Knight effigy, St Michael’s Church, Betws-y-Coed

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Knight effigy, St Michael’s Church, Betws-y-Coed

This effigy in St Michael's Church is a likeness of Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch. It’s carved on a stone slab, which was probably the lid of a chest tomb or coffin.  It dates from c.1380 and was once sited somewhere else in the church. When it was moved, it was cut down slightly to fit in the alcove.

Gruffydd was one of the most important people in this area in the 14th century. He was a small landowner. He and his wife Margaret freely held half the township of Cwmllanerch, a short distance north of Betws-y-Coed. This meant he didn’t have to pay rent to the king, and could sub-let land and property in exchange for dues and services. Gruffydd was also the foreman of a jury set up in Trefriw to report to Edward, the Black Prince (son of King Edward III) about matters such as rent and land. 

It’s thought that Gruffydd fought for the English in the 100 Years War in France, under the Black Prince.  The fact that the effigy depicts him in armour is symbolic of his status as a mercenary and of his status in the Nant Conwy area. The effigy was probably painted with vibrant colours and gilded originally, but it was washed over with cement slurry in the Victorian period. 

The effigy of Gruffydd’s grandson, Hywel Coetmor, lies in Gwydyr Chapel, which adjoins St Grwst’s Church in Llanrwst. 

Words on the side of Gruffydd’s effigy state that he was the son of Dafydd Goch. Some early historians suggested that Gruffydd’s father was the illegitimate son of Dafydd ap Gruffydd, grandson of Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) and younger brother of Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf (the last indigenous Prince of Wales).  However, there’s no evidence to support this. 

More recent genealogists name his father as Dafydd Goch of Penmachno, who descended from Nefydd Hardd, the traditional head of the Sixth Noble Tribe of Wales:

Nefydd Hardd (c.1105) – Iorwerth (c.1140) – Llywelyn (c.1170) – Gruffydd (c.1200) – Dafydd (c.1230) – Dafydd Goch of Penmachno (c.1260) – Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch (c.1290)

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL24 0AL

Website of the Friends of St Michael's Church