchwarden, lay members and worship leaders.
The local primary school also uses the church when it holds services, such as its harvest festival.
Mr Coppock welcomed the setting up of the Friends group.
"There is only a small congregation but it costs £300 a week just to keep the church open.
"And that is just normal running costs, not any repair bills. So we have to constantly look at ways of raising money."
St Silin's lends itself to concerts due to its shape.
"It has wonderful acoustics – not too 'echoey'.
"Musicians love performing here, not just because of the acoustics but because it is such a beautiful building with its carved, vaulted ceiling."
"We have had everything from the Fron choir to a one many show about Dylan Thomas."
"Although Llansilin is six miles from Oswestry we do attract a lot of people from the town to our events.
"However I do think that the church is not widely known.
"It really is a hidden treasure," added Mr Coppock.
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