St Beuno’s Church, Pistyll

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St Beuno’s Church, Pistyll

In the 6th century, this spot was a place of solitude for Beuno, a tireless missionary. It was later a hospice for pilgrims travelling to Bardsey.

The current church mostly dates from the 15th century, some of it possibly from the 12th. According to Cadw, the official heritage body, the walls are of rhyolite rubble and the interior features a five-bay arch-braced roof from the 15th century. The roof was thatched until the early 20th century, when a slate roof was added. Holes for the ropes which secured the thatch are visible in the timbers.

The church floor is traditionally covered with rushes and herbs. The font dates from the 11th century. On one of the walls inside is an ancient wall painting depicting two people. Services are held monthly in the church, on Christmas Eve and to celebrate Lammas in August.

Buried in the churchyard is actor Rupert Davies (1916-1976), best known for playing the detective Maigret on television. His introduction to acting was remarkable. He became a sub-lieutenant observer with the Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War, but in 1940 his plane crashed. He was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III, the prisoner of war camp famous for the 1943 escape from it by three inmates, who had used a vaulting horse to conceal the tunnel they were digging.

Hiding the ever-growing volume of spoil from the tunnel was a problem, until a seat in the camp’s theatre was adapted for storage. The camp’s theatre crew, which Davies had joined, then rehearsed each day to distract from the illicit activity.

About the place-name:

In modern Welsh, pistyll means fountain. Here the place-name refers to a spring below the farm near the church, and was written in 1254 as Pistibus. This probably represents the Latin pistillus, from which the Welsh pistyll is derived.

With thanks to Prof Hywel Wyn-Owen of the Welsh Place-Name Society for place-name information

Postcode: LL53 6LR    View Location Map

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