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Review: St Beuno’s Church

Attraction - Castles & places of worship

Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom

History, Mystery and Celtic Christianity

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2310 reviews

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  • 2013
  • Husband

35 people found this review helpful

There has been a church on this site since the 6thC when St Beuno, a Celtic saint, retreated here for peace and quiet, away from the bustle of the Collegiate Church of Clynnog Fawr. All that remains of the early church is a large corner stone at the south east corner. The present building is thought to be 12thC and lies in a grassy hollow beside a stream and close to the sea. This is a typical site for many Welsh churches that relied on the sea for transport and water for healing and nourishment.

Built of the local dark stone with a slate roof, it is a very simple building with a single small bell cote. Originally it would have been built with no windows in the nave as the peasants were illiterate and didn’t need to see. Entry is through the old round top wooden door at the west end.

Inside are rough stone cast walls and a very old wooden beam ceiling. The walls used to be covered with plaster. On the north wall, in a surround of yew branches, is the remains of the medieval plaster with a crude red ochre wall painting, thought to be St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers.

The floor is strewn with rushes, hiding the modern concrete floor.

At the back of the church is a round stone font thought to be 12thC. It has a Celtic swirl pattern round the bowl.

The oak pews are a recent addition. Originally the congregation would have stood. The altar rail is modern and there is a simple altar covered with a cloth and two tall modern candlesticks on either side. Above is a square window with a board above with the inscription GLODFORWCH YR ARGLWYDD CANYS DA YW (Thanks unto the Lord for he is good).

There is a lepers squint in the north wall by the altar. Lepers visited the church in the Middle Ages and were housed in a hospice at Cae Hosbis Pennia, well away from the main body of pilgrims. During mass they stood outside the north west corner of the church and viewed mass through the squint. Many medicinal plants still grow wild in the surrounding valley.

The remains of the mill pond above the church is thought originally have been the site of a fish pond.

This is a delightful small church, untouched by time and still preserving the spirit of the old Celtic Christianity. When we first visited thirty years ago, the church used to be decorated with huge branches of laurel, gorse and yew. At Easter there were moss, flowers and eggs on the window ledges, round the font and on the altar. It had an almost pagan feel to it. Now the decoration is limited to yew branches on either side of the altar and round the medieval wall painting, rushes on the floor and the remains of moss on the window ledges. There isn’t the same sense of mystery and superstition, but it is still worth visiting.

There is a small car park at the top of the road and this is the start of a lovely way marked walk over National Trust land. There is a small information board and map by the car park.

35 people found this review helpful

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