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St Beuno's Church in Clynnog Fawr on the Llyn peninsula is one very big church in a very small village, indeed iSt Beuno's Churchn the late 20th century the village had a population of only 130 persons. The church is dedicated to Beuno who was born in Powys, and who became an active missionary under the protection of Cadfan, King of Gwynedd. Following a dispute with Cadwallon, King Cadfan's son and successor, Beuno was awarded the township of Clynnog Fawr where the saint founded his church in the early 7th century.

The site developed into a monastery of some importance and Welsh law manuscripts say that the Abbot of Clynnog was entitled to a seat at the court of the king of Gwynedd.

The church mostly dates from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The west tower and detached chapel of St Beuno are probably early 16th century. Foundations of earlier buildings, including the original chapel of St Beuno, have been discovered beneath and near the present chapel. It is likely that it is the site of the 7th century monastery of St Beuno.

The church was burnt by both the Vikings and later the Normans. In medieval times the church was an important stopping place for pilgrims heading for Bardsey Island.

To this day important artefacts are to be found at St Beuno's Church including an ancient wooden chest hollowed out of a single piece of ash (Cyff Beuno), and used to keep alms donated by the pilgrims (nothing changes). The chest is believed to date from the middle ages and the padlocks from around 1600. The choir stalls and screen are believed to be 16th Century. A barrel-vaulted passageway leads to the16th Century chapel that is believed to have been built on St Beuno's cell. A stone known as Beuno's Stone (Maen Beuno) has markings reputed to be those of Beuno's fingers and outside in the churchyard there is a sundial dated between the late 10th century and the early 12th century. And of interest to twitchers there are house-martins nesting in the rafters of the Lychgate.


Directions:

Travel west on the A55 north Wales and head toward Caernarfon and continue west to the Llyn peninsula. As I write in 2007 the main road ( A499 Caernarfon to Pwllheli ) passes through the village of Clynnog Fawr between the pub and the church, however as I understand it there is soon to be a by-pass constructed (to the annoyance of some villagers) which will entail a short detour into the village. But it will be well worth the detour if not only for the church but also for the pub and restaurant adjacent to the church offering an excellent selection of local Welsh sea foods.

 

Please - click on the pictures - for enlarged pictures of St Beuno's Church. © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings

St Beuno's Church west tower and Chapel St Beuno's Church south gable
St Beuno's Church west tower and Bueno's Chapel
 
St Beuno's Church south gable
St Beuno's Church north gable   St Beuno's Church Bueno's chest
St Beuno's Church north gable
 
St  Bueno's chest or Beuno's Cyff. An ancient parish chest.
     
The 16th Century choir screen
The 16th Century choir screen

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