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The Church of Llandrillo yn Rhos.
After the withdrawal of the Roman Legions from
Britain in the time known as 'the Dark Ages', or here in Wales 'the Age of
the Saints', there arrived on our shores missionaries from Brittany and Ireland
to convert the 'heathens'.
Prominent amongst those who came in
the 6th century was Trillo who established his church, or llan, in the vicinity
now known as Rhos on Sea. Llandrillo was originally the mother church of a
large parish which included places as far apart as Eglwysbach and Eglwys Rhos
Where the first building stood is
uncertain. One story says that it was erected a mile and a half to the east
of Rhos Fynach on land now covered by the sea. That the waves have encroached
is an undoubted fact. Sodden tree stumps can be found in the sand at Rhos
during exceptionally low tides. But no proof has come to light that a church
stood out there. Indeed the expert opinion (the late Mr N. Tucker to whom
I am grateful for his work on the history of the church), is that it would
seem illogical to build on a bleak low lying morfa when better sites, complete
with wood and stone were close to hand. However having seen the tree stumps
myself as a child in the 1950's and remembering the Towyn flood of 1990 when
the sea took over (albeit for a short time) a large area of the land just
8-9 miles down the coast I have an open mind about the position of the original
church, and see no reason to doubt the legend.
It is also possible that Trillo chose for the site of his 'llan' the vicinity
of the well which may still be seen in the tiny chapel on the shore.
Having established his church where ever, the strange fact was that it was
not named after him. In all ancient records the parish is termed Dinerth.
In the Norwich taxation of 1254 and the Lincoln taxation of 1291 the name
is Dinerth. Not until 1540 is Llandrillo encountered. The alteration may have
arisen from the change of church government or because of the sale of the
lands of Aberconwy Abbey.
The north aisle is the oldest portion of the church , in
the outer wall of which are two built-up acutely pointed arches and a closed
doorway, all of the 13th century. The arches were carried through the wall
and represent an early chapel. This is believed to have been the private chapel
of Ednyfed Fychan Seneschal to Llewellyn the Great.
It seems to have been demolished (when it was no longer required) in order
to provide materials for the extension. (With respect to Mr Tucker this doesn't
make sense to me as you don't knock one room down on the side of your house
to use the bricks to build a room on the other side) Not the least of Llandrillo's
claim to fame is this connection with Ednyfed Fychan whose 'cheifest manor
house' was on Bryn Euryn several hundred yards to the south.
In a charter of 1230 Llewellyn the
Great sanctioned the purchase of the land between Bryn Euryn and the sea shore
known as Rhos Fynach by Ednyfed Fychan, a condition being that Ednyfed and
his heirs 'shall pay yearly to God and the Church of Dineyrth, two shillings
towards lamps at Easter-Tide'.
When King Henry the V11, Henry Tudor, ascended
the throne his heralds traced his ancestry to Ednyfed whose 'chiefest house
was in Creuddyn'.
The south aisle was built in the beginning
of the sixteenth century, due to the beneficence of the 'Ladies Conwy'. The
aisles are separated by four arches of the late Perpendicular period. Above
the pillars are carved stone angels holding shields. They seem to have been
removed from some other building and inserted as the stone has been chipped
to make room for them.
The porch and chancel appear to have been added after 1540 as the
will of a Hugh Conway, a later occupant of the Llys Euryn site, left the money
to construct them.
The tower is so conspicuous that it
seems to have been designed to serve as a look out. The top is 'stepped Irish
fashion', and its design suggests secular use. The turret at the south west
corner which goes by the name of the Rector's Chair, was intended to hold
an iron basket containing combustibles to flare as a warning beacon should
enemy ships be sighted. The Ancient Monuments Commisssion claimed that the
tower is as old as the earliest part of the church, but another authority
states that it was erected in 1552 through the generosity of the Conway family.
The lych gate bore a plaque dated 1677 and
was restored in 1907 and again in 1998. This latest restoration, although
of excellent workmanship, has included an unnecessary and inappropriate twentieth century roofing felt to the roof
Rhos on Sea, Colwyn Bay, Conwy,
The church is situated on the A546 between
Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. Exit the A55 expressway at the Rhos on Sea slip
road. Persevere along Brompton Avenue toward Llandudno for 1 mile and the
church is on the top of the hill, nearby the Ship Inn Hotel and Restaurant.
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Visit the next site.The Old Church of Llanaber and St Bodfan
Or visit the walesdirectory home page for links to other interesting Welsh historical
|With Acknowledgement to "The
Parish Church of Llandrillo-yn-Rhos" by Norman Tucker, F.R.Hist.S.