After she was healed by her uncle St Beuno, St Winifred spent some time as a hermit then founded a religious house at Gwytherin, south of Conwy. Like many of the Welsh saints, she went to Rome on pilgrimage. According to one version of her life, it was she who summoned the great synod of the British church at which the religious houses were reformed and accepted a version of the Benedictine rule.
Winifred’s main shrine was at Holywell but she was buried at Gwytherin and her relics remained there until the Benedictine monks of Shrewsbury took them for their abbey (an incident which provides the setting for Ellis Peters’ novel A Morbid Taste for Bones). Nevertheless, the church at Gwytherin kept an elaborate carved wooden chest which was said to have been Winifred’s reliquary. There was a traditional pilgrimage route from Shrewsbury to Holywell and on to Gwytherin. The reliquary was still in Gwytherin in the eighteenth century, but devout visitors and sightseers took so many fragments from it that it was virtually dismembered. One of the gable ends was taken by a Jesuit priest to Holywell, where it was rediscovered by Nancy Edwards and Tristan Gray-Hulse in the early 1990s.
The church at Gwytherin is mostly nineteenth century but with some fourteenth-century gravestones inside. In the churchyard north of the church are four 5th or early 6th century pillar stones. One has the inscription VINNEMAGLI FILI SENEMAGLI - ([the stone of] Vinnemaglus son of Senemaglus). More information on the Celtic Inscribed Stones database - search the Alphabetical index for Gwytherin.
The Lion Inn in Gwytherin (tel. 01745 860123) is now a boutique hotel, right on the Cistercian Way and offering meals and accommodation. A little further off route, Nantyglyn Isaf further down the hill towards Melin-y-coed offers accommodation.