St Grwst’s Church, Llanrwst
This church building dates largely from the 1470s. The rood screen inside is almost as old as the church and regarded as one of the finest in Wales. The north aisle and tower were added in 1884.
The original church on this site was destroyed in 1468, during the Wars of the Roses, by Yorkists seeking revenge for Denbigh being set alight. That early church was founded by Rhun ap Nefydd Hardd to expiate the murder by his father of Prince Idwal, son of Owain Gwynedd (king of Gwynedd until c.1170).
The church is dedicated to Grwst, a holy man who built a cell at Cae Llan, in Llanrwst, in the 6th century. His signature is preserved on a document about a grant by Maelgwn Gwynedd. Capel Seion now stands on Cae Llan.
The Welsh word Llan denotes a walled enclosure around a church or cell. Llanrwst = the enclosure of Grwst. To hear how to pronounce Llanrwst, press play: Or, download mp3 (17KB)
As you walk through the churchyard to the church’s entrance, you’ll pass a projecting part of the building called the Gwydir Chapel. It was built in 1633-1634 by Sir Richard Wynne, a major landowner who lived at nearby Gwydir Castle. The chapel was probably designed by Inigo Jones, best known for his Covent Garden market in London.
Inside the chapel are memorials to members of the Wynne family and a stone effigy of a knight, thought to be Hywel Coetmor, killed in Belgium in 1388 while fighting for the Black Prince. Also in the chapel is a sarcophagus, missing its lid, which was reputedly that of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, the first Prince of Wales. He died in 1240 and was buried in Aberconwy Abbey, but his body was removed when King Edward I took the site to build Conwy Castle and the adjoining walled town. The size of this sarcophagus does not match a tomb slab inscribed with the name "Llywelyn ab Iorwerth" which is incorporated into a wall at Gyffin church, Conwy.
Postcode: LL26 0LE View Location Map