Pilgrim Churches of the Llyn Peninsula

St Gwynhoedl’s Church, Llangwnnadl

A three aisle pilgrim church on the way to Bardsey Island

There has been a church on this site since the C6th. Gwynhoedl is one of the earliest Celtic saints and is reputed to be one of the sons of the Welsh Chieftain Seithenyn who, in his folly, was responsible for the drowning of the township of Cantre'r Gwaelod which is now submerged in Cardigan Bay. He is thought to be buried here and a large stone in the south wall of the church with a carved Celtic cross with traces of red paint dating from 600AD is reputed to be his tombstone.

During the Middle Ages, the shrine of Gwynhoedl became popular and was one of the main halts on the pilgrim route to Bardsey Island. In 1520 the church was enlarged and the north aisle built. Shortly after the south aisle was added.

Llangwnnadl church

The church is surrounded by a well cared for churchyard with a stone wall round it. Entry is through a metal gate with a wrought iron Celtic cross in the centre and the inscription TY DDUW, (House of God), which was made by the Aberdaron blacksmith in 1963.

Steps lead down into the church which has three equal sizes aisles. These have a simple wood beam roof supported on stone corbels with supporting struts. Two pillars with low pointed arches separate the aisles. One of the pillars in the north arcade has a Latin inscription recording that St  Gwynhoedl is buried here.  Pews are simple wooden open back benches with embroidered kneelers.

Llangwnnadl church

The church has a light and airy feel being lit by large Decorated style, plain glass windows. There are two small altars at the ends of the side aisles. The north aisle also has a small pulpit/reading desk with a Bible. Steps lead up to the chancel in the centre aisle. The floor has black and white diamond tiles with a red carpet down the centre.

At the back of the church is an octagonal stone font with carved sides. According to the information leaflet in the church, the crowned figure is supposed to be Henry VIII. The mitred head is that of Bishop Skeffington of Bangor who took a keen interest in the church. Other carvings include a fleur de lys and a shield with a cross.

Llangwnaddl is a very disperse settlement and the church is well away from other buildings. It is on an unclassified road off the B4417, near the bridge across the stream. The road goes off to the north and the church is half way along the road on the way to Pen-y-Graig.  The post code is  LL53 8NN and the grid reference is SH209332. The church is open every day and there is parking on the road outside.

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