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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Experts explore the ancient wonders of St Collen's

* The visiting experts included, from Liverpool University’s Faculty of Archeology, Classics and Egyptology, Dr Ruth Nugent, Dr Glenn Cahilly-Bretzin, Katherine Foster and Tom Farrow, from York University, Louise Hampson. Also in the party was Tom Livingstone of T L Stonemasons, Summerhill, Wrexham.  Showing them around is Genesis project leader Sue Evans, far left.  

A team of experts interested in the many historical aspects of  Llangollen’s famous parish church visited St Collen’s earlier this week.

The ancient place of worship dating back to the seventh century has embarked on an ambitious re-ordering project, known as Genesis, which aims to make a series of sympathetic adaptions enabling it to meet the needs of the 21st century.

Last September Genesis was awarded almost £95,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to kick-start the first phase of the project which includes taking away some pews to make a space for a stage platform where the church can host more plays, concerts and school nativities.

There is also a desperate need for toilet facilities and better heating and lighting to generally allow the building to have more flexibility and inclusivity, creating a community hub which can be enjoyed by a variety of local organisations and also making it more accessible to the many visitors it attracts.

This week, Genesis project leader Sue Evans welcomed a team of experts led by Dr Ruth Nugent of the University of Liverpool to the church.

And she explained: “They were interested in the many historical aspects of the building and would like to help us to offer an accurate interpretation of St Collen’s and its long history for our community.

“People who were able to join us for the community presentations we have given so far know that alongside the general re-ordering of the building, which includes the addition of a new disabled toilet and access, we are also looking to create exciting opportunities for the community to help with the research and new interpretation boards. These would be made available inside the building, online and in new leaflets.

“We aim to undertake community events where you can actively contribute to the research. For example, you might like to know more about the medieval ceiling, Bardic connections or how Virginia Woolf is connected to our church.”

Sue added: “We are fortunate to have experts on medieval carvings, stone masons, art historians, pilgrim’s experts, and church archaeologists at hand and we will be working towards creating a community project worthy of our fabulous grade I Listed building.

“T. Hughes said of St Collen’s, ‘This pell-mell vision is our own Sistine ceiling, what we got in Wales while Michelangelo was working in Rome.’

“Local people should look out for future community events where they will be able to contribute to the future of the church and see how we can create a community space for all.”

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