Saint Baglan’s Church


Situated on the coast, south of Caernarfon the church, and its cemetary, stand like a small island in a field. I’d been planning a visit to this church for some time, but Covid-19 happened.

The period between AD 500–700 was known as the age of the saints; during this time monastic settlements were established throughout Wales by religious leaders such as Saints David, Illtud and Teilo. Unlike other countries, Wales named many place names after local or well known saints. It’s not always the case, but in general, places beginning with Llan would be followed by a saints name. e.g Llanbedr – Peter (Pedr); Llanfihangel – St Michael (Mihangel).

Baglan founded a cell in the 6th century at what is now known as Llanfaglan, but later he left to become Abbott of the monastic settlement on the Holy Island of Bardsey.

The present day church is a 13th century stone building, and as the name suggests it is dedicated to Baglan.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.9-18mm F4.0-5.6 ISO 200 1/400 sec at ƒ / 8.0

When I first arrived at the car park, the couple you see in the next photograph were sitting on the wall taking a drink. They had walked from Caernarfon and were just getting ready to head up to the church. My immediate thought – photo opportunity. Those two walking in the field would give a sense of scale.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/4000 sec at ƒ / 6.3

In my haste to get the photograph I forgot to check the aperture. f2.8 does not allow for much depth of field, but in this case, I got away with. Mainly because the background is light puffy clouds and if they’re not sharp it doesn’t really matter.

With many of the historic churches built in Wales there is usually evidence of the current building being built over the site of a much older place of worship. In the case of Saint Baglan’s, stones within the church’s structure and the cemetery surrounding the church, suggest a building from the 5th century existed on this site.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.9-18mm F4.0-5.6 ISO 200 1/640 sec at ƒ / 8.0

Over the years St Baglan’s has undergone major renovations but the interior still retains some of its medieval character.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.9-18mm F4.0-5.6 ISO 200 1/30 sec at ƒ / 8.0

Inside, the church is very austere and typical of many of the old churches I have photographed around North Wales. A simple wooden altar, stone floors, wooden benches and plain glass in the windows.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/125 sec at ƒ / 8.0

Box pews, installed in the 18th century, (they’re initialled and dated) were for the gentry.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 0.4 sec at ƒ / 8.0

Exposed open beams for the roof and simple plastered walls are typical in this type of church.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/40 sec at ƒ / 8.0

You only have to look at this blog post I wrote in November 2012 about Llangelynnin, another 6th century church to see what I mean.

In a quiet corner of the cemetery is the burial plot of Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon GCVO FRSA RDI (7 March 1930 – 13 January 2017). He was a British photographer and filmmaker who married Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

To write about him would take far too long, so follow this link to Wikipedia if you want to know more.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.9-18mm F4.0-5.6 ISO 200 1/250 sec at ƒ / 8.0

That’s it from me, as always, stay safe.

15 thoughts on “Saint Baglan’s Church

  1. My wife and I will be staying very near Llanbedr in a few weeks time – though probably having to isolate for 14 days! Hopefully we will still be able to get some fresh air and stretch our legs to have a look at this church ourselves. My wife likes wandering around graveyards and I’m sure would like to see that headstone. (We have our fingers crossed the quarantine rules will be relaxed soon!)

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      1. Yes, my wife mentioned that there’s a church “buried in the sand”. I suspect that’s it. A bit nearer as you say. (I hadn’t realised St Baglan’s was so far away until I looked at the map afterwards. Wales is bigger than you, well I, think! 😉)

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        1. That would be St Tanwg’s, The beach at Llandanwg is very rocky and if there’s a good sunset over the Llyn Peninsula can make for a good photograph. Not far from there, at the junction of the A496 and the Llandanwg road is “Oh My” corner. Once again it relies on a good sunset but from up above you look over the long sweep of Harlech beach to the Llyn Peninsula.

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    1. North Wales is full of old churches, many of them in remote locations, Ruby. I did a project, a good few years back, in conjunction with Conwy County Council, to photograph all of the old churches in their county. https://www.visitconwy.org.uk/things-to-do/rural-conwy-sacred-doorways-trail-p293331.

      Inside each church is an information board with a history of the church and photographs of the important things to see. Also some of the photographs were used as postcards.

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      1. This took time. We had someone in the area going through the history of our church. My husband is the pastor. I don’t remember the name of the person. He was thorough in his comments.

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  2. I noticed the trees, and the clouds, and wanted to see what this was about. In this case, pictures drew me to the writing. Please keep taking pictures. Those clouds in the picture are awesome.

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  3. Those old churches in Wales is simply beautiful and you really capture the beauty of them. The beautiful stone and the general feel of the building makes it seem very remote and very quiet. It has that very far away feel. Are the very old buildings maintained by the government or private organizations?

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    1. Yvonne, many of the old buildings are maintained by CADW which is a welsh government organisation responsible for historic buildings. Cadw is a Welsh word meaning ‘to keep’ or ‘to protect’.

      The historic churches are in the care of the diocese, although there are a few that CADW looks after, so in general the church in Wales has to maintain the churches

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