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Site 4

Efenechtyd

Church of St Michael and All Angels

Set amid a cluster of old houses in a deep and remote valley, St Michael’s is the tiny church of a pretty hamlet. Its circular yew-grown churchyard is a sign of Celtic origins, and the first church here may have been founded by monks from St Saeran’s community at Llanynys (Site 46): the name Efenechtyd could mean ‘place of the monks’. The present building - only twenty feet wide, and the second smallest church in the diocese of St Asaph - probably dates from the 13th century, but was extensively restored in 1873.

The ancient door with its spur-shaped iron knocker leads to a simple and very peaceful interior. It’s most remarkable treasure is the rare medieval wooden font, a single circular oak block hewn with fourteen facets over a ring of beading: it is probably a 15th or 16th century local copy of the stone fonts then fashionable. The low battlemented rail nearer the altar is also late medieval, and part of a rood screen (see Derwen Site 6), but the east window is older and perhaps of c.1300.

Notable later features include a rare fragment of a Welsh wall-painted Ten Commandments (doubtless Elizabethan or Jacobean) and a painted timber monument to Catherine Lloyd (1810), with cherubs and skull and cross-bones. The Georgian monument to Joseph Conway displays his family crest of ‘a blackamoor’s head’: similar heads adorn the gateposts of his (private) house, Plas-yn-Llan, a short step from the churchyard gate. The rounded stone by the font is the ‘Maen Camp’, formerly used at the local ‘campau’ (‘Sports’) on St. Michael’s Day, the 29th of September. Village Samsons strove to hurl it backwards over their heads: please do not try this!

The church is generally open for visitors.

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Church of St. Michael, Efenechtyd

Wooden font, Efenechtyd