St Mary’s Church, Llanfair

St Mary’s Church, Llanfair

The oldest parts of this church, including the east window, date from the 15th century. The building was extended, probably in the following two centuries, and refurbished by the Victorians.

An earlier church here was also dedicated to Mary, as Gerald of Wales noted. He and Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, stayed a night here in 1188 while travelling around Wales to preach and recruit for the third crusade.

As they resumed their travels the next morning, they were met by Maredudd ap Cynan and some of his men. He was one of the sons of Cynan who ruled Meirionnydd. Several of the men signed up for the crusade on the spot. One of them was about to have the cross symbol stitched to his cloak when Maredudd noticed how threadbare the garment was. Maredudd tearfully gave the man his own cloak.

The many memorials inside the church include a slate inscribed in 1520 to commemorate the Owen family, owners of the nearby Crafnant estate.

A slab in the vestry floor commemorates the writer Ellis Wynne, rector here from 1711 until he died in 1734. One of the church’s Victorian stained glass windows is dedicated to him, a reflection of his esteem as an author. His was famed for his book Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg (“Visions of the sleeping bard”). He also wrote several hymns, along with carols for the plygain service – held in the hours before cock-crow on Christmas morning.

Ellis’ home, Lasynys Fawr, still stands on a rock outcrop north of Harlech and is sometimes open to visitors.

Inside St Mary’s Church you can also see a rood screen carved in the 17th century. The roof trusses above the chancel are survivors from the 15th century.

Postcode: LL46 2SA    View Location Map

Parish website

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