Llanrhychwyn is a hamlet
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

 in Conwy county borough, Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. It lies in the Conwy valley in North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

, less than a mile south of Trefriw
Trefriw is a village in Conwy County Borough, Wales. It lies on the river Conwy in North Wales, a few miles south of the site of the Roman fort of Canovium, sited at Caerhun. The parish population in 2001 was 924....

, and a mile north-west of Llanrwst
Llanrwst is a small town and community on the A470 road and the River Conwy in Conwy County Borough, Wales. It takes its name from the 5th century to 6th century Saint Grwst, and the original parish church in Cae Llan was replaced by the 12th-century church....

. Today neighbouring Trefriw is a large village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

 with a population of over 1,300, but in the time of Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great), and up to the early 19th century, Llanrhychwyn was larger than Trefriw, which consisted simply of "a few houses here and there" (quote from Hanes Trefriw, by Morris Jones). Indeed, even today both Trefriw and Llanrhychwyn lie within the parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 of Llanrhychwyn.

The adjacent Gwydir Forest
Gwydir Forest
Gwydir Forest, also spelled Gwydyr, is located in Conwy county borough and the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. It takes its name from the ancient Gwydir Estate, established by the John Wynn family of Gwydir Castle, which owned this area....

 would have provided work for many of the inhabitants. A number of metal mines were located in the forest, and the heyday of metal mining here was between 1850 and 1919. The forest also provided wood, and both timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 and metal were transported from the forest to the quay at neighbouring Trefriw, from where it was shipped downstream to the coast.

Llanrhychwyn takes its name from Rhychwyn (sometimes recorded as Rhochwyn), son of Helig ap Glannog, the prince who lived at Llys Helig
Llys Helig
Llys Helig was the palace of Prince Helig ap Glanawg who lived in the 6th century, and whose sons established a number of churches in the area....

 before it was inundated by the sea, and now the subject of myth and legend. Rhychwyn had several brothers who established churches and became saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

s, including Celynin, who established the old church at Llangelynnin
Llangelynnin is a former parish in the Conwy valley, in Conwy county borough, north Wales. Today the name exists only in connection with the church, a school in the nearby village of Henryd, and the nearby mountain ridge, Craig Celynnin.Llangelynnin Church is possibly one of the remotest...

, near Henryd
Henryd is a small village on the western slopes of the Conwy valley in Conwy county borough, north Wales. It lies about two miles south of Conwy, off the B5106 road.The river Henryd, a tributary of the river Conwy, flows through the village...

, further down the valley.

The church

Llanrhychwyn's main claim to fame is its parish church
Parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....

, which many claim is the oldest in Wales, it allegedly marking the site where Rhychwyn originally established his church in the 6th century. The church is known locally as Llewelyn’s Church, and the oldest part dates from the late 11th century, which means that it is marginally older than the old church

Llywelyn Fawr, Prince of Gwynedd
Kingdom of Gwynedd
Gwynedd was one petty kingdom of several Welsh successor states which emerged in 5th-century post-Roman Britain in the Early Middle Ages, and later evolved into a principality during the High Middle Ages. It was based on the former Brythonic tribal lands of the Ordovices, Gangani, and the...

 and de facto Prince of Wales, had a hunting lodge, known in documents as Y Ty Ddu, near Llyn Geirionydd, close to Llanrhychwyn. Llywelyn married Siwan or Joan
Joan, Lady of Wales
Joan, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon was the wife of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales and Gwynedd and effective ruler of most of Wales.-Early life:...

 a daughter of King John of England in 1205. In about 1230 Llywelyn endowed another church for the local community living on the valley bottom in the commotal centre, on the site where St Mary's, Trefriw now stands. Llywelyn and Siwan are portrayed in a remarkable stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

 window in the church, as are Rhychwyn and David in a window dating from 1533. An inscription in Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 asks for prayers for the donors.

Set within an ancient churchyard
A churchyard is a patch of land adjoining or surrounding a church which is usually owned by the relevant church or local parish itself. In the Scots language or Northern English language this can also be known as a kirkyard or kirkyaird....

, the church is a good example of early architecture. The east aisle was added in the 13th century, and the north aisle dates from the 16th century. It has a very old square font
Baptismal font
A baptismal font is an article of church furniture or a fixture used for the baptism of children and adults.-Aspersion and affusion fonts:...

, as old as the church itself, and an early example of stained glass in the east window. The roof beams, some 800 years old, are the earliest example in Wales. The ancient oak door has wooden hinges, and the bell, which dates from the 13th century, possibly came from Maenan Abbey. The altar rails date from 1616, and the pulpit
Pulpit is a speakers' stand in a church. In many Christian churches, there are two speakers' stands at the front of the church. Typically, the one on the left is called the pulpit...

 from 1691. The chalice
Chalice (cup)
A chalice is a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general religious terms, it is intended for drinking during a ceremony.-Christian:...

 is dated 1614 and is of an ornate design. The registers date from 1594.

These days, services are only held in Llanrhychwyn church during the summer months, and on special occasions. If locked, the key is available from Tu hwnt i'r Gors Farm, nearby. (photographs)

Morris Jones also records in Welsh that this church was "built by Llywelyn for [his wife's] use, and for the use of the inhabitants, for their kindness towards him, and that he donated a number of farms from the parish of Llanrhychwyn, naming them as the parish of Tref Rhiw Las. It got this name from the slope on which it stood".

Famous inhabitants

A popular belief, based on a misinterpretation of a line of poetry in the Red Book of Hergest
Red Book of Hergest
The Red Book of Hergest is a large vellum manuscript written shortly after 1382, which ranks as one of the most important medieval manuscripts written in the Welsh language. It preserves a collection of Welsh prose and poetry, notably the tales of the Mabinogion, Gogynfeirdd poetry...

 by eighteenth and early nineteenth century antiquarian scholars, is that Taliesin
Taliesin was an early British poet of the post-Roman period whose work has possibly survived in a Middle Welsh manuscript, the Book of Taliesin...

(c. 534–c.599), the 6th-century Welsh bard
In medieval Gaelic and British culture a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities.Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland...

, and the earliest poet of the Welsh language whose work has survived, was an inhabitant of the area, living on the shores of Llyn Geirionydd and buried there. It has even been claimed that he was also born in this area, but it is far more likely that he was born in Powys
Powys is a local-government county and preserved county in Wales.-Geography:Powys covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire , and a small part of Denbighshire — an area of 5,179 km², making it the largest county in Wales by land area.It is...

, as demonstrated by his poems to Cynan Garwyn
Cynan Garwyn
Cynan Garwyn was king of Powys in the north-east and east of Wales, who flourished in the second half of the 6th century. Little reliable information exists which can be used to reconstruct the background and career of the historical figure...

, King of Powys.

Robert Williams (Trebor Mai)
Robert Williams (Trebor Mai)
Robert Williams , usually referred to by his bardic name Trebor Mai, was a Welsh language poet, born in Llanrhychwyn, near Llanrwst, in the old county of Caernarfonshire, north Wales....

 (1830–77) was born near the parish church and grew up in the village. He later moved to Llanrwst and became one of the most famous poets of his day, being particularly admired for his mastery of the englyn
Englyn is a traditional Welsh and Cornish short poem form. It uses quantitative metres, involving the counting of syllables, and rigid patterns of rhyme and half rhyme. Each line contains a repeating pattern of consonants and accent known as cynghanedd.- The Eight Types :There are eight types of...


John Roberts (1828–1904) was a native of neighbouring Trefriw, and he used that name in his job as a printer and bookseller. In Eisteddfods he would assume the bardic name of Gwilym Cowlyd, and frequently levelled criticism at the Gorsedd
A gorsedd plural gorseddau, is a community or coming together of modern-day bards. The word is of Welsh origin, meaning "throne". It is occasionally spelled gorsedh , or goursez in Brittany....

 for being too Anglicised. In 1865, he founded a separate festival to rival the big National Eisteddfod, and called it Arwest Glan Geirionydd (‘Music Festival on the Banks of the River Geirionydd’), and the meeting point was the Taliesin Memorial by Llyn Geirionydd.

Richard Owen Roberts, the father of Gwilym Roberts the story-teller, was born in Llanrhychwyn (see this link).

(Note that some sources retain the older spelling of Geirionydd, i.e. with two n's)

A popular walking area

Today many walkers pass through Llanrhychwyn on their way to or from the Gwydir Forest
Gwydir Forest
Gwydir Forest, also spelled Gwydyr, is located in Conwy county borough and the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. It takes its name from the ancient Gwydir Estate, established by the John Wynn family of Gwydir Castle, which owned this area....

, a popular area of lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s and forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

 walks. The lane through Llanrhychwyn continues from Trefriw or Llanrwst (via several gates) to Llyn Geirionydd
Llyn Geirionydd
Llyn Geirionydd lies in a valley in North Wales where the northern edge of the Gwydyr Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains. The lake is almost a mile long and covers an area of , but is never any deeper than according to Jehu’s survey ...

, one of the most popular lakes in the area. Over the hill (Mynydd Deulyn) from Llyn Geirionydd is Llyn Crafnant
Llyn Crafnant
Llyn Crafnant is a lake that lies in a beautiful valley in North Wales where the northern edge of the Gwydir Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains and, more specifically, the ridge of Cefn Cyfarwydd. The head of the valley offers a profile of crags which are silhouetted at...

, reached only by car from Trefriw, and regarded by many as one of the most beautiful spots in Wales. Most of the tourist traffic passing though Llanrhychwyn is totally unaware of the historical significance of the hamlet, and indeed the road itself does not actually pass the old church.

One of the "Trefriw Trail" walks passes Llanrhychwyn Church. See this link.

Another walk from Llanrwst can be found here.

External links

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