In a recent blog, I explored the Viking stone sculpture and later memorials within Dyserth church. Here, I return to report on my brief exploration of Dyserth’s extramural monuments. For while, as with most churchyards, the vast majority of memorials date from the late nineteenth, twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Dyserth has some striking and early memorials

Dyserth sports a small collection of fabulous seventeenth-century (referred to as ‘Jacobean’) churchyard memorials, including two fabulous canopied tombs set amidst a coherent group of table-top monuments. These cluster next to a yew tree of some antiquity, perhaps contemporary with the monuments, to the south-east of the church. In other words, they were situated in a distinct and prominent location, set apart from but visible from the principal entrance to the church. What is notable is how the two canopied monuments have striking angels and skull-and-cross-bones motifs on their under-sides.

This is a distinctive example of gentry genealogies mapped in churchyard space and revered by subsequent generations. A further notable dimension is how these memorials are cited by a Victorian brass plaque within the church; a fascinating example of mortuary citation between memorials within the church itself and those pre-existing in its churchyard.

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The ‘Jacobean’ tombs in Dyserth churchyard, apparently one of a rare group of such monuments surviving from North Wales
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Another view of the assemblage of tombs of the Hughes family in Dyserth churchyard
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A death’s head with crossed bones motif on the under-side of the canopied tombs in Dyserth churchyard

 

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Like hideous deathly four-legged spiders, these skull-and-cross-bone motifs cling to the underside of the canopies of the seventeenth-century tombs
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The deliberate placing and paired nature of the canopied tombs is apparent in this photograph showing their shared orientation and juxtaposition. This view also reveals the careful restoration of memorials that are so grand they are almost ‘asking’ to fall apart. How they have survived in this well-preserved state for so long is testament to their long-term care by the parish.
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Angel motifs

 

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Memorial to the Hughes family citing their tombs in the churchyard
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