Llanfihangel-y-traethau church, Talsarnau

Link to Welsh translationLlanfihangel-y-traethau church, Talsarnau

This ancient church was modified during Victorian restorations. The main walls are thought to be medieval.

Llanfihangel denotes the enclosure or church of St Michael (Mihangel). Many other churches in Wales are dedicated to him, usually with a suffix to distinguish one from another. This one is known as “of the beaches” (y traethau), after the sandy expanses of the Dwyryd estuary.

The church stands on an area of raised ground known as Ynys Llanfihangel-y-traethau. Ynys is Welsh for island, and centuries ago the ground was surrounded by seawater at high tide.

In the churchyard is a tall, narrow stone memorial from the 12th century. Its Latin inscription records the it marked the grave of a woman named Wleder, whose son Hoedliw first built the church in the time of “Wini Regis”. This dates the church to the reign of Owain Gwynedd, c1100-1170.

Some of the memorials inside the church date from the 17th century. From c.1751 the churchwardens here managed an endowment of £10 from a Catherine Humphreys for the poor of the parish.

In 1818 a gypsy harpist named John Abraham Wood (or Valentine Wood) was buried here. The Wood family was extensive in Wales from Tudor times. Some members of the family were noted musicians. John Wood, who died in April 1818 aged 76, had several sons who were also harpists.

One of them, John Wood Jones, was christened at this church in 1800 and became the most famous Welsh harpist of his time. He ran a harpists’ school in Carmarthen and was latterly harpist to Lady Llanover, who lived near Abergavenny. She herself played the harp. She was an important promoter of Welsh customs including the triple harp, which has three rows of strings.

Sources include the National Library of Wales

Postcode: LL47 6TN    View Location Map

Church website

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