The Gwydir forest


Stained glass at Llanrhychwyn: St David and another saint (possibly beuno, possibly Rhychwyn)

Llanrhychwyn claims to be Wales’s oldest church building. The great Welsh ruler Llywelyn ab Iorwerth had a court near here and this was his local church. (According to local legend, he eventually built a church nearer his house at Trefriw, because the Sunday journey to Llanrhychwyn was too long for his wife Siwan. She was the illegitimate daughter of King John of England - and presumably she was not used to Welsh mountains!)

The church is in a lovely position, in a little valley below the Gwydir forest. Inside it is full of light and peace. Like many north Wales churches, it has a double nave - which gives scope for two big east windows and some fine stained glass. In the south nave is a lovely late medieval depiction of the Trinity. A sorrowful bearded God the Father holds a crucifix with his dying son on his knees. Over his breast hovers the dove of the Holy Spirit. In the surrounding glass are fragments from the story of Christ’s childhood. The picture of Christ as a baby in his mother’s arms is particularly appealing, all tiny outstretched hands and feet. The north nave has a touching Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary standing stoically at her son’s side. Below this are St David and another saint.

Places to llanrhychwyn


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