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Llanrhychwyn Church is a lovely little church high above the Conwy Valley in north Click to enlarge picture of Llanrhychwyn ChurchWales. It is claimed to be the oldest in Wales being the site where Rhychwyn originally established his church in the 6th Century. Rhychwyn was the son of Prince Helig ap Glannog, who lived at Llys Helig on the north Wales coast before it was inundated by the sea, (so rising sea levels aren't all down to global warming ..?). Helig had several sons who established churches throughout north wales, including Celynin, who established the old church at Llangelynin a few miles down the valley. It seems that Helig's children took note of the old adage that "the best example a father can make is a bad example" as they all built their churches on the high lands. Try walking from Trefriw to Llanrhychwyn, or from Rowen to Llangelynin and you will understand what I mean.

The oldest part of the present church dates from the late 11th century, and is known locally as Llewelyn’s Church after Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, (Llywelyn Fawr or Llywelyn the Great). Llywelyn had a hunting lodge in Trefriw, and he and his his wife Siwan, or Joan, the youngest daughter of King John of England would climb the steep hill to Llanrhychwyn church. Joan understandably grew weary of the climb and as a result, in about 1230, Llywelyn endowed another church on the valley floor on the site where St Mary's Church of Trefriw now stands.

 Llanrhychwyn Church is in a beautiful setting on the high pasture lands with fantastic views of the Conwy Valley below.

Click to enlarge picture of Llanrhychwyn Church viewsThe ancient churchyard surrounding the church is typical of many old Welsh churchyards with slate gravestones proudly punching out of the earth to the heavens above. The incumbents competing among each other for the best tombstone. They should all rest easy in their "tombs with a view" as the combination of the landscape, the church, the massive slate slabs dragged up the hill, combine to make a work of art better than anything you will see in the art galleries of the 21st century.

The buildings are officially classed as primitive architecture, I class them as nice.

Excitement grows with the first view of the lychgate. It may not be proven to be the oldest lych gate but it is something special.

The swallows exit the hallowed grounds as you enter, their several nests in the timbers of the lychgate witness to their true appreciation of this isolated and beautiful location.

On the day I visited the site the church door was, to my surprise, unlocked. I took a few pictures of the interior but you need to visit yourself to appreciate the atmosphere of this ancient church. Although they say a picture paints a thousand words I would say a presence paints a million.

I don't normally record items within the ancient buildings as in these days it might prove tempting to thieves but the following information is posted on wikipaedia and is already in the public domain.

" the church is a good example of primitive architecture. The Eastern aisle was added in the 13th century, and the north aisle dates from the 16th century. It has a very old square font, as old as the church itself, and Click to enlarge picture of Llanrhychwyn Church navean early example of stained glass in the east window. The roof beams, some 800 years old, are the earliest example in Wales. The ancient oak door has wooden hinges, and the bell, which dates from the 13th century, possibly came from Maenan Abbey. The altar rails date from 1616, and the pulpit from 1691. The chalice is dated 1614 and is of an ornate design. Registers date from 1594. These days, services are only held in Llanrhychwyn church during the summer months, and on special occasions. If locked, the key is available from Tu hwnt i'r Gors Farm, nearby."

I took my pictures, made a contribution to the collection box, and was about to leave when I heard this strange humming / vibrating noise. I was not scared. But,, considering I was in the middle of nowhere and the church did not even have the benefit of electricity, it was a bit disconcerting and it added to the atmosphere of the church.

I opened the old oak door, exited the church, and made my way back to the crossroads in Llanrhychwyn village to meet up with my grand daughter Ophelia and my brother's grand daughter Chloe.

On my arrival I was harangued by Ophelia for failing to explain the location of the meeting up point.

Click to enlarge picture of Llanrhychwyn Church doorOphelia complained that they had thought they were lost and, in a state of panic, had telephoned a mobile phone that unbeknown to me had been planted in my rucksack. Admittedly the mobile phone could not reproduce the sound of the opening of an ancient oak door, but it was perfect at creating the humming and vibrations you experience in ancient Welsh churches.......................

Ah, the wonders of modern technology!

Wasted on an old bugger like me!

Location :

On the high pasture lands above the village of Trefriw, Llanrwst, Conwy LL27 - Wales, UK


Please click on the pictures below for enlarged pictures of Llanrhychwyn Church. © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings

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Llanrhychwyn Church Bell
Llanrhychwyn Church stone font
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Llanrhychwyn Church roof and altar
Llanrhychwyn Church and lychgate

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