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Site 45

Llangynhafal

Church of St. Cynhafal

St. Cynfal’s is not to be missed. The one and only church dedicated to this saint - probably a 7th century Welsh monk, whose holy well was renowned for banishing warts and rheumatism - it stands in a circular ‘Celtic’ churchyard against the splendid backdrop of Moel Famau, with a farm and the timber-framed mansion of Plas-yn-Llan for company.

Like so many of the region’s larger churches, the grey-rendered building dates from the late 15th or early 16th century, and is ‘double-naved’. Each nave within has a fine and also characteristically local) hammer-beamed and braced roof, with carved heads and angels. One of these has been brought down for closer viewing: winged and crowned, he holds a shield and floats on a stylised cloud. Another little 15th century figure flanks the entrance to the spacious, light-filled and clearly well-loved interior, which abounds in curious and delightful features.

Among the most striking is the painted swan-like ‘pelican’ on her nest above the south altar, feeding her chicks with her own blood. This symbol of Christ who nourishes His Church with His own blood) dates from 1690, like the trumpet-bearing angel painted below. The pelican appears again on the pulpit of 1636, along with a lion, cockatrice and crocodile.

No list features, however, can convey the peaceful and welcoming atmosphere of St. Cynhafal’s, a church well worth seeking out. There is a helpful and amusing guide sheet for visitors which points out the distinctive features.

Key available for church. It is also possible to visit the ancient single chamber church of St. Hychan, Llanychan. Contact the parish priest Russell Owen, on (08124) 704051.

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Carved angel, Llangynhafal