Wales's best one hundred churches
“A splendid guide” The Daily Telegraph
"An excellent volume" The Times
Illustrated in colour “Wales’s Best One Hundred Churches” encompasses a millennium of churches around Wales, from tiny St Govan’s tucked in its cliff-face, through ruined Llanthony to the magnificence of the cathedrals at Llandaff and St David’s. It is an invaluable repository of history, art and architecture, spirituality and people’s lives which will appeal to the historian, the art-lover and the tourist.
The archetypal Welsh church is not in town or village, enhanced by generations of rich patronage: it is the isolated, simple, evocative walls-with-roof, in a landscape often spiritually charged. The Welsh churches tell us about medieval times, the Age of Saints that came before and, amazingly, of the pagan Celtic times before that, which they were built expressly to erase.
This guide to the best Welsh churches features buildings placed where nature is most elemental - on tidal islands, half-sunk in sand dunes, out alone on moor or mountain, or raised on sculpted shafts above a river source; architectural masterpieces such as Wrexham, Brecon, Llandaff, and Haverfordwest; treasure houses of medieval arts and crafts like Gresford, Abergavenny, Llantwit Major and Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch; the homes of the great carved Celtic rood screens at Llanegryn, Llananno, Llanrwst and Patrisio – or of modern masterpieces like the Burne Jones windows at Hawarden and Epstein’s Christ at Llandaff; destinations of pilgrimage at Pennant Melangell, Pilleth, Clynnog Fawr and Llanengan, perfect interiors of vernacular simplicity like Llanrhychwyn, Llangelynin and Llanywern; and early rural chapels like Soar-y-mynydd, Maesyronnen, Capel Newydd at Nanhoron, and the Quaker meeting houses at Dolobran and The Pales with their rich connections to Pennsylvania.
T. J. Hughes was born in Denbighshire and has long family associations with the churches and chapels of that area. The Deputy Executive Director of the International Bar Association and a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, he lives in London with his wife and son.
To buy the book direct from the publisher, Seren Books, in Bridgend, South Wales, please click here
or from the American distributor, Independent Publishers Group, please click here
"T. J. Hughes’s brilliant Wales’s Best One Hundred Churches. Improbable as some people might find it, this is quite the most inspiring thing to have entered my brain via my eyes for some time …"
“This book is a gem, a worthy companion on expeditions to all parts of Wales”
Cambria magazine, June 2007
Mae’n gampwaith. Ewch allan. Prynwch hi. Mwynhewch.” [“It’s a masterwork. Go out. Buy it. Enjoy it.”]
Nene, June 2007
“If, like me, you are a compulsive visitor to churches, large and small, this is the book for you. Those represented are among Britain’s great unheralded treasures and this beautiful volume reveals them at their best in both words and outstanding photographs. History, art and spirituality are the threads which the author draws upon to weave his material into an inspirational record and celebration of the joys of our holy heritage over the centuries.
For decades England has had Pevsner, Betjeman and Alec Clifton-Taylor. T.J. Hughes is a star in the same orbit in his native Wales and he has an elegant prose style which ensures that our interest never flags."
a review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
"His descriptions are reflective, poetic even, touching on history, spirituality and art, as well as architecture. He has picked up on local legend and anecdote through conversations with those to whom the particular building matters, and yet retains an historical integrity. Hughes’ introductory chapters are significant, placing our church buildings in their historical context, but also in their social and topographical. He recognises the importance of place in Welsh spirituality - churches sited for reclusive prayer or sacred power rather than where people lived. This attractively produced book, well-illustrated, will no doubt encourage many new visitors to the churches and chapels, and is a very welcome publication".