Llangelynnin Church


Llangelynnin Church (Welsh: Eglwys Llangelynnin) is possibly one of the remotest churches in Wales (53.2458°N 3.8730°W), and is amongst the oldest; that at Llanrhychwyn, further up the valley, is a little older. The church is dedicated to Saint Celynin, who lived in the 6th century and probably established the first religious settlement here. It lies at a height of just over 900 feet above the village of Henryd in the Conwy valley, in the shelter of Tal y Fan(610m), the hill to the south-west. There is a paved track almost to the church but it’s steep, rutted, worn away in parts and very narrow. I’ve got 4 wheel drive and at one point I thought I was going to be in trouble.

A small and simple building, it probably dates from the 12th century (although some sources cite the 13th century), and was probably pre-dated by an earlier church of timber, or wattle and daub construction. Llangelynnin is also the name of the former parish, the primary school in nearby Henryd (Ysgol Llangelynnin). Celynnin’s name is also carried by Craig Celynnin, a mountain ridge adjacent to the church.

Llangelynnin Church

Celynin lived in the 6th century, and according to tradition was one of the sons of Helig ap Glanawg, the prince who lived at Llys Heligbefore the sea inundated the land off the coast of Penmaenmawr. It is said that Celynin was related to Rhun, son of Maelgwn Gwynedd, Prince of Gwynedd, who is known to have ruled in the 6th century, and that he was also a brother to Rhychwyn, the saint associated with Llanrhychwyn church.

Next to the church lie the remains of an ancient hut circle, and some stories romantically suggest that this was where St. Celynin himself lived. The church is overlooked from the north-east by the adjacent crags of Cerrig-y-ddinas, the site of an Iron Age hill fort. These crags afford wide views down the Conwy valley to the sea, and up the valley as far as Dolgarrog.

Llangelynnin Church

The porch was added in the 15th century, and features an unusual “squint window” in its east (right) wall. Repairs to the porch roof were made using yew wood, and therefore it is quite possible that these came from the churchyard, which at one time contained trees. The door hinges and threshold date from the 14th century, although the door itself is more recent.

The nave is the oldest part of the church, dating from the 12th century, and the present chancel was added later, probably in the 14th century. Originally the nave would not have been paved, as it is today, and indeed, the rear of the north chapel remains unpaved even today. The roof contains dark oak rafters.

The Pews

The north transept was added in the 15th century and was known as Capel Meibion, the “men’s chapel”. The window at the back of the chapel was a more recent addition.

North Transept Llangelynnin

Opposite the north transept, a south transept was also added, probably in the 16th century. This was called Capel Eirianws (meaning “Plum Orchard“, the name of a local farm), whose owner possibly had it built. This chapel was demolished in the 19th century, but some remains are still visible from outside. The present east window dates from the 15th century, and replaced a smaller 14th century window. Since demolition of the south chapel (and the gallery) in the 19th century, the church has changed little.

Want to know more about this little church. Wikipedia has a great article about Llangelynnin Church

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15 Comments

  1. I relly enjoyed reading so much of the history that is associated with this very ancient church. I see great beauty in this stone and timber church.. It is wonderful that it is so well preserved. I thought I saw an organ and if so is the church still used? The photographs are excellent.

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    1. I’m not sure if the organ still works and to be honest I didn’t want to touch it. As far as I am aware they still hold an occasional service there but I don’t think it’s a regular Sunday thing.

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  2. What an interesting post and the photos are great. I love visiting this type of small, old church. When travelling in Scotland I had the opportunity to visit several old castle ruins that were also fun.

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  3. I love this post card perfect old church. The wood and interior of it is awesome. Your photos brought out the best things in this church. I wonder how that organ sounds?

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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    1. Thank you. There are so many old churches here and quite a few castles as well. Most churches allow photography, which is good. As to the organ, I’m not sure. I didn’t want to touch it as it looked really old.

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    1. Most of the other photographs I took were of the church from different angles but thank you for your comment. I’m planning a trip to Valle Crucis Abbey, which is a ruined abbey so I will have plenty of photographs from that trip.

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  4. Beautiful photos. Have you been to the craft centre in Ruthin? Cefn Burgess stitches old Welsh Chapels and Churches. I’m sure he’d love to see these pictures too.

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  5. I particularly enjoyed that first interior shot – so much atmosphere in these buildings, makes me want to go on a church photographing tour – should there be such a thing 😉 I have to pay more attention to these wonderful old buildings in my travels.

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  6. That settles it, Mike. I just have to get to Wales! Rumor has it my maternal grandmother was born in Wales, but doesn’t everyone want to claim that factoid? Beautiful shots.

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    1. The harmonium is used for services but please do not try it out as it can be troublesome and it is not easy to get it repaired. There is a service at 2.00pm on the third Sunday of May, July and September.

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