St Gwynhoedl’s Church

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This is another church on the pilgrim route to Bardsey Island, set in trees at above the stream at a bend in the road. There is no other habitation in sight but it is at the centre of the disperse settlement of Llangwynnadl. Like Pistyll (separate review) there has been a church here since the 6thC. Gwynhoedl is reputed to be one of the sons of the Welsh Chieftain called Seith enyn, who, in his folly, was responsible for the drowning of the township of Cantre’r Gwaelod, which is now submerged in Cardigan Bay. He is thought to be buried here and a large stone in the south wall of the church with a carved Celtic cross with traces of red paint dating from 600AD is reputed to be his tombstone.

A small church was built on the site in Roman times. During the Middle Ages, the shrine of Gwynhoedl became popular and was one of the main halts on the pilgrim route. in 1520 the church was enlarged and the north aisle built. Shortly after the south aisle was added.

The church is surrounded by a well cared for churchyard with a stone wall round it. Entry is through a metal gate with a wrought iron Celtic cross in the centre and the inscription TY DDUW, which was made by the Aberdaron blacksmith in 1963.

Built of dark stone with a slate roof, there is a single bell cote above the central aisle and small stone crosses at both ends of the side aisles. Entry is through the small round topped south door.

Steps lead down into the church which has three equal sizes aisles. These have a simple wood beam roof supported on stone corbels with supporting struts. Two pillars with low pointed arches separate the aisles. The two pillars in the north aisle have a Latin inscription carved on them.

The church has a light and airy feel being lit by large decorated style plain glass windows. There are two small altars at the ends of the side aisles with a white cloth with a gold cross. In the north aisle is a small pulpit/reading desk with a Bible. Steps lead up to the chancel in the centre aisle. The floor has black and white diamond tiles with a red carpet down the centre.

Pews are simple wooden open back benches with embroidered kneelers.

At the back of the church is an octagonal stone font with carved sides. According to the information leaflet in the church, the crowned figure is supposed to be Henry VIII. The mitred head is that of Bishop Skeffington of Bangor who took a keen interest in the church. Other carvings include a fleur de lys and a shield with a cross.

This is a delightful church, carefully restored to maintain its character and feels well loved, used and cared for.

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