We were staying on a farm in the hamlet of Henryd in the Conwy Valley, Wales and, one early morning, we walked to the church. St. Celynnin appeared out of the mist amidst the bleating of the sheep and the birds’ dawn chorus. St Celynnin is situated at the top of a promontory which looks down on the beautiful Conwy Valley and meandering river. Access to the church is over tracks and fields. Many tracks actually lead up to this remarkable little church as the original congregation came from many different villages down the valley.
St Celynnin lies 1000ft above sea level in the foothills of Snowdonia’s Carneddau Mountains. In Prehistoric and Roman times people traveled along this trail that circles the churchyard as this was the main route between the towns of Conwy and Penmaenmawr. An ancient settlement probably did exist on the site and that is most likely why St. Celynnin built the church here.
The existing church dates back to the twelfth or thirteen Century and is of rubble construction. The walls are extremely thick affording excellent shelter from the ravages of the weather.
In 1840 the church was replaced by a new building dedicated to St. Celynnin down in the village of Rowen. The original church has now been deconsecrated but several services are held there in the summer months.
St Celynnin lived in the 6th Century and was reputedly one of the 12 sons of Helig ap Glannog. Helig lost his court, Llys Helig, when the sea flooded it and, in consequence of this tragic loss, the sons lived to worship God.
The famous well of St. Celynnin is found in the corner of the churchyard. This was where families would bring their ailing children to discover if they might survive. It is thought that St. Celynnin would baptize those he converted to Christianity here. Over the years the well gained the reputation for “having the power to heal sick children or to predict whether the child’s health would be restored” (plaque)
The church is small but perfectly nestled into the back of a small hill which affords some shelter from the bleak north wind. Inside the church it is very simple. The oak pews face the altar and the plain window above. The oak beams tower up high and there is a certain serenity within. The church is now maintained by the National Trust, Conwy Borough Council and a dedicated group of friends of the church.
The tracks outside are part of the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way that traverses this beautiful area going from Holywell to Bardsey Island. St. Celynnin church is featured by Sacred Doorways, an organization that promotes the discovery of churches and small chapels in small towns and villages in Conwy.
HistoryPoints.org is an initiative that works with historic churches and chapels across rural Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire. Many trails are featured ready to be discovered by you and each venue has an unique story to tell.
We thank these organizations for their informational resources. Please visit their websites and discover your very own gems!