Old Llangelynnin Church, Llwyngwril

Old Llangelynnin Church, Llwyngwril

This isolated church was routinely used for Christian worship until the 1840s, when a new church was built in a more convenient spot in the village of Llwyngwril.

Both churches are dedicated to St Celynnin, who lived in the 6th century and was reputedly one of the 12 sons of Helig ap Glannog. His base was around the old church dedicated to him near Conwy.

According to folklore, Celynnin urged a local leader named Cadell to build a church, warning him that his military successes would count for nothing otherwise. Celynin insisted that the church be built here, but Cadell had other ideas. Once Celynin had returned to the north coast, Cadell got his men to start building the church higher up the hill. The following morning, all the stones which had been laid had moved down to Celynin’s chosen site. This happened each night until Cadell gave in and ordered the church’s construction here.

The church is noted in records from 1254. The current building mostly dates from c.1500.

No services were held in the church for about 50 years until 1917, when it was reopened for Sunday afternoon services. Although some restoration work was carried out for the reopening, many old features of the church have survived, partly because of the building’s lack of use. Ancient wall paintings inside show pieces of text and a skeleton. The skeleton is a memento mori (reminder of mortality).

The church benches are thought to date from the 1820s and are inscribed with the names of the people who occupied them centuries ago. The seats are arranged by order of the occupants’ class and influence, down to servants.

Today the building is kept as a special Sanctuary Church by the Diocese of Bangor, with occasional services held here.

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