‘The church of St. Mary in the Vale of Clwyd’ - in Welsh Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd - shares its dedication with ‘Saint’ Cynfarch, apparently a Celtic chieftain from northern Britain, related to Coel Hen or ‘Old King Cole’. A fine big 15th century ‘double-naved’ church with an impressive tower - an unusual distinction hereabouts - it also shares its churchyard with massive yew trees, the stump of a preaching cross, a Georgian ‘vestry house and a timbered lychgate inscribed ‘Heb Dduw, Heb Ddim’ (Without God, Without Anything’).
Though the interior is much restored, medieval features remain here. Both roofs have carved ‘canopies of honour’ over their east ends - a distinctive local feature - and part of the medieval rood screen still stands in the south aisle. Beside the altar, and perhaps two centuries older than this woodwork, lies a splendidly preserved monument to an early 14th century Welsh knight, David ap Madoc: it depicts his hand clutching his sword, and a delightfully cat-like lion on his flowery shield. The most outstanding medieval survival, however, is the mosaic of stained glass (dated 103) in a south window, including figures of saints and the feet of Christ pierced by a huge golden nail. According to tradition, this glass was once in the big window above the altar, and was preserved from destruction during the Civil War by being buried in the mighty iron-bound oak chest which stands below its present position. There is more medieval glass in the window by the font, near the Elizabethan memorial to Thomas ap Rice, who died ‘at cock-crow’ on a Sunday in 1582. The well-written guide book will enhance a visit to this attractive church.
Church generally open daylight hours.