St Hywyn’s Church

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St Hywyn was a 6thC Celtic saint who is thought to have established a small oratory here. The present church dates from 1137 when Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd, replaced the earlier wooden structure with stone. The north aisle and west doorway date from this time. It became a sanctuary church where disputes could be settled and fugitives could not be ejected for 40 days and nights.

The church was an important stop on the pilgrim route to Bardsey Island and was enlarged in the 15thC when the south aisle was added. By the late 18thC the church had fallen into a bad state of repair and a new church was built high above the village. This had problems with damp and was abandoned and the old church restored and used again.

It is a low two aisle stone building set above the beach, surrounded by the graveyard. Constant erosion by the sea means this is now protected by a substantial sea wall with metal railings along the top. The slate roof is held down by stone slabs along the ends. Entry is through the Norman doorway at the west end which has three eroded round arches.

Inside it is a simple building with octagonal pillars with low round arches separating the two aisles which have a wooden truss roof. There is an octagonal stone font between the pillars and an organ on the north wall. At the back is a book and card shop.

There are simple altars at the ends of the aisles and a beautifully carved dark wood pulpit/reading desk.

Chairs now replace the pews in the south aisle although there are some highly restored dark wood benches arranged in a semi-circle in the north aisle.

At the back of the church is a small exhibition about the poet R.S.Thomas who was vicar of the parish from 1967 to 1978

A lot of money has been spent on the church since we last visited. The plaster has been removed from the wall exposing the stonework. Problems with damp have been addressed and the church felt warm. A wheel chair ramp has been built. There is a wheelchair available outside the church and modern embroidered banners hang from the walls. I have always loved this church but unfortunately for us, this has resulted in the church losing its character. We appreciate it will be a lot more comfortable for the congregation, but felt disappointed and won’t be visiting again.

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