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Visitor information

location

Ynyscynhaearn
Pentrefelin
Gwynedd
LL52 0PT

OS Reference

SH 525 388

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Closed for repairs

info

Please note that Ynyscynhaearn doesn’t appear on Google Maps.

This church is accessed via a narrow gate, just wide enough for a car, off the main road. It is hard to miss, so look out for two stone gate posts.
Please ensure that you close all gates behind yourself to protect the farmers’ livestock.

St Cynhaearn was a man of princely birth who embarked on a monastic life following the death of his father at the hands of the Saxons. It's said that he rowed out to an island on Llyn Ystumllyn in the 7th century and built his church.

While the 1892 Gestiana records burials here from AD 730, the oldest part of the surviving building is the 12th-century nave, however, in architectural terms it is the extraordinary interior which makes it special.

History

St Cynhaearn’s feels like a complete late-Georgian estate church of 1832, although it did serve as the parish church for the broader area until Porthmadog provided itself with its own place of worship at the end of the 19th century.

The north transept, which dates from 1622 in fabric, is full of tiered pews delicately painted with the names of the estate owners who were entitled to sit in each. Immediately opposite the north transept is the full-blooded triple-decker pulpit, with a position for the priest delivering the sermon and a desk for those delivering the readings. To the west is a gallery, which is commanded by the Flight and Robson chamber organ, which was brought here from Tremadog church in 1854.

There are two excellent stained-glass windows both by Powell & Sons. The east window of 1899 depicts a nativity scene, whiles the two light window of 1906 in the north transept shows St Cynhaearn and St David.

Outside, the churchyard too is full of interest. Uniquely, it includes the grave of a black man known as ‘John Ystumllyn’ (or Jac Du/Jack Black) who was captured in Africa circa 1742 and brought to serve the Wynne family, whose Ystumllyn estate surrounded the church.

A carved harp in relief on a chest tomb marks the resting place of David Owen, harpist and composer, generally known as Dafydd y Garreg Wen (David of White Rock), the name of his farm at Ynyscynhaearn. The air of that name was composed on his deathbed in 1749 (he was just twenty-nine) and performed in the church at his funeral. It was sung again in 1923 by Mostyn Thomas, the first words in Welsh to be broadcast on the BBC, and it is performed at the annual Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

St Cynhaearn, Ynyscynhaearn
St Cynhaearn, Ynyscynhaearn

Highlights

  • Lychgate with interesting memorials and funeral bier hanging from the rafters
  • Headstones to local tradespeople including the glazier, baker, watchmaker and confectioner
  • Graves of John Ystumllyn and David Owen
  • Pews painted with landowners’ names
  • Flight & Robson organ
  • Exquisite late 19th and early 20th-century stained glass
  • Painted chancel floor

Further reading

Please use these links if you would like to know more about the church and the surrounding area

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