The Pulpit Yew : Nantglyn, North Wales

Earlier this week I spent a few days in North Wales with two friends. We stayed in a lovely old Landmark Trust property, Dolbelydr, near Trefnant in Denbighshire.

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Here’s an extract from the Landmark Trust website  about Dolbelydr :

Meadow of the Rays of the Sun

Set in a timeless and quiet valley, this 16th-century gentry house has many of its original features, including a first floor solar open to the roof beams. We have taken the house back to its original form, to a building its owner, Henry Salesbury, would recognise if we travelled back in time to the 1580s. “Meadow of the Rays of the Sun” is one translation of the name Dolbelydr, which rings especially true as you gaze at the sunlight slanting across the ground from the mullioned windows down this tranquil valley. 

Dolbelydr was the family manor of humanist and physician Henry Salesbury. In 1593, Salesbury published his Grammatica Britannica, written in this fine stone house. Welsh scholars such as Salesbury rose to the challenge of Henry VIII’s regime, who was imposing English as the language of government. By putting a classical discipline on the grammar of this ancient language, Salesbury’s work gives Dolbelydr some claim to be the birthplace of modern Welsh.”

We were very lucky with the weather as the days were dry and warm and sunny.

With a mutual interest in church visiting and trees we set off  on Tuesday morning to find two Heritage Trees in two nearby churchyards. The first of these was The Pulpit Yew at nearby Nantglyn.

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The Church of Saint James, Nantglyn

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The tranquil hamlet of Nantglyn, nestling in the rolling hills of Denbighshire, North Wales, is home to a most remarkable yew tree (Taxus baccata). The hollowed trunk of this ancient specimen (write Jon Stokes and Donald Rodger in “The Heritage Trees of Britain and Northern Ireland”) has been turned into an al fresco pulpit, literally reinforcing the connection between this species and places of worship. Crude steps fashioned from the local slate lead into the hollow interior of the tree through a large, natural gash in the trunk, culminating in a raised seat and podium. Standing within the heart of the tree the elevated position provides a panoramic view of the churchyard and the ancient gravestones scattered around the base of the trunk. Legend has it that sermons were preached from the improvised pulpit, including one by John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of the Methodist Church. 

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The Slate Pulpit

Despite the intrusive building works, the yew continues to flourish and its full, luxuriant canopy dwarfs the modest, slate-clad church. The trunk (at time of publication measures 8.3m) in girth.”

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The Grand Old Pulpit Yew

7 comments on “The Pulpit Yew : Nantglyn, North Wales

  1. […] things in the world! I don’t know why we don’t all know about this phenomenon. From The Pulpit Yew we drove on to the village of Llangernyw in order to find this ancient yew – more than 4,000 […]

  2. ms6282 says:

    I’ve been to St Asaph many, many times with work, right back to when I had my first job – although the factory I used to visit was demolished some years ago. And I dash past regularly on the A55 on my way to Holyhead to catch the ferry. Never thought to turn off and explore the area just off the main road. Always in a hurry. I need to slow down and take a look!

    • That’s a very fast road, the A55, and it’s the sort of journey you just want to get over – either to catch the ferry or get home. It’s the same for me travelling to Norwich. I don’t really want to stop on the way there (might have to overtake that lorry or tractor again!) or on the way home. I’m sure I miss lots.

  3. Fran says:

    Off to the library catalogue to search for that book…looks a treat, as does the Landmark Trust house ( they always do!)

  4. M,Williams says:

    Many years ago my father-in-law the late Arthur Williams of Voelas, Nantglyn was asked to rebuild the pulpit in the yew tree

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