MADPRIEST HAS A BIRTHDAY

Yesterday was my birthday. It rained most of the day but everything went splendidly except for dinner in the evening. We turned up at the pub where we were going to eat only to be told that “the chef was under the weather” so they weren’t serving food. It was too late in the evening to make alternative arrangements so I celebrated my fifty fourth with a bacon sandwich in the caravan. Nevermind. As I said, the rest of the day was great. Here is the photographic record.

St Beuno’s Church is dedicated to St. Beuno, one of the most important Welsh 
saints. St. Beuno was awarded the township of Clynnog Fawr from the King
of Gwynedd and founded his church in the early 7th Century. The site
developed into a monastery of some importance and Welsh law manuscripts
say that the Abbot of Clynnog was entitled to a seat at the court of the king of
Gwynedd. The present church mostly dates from the late 15th-early 16th
Centuries. The west tower and detached chapel of St Beuno are probably
early 16th Century. Foundations of earlier buildings, including the original 

chapel of St. Beuno, have been discovered beneath and near the present 

chapel. It is likely that it is the site of the 7th Century monastery. A 

barrel-vaulted passageway in the current church leads to the 16th Century 
chapel that is believed to have been built on St. Beuno’s cell and possibly his 
grave. A stone known as Beuno’s Stone has markings reputed to be those of 
the saint’s fingers and has been dated to the 8th Century. The church was burnt 
by both the Vikings and later the Normans. In medieval times the church was an 
important stopping place for pilgrims heading for Bardsey Island, located south 
on the Llyn Peninsula, a tradition that has become popular again in recent years.

The information board reads, “Dogs used to be brought into the church during 
services and these tongs were used to catch rowdy animals and expel them 
from the building. It is believed to date from 1815.”

Choir stalls with misericords dating from the 1480s

The rood screen dates from 1531 and the pulpit from circa 1700. 

The early 16th. Century tower and Mrs MP (circa 1963) 
The chapel over St. Beuno’s cell and grave. Saint Beuno (died 640) was a 
Welsh holy man and Abbot of Clynnog Fawr in Gwynedd. His name may 
appear in English as Bono or in Latin as Bonus.  It comes from the Old Welsh, 
and derives ultimately from the Common Celtic, “Bou[o]-gnāw,” which means 
“Knowing Cattle.” Beuno was born in Powys, supposedly at Berriew, the
grandson of a prince of that realm. After education and ordination in the monastery
of Bangor-on-Dee in north-east Wales, he became an active missionary, Cadfan,
King of Gwynedd, being his generous benefactor. Cadwallon, Cadfan’s son, gave
Beuno some land that already belonged to somebody else and Beuno refused the
gift. Thereupon, Cadwallon’s cousin Gwyddaint, in reparation, “gave to God and
Beuno forever his township” of Clynnog Fawr in the Llŷn peninsula, where the
saint founded a famous abbey. Beuno became the guardian and restorer to life of
his niece, the virgin Saint Gwenffrewi (Winefride). Her suitor, Caradog, was
enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her. Her head rolled
downhill, and, where it stopped, a healing spring appeared. Beuno arrived on the
scene, picked up her severed head and rejoined it to her body. It is also related,
among other miracles, that when a certain man had lost his eyebrow by some hurt,
Saint Beuno healed it by applying the iron point of his staff: and that from this
circumstance a church four miles from Clynnog, perhaps built by the person so
healed, retains to this day the name of Llanael Hayarn, i.e. church of the iron brow.
His feast day is the 21st. April, the anniversary of the day of his death. However,
in the current Roman Catholic liturgical calendar for Wales, he is commemorated
on April 20, the 21st being designated for Saint Anselm.

In the churchyard there is a sundial dated as early as the late 10th Century.

A Fifteenth Century corridor joins the church to Beuno’s chapel

Row of cottages in Clynnog Fawr

Saint Beuno’s Well (the one at Clynnog Fawr)

St Beuno`s Well was the source of water for the monastic community at 
Clynnofg Fawr. St Beuno, the founder of the religious settlement, reputedly 
had miraculous powers and the spring became a famous healing well. 
Surrounded by a wall, it is open roofed with seats and steps that lead down to 
the well. After bathing, the sick were carried to St Beuno`s Chapel where they 
spent the night resting on top of the saint`s table tomb.
Bangor Cathedral is an ancient place of Christian worship. It is dedicated to its 
founder, Saint Deiniol. The site of the present building of Bangor Cathedral has
been in use as a place of Christian worship since the 6th century. The cathedral
is built on a low-lying and inconspicuous site, possibly so as not to attract the
attention of raiders from the sea. The site of Bangor Cathedral was originally 

occupied by St. Deiniol’s monastery, established in the 6th century around 

c.525 on land given by the king of Gwynedd, Maelgwn Gwynedd. Deiniol is 
was consecrated as a bishop by Saint David, making him the first Bishop of 
Bangor. This monastery was sacked in 634 and again in 1073. Nothing of the 
original building survives. The cathedral contains the “Mostyn Christ,” a figure 
of the Pensive Christ carved in oak and thought to date from the late 15th 
century, depicting Christ prior to the crucifixion, seated on a rock and wearing 
the crown of thorns. In the grounds of the cathedral, the “Biblical garden is 
planted with an example of every plant mentioned in the Bible.

The incredibly ugly, Bangor University
The Chapel of St Trillo stands just off Marine Drive, close to the promenade, at 
Rhos-On-Sea, some 2 miles north-west of Colwyn Bay. The tiny building 
stands in a quiet area beside the seashore in what has been a hallowed spot for 
many hundreds of years. The 6th century saint, Trillo, lived in a hermitage on 
this spot. The present chapel is a tiny, plain stone built roofed building measuring 
11 feet by 8 feet inside with walls that are 2 foot thick and low vaulting inside. 
It is open every day for prayer and an Anglican Eucharist is celebrated in the 
chapel every Wednesday.  
Saint Elian founded a church in North Wales around the year 450. The Parish 
of Llanelian is named after him. The Legend of St. Elian says he was related
to Ismael and labored in the missions of Cornwall, England. His feast day is
January 13. Tradition holds that he came by sea from Rome and landed in
Anglesey at Porth yr Yehen, where he built his church. One folk tale says 

he forbade the keeping of greyhounds after one killed or disturbed a doe in 

his care.

Prince Trillo was one of the saintly sons of Prince Ithel Hael (the Generous) 
and grandson of King Hoel I Mawr (the Great). He travelled to Gwynedd 
with fellow missionaries and founded at churches at Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, 
Llandrillo and Llandrygarn. He died in the late 6th century and was buried on 
Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island).
A holy well is located beneath the altar.  Even today the water from the well 
is used for baptisms in the town’s Anglican churches.
St. Trillo’s Chapel is so small that there is only room inside for six people and
the presiding minister. In fact, it is only slightly bigger than a Scottish 
Episcopal Church cathedral.
The Great Orme Tramway is a cable-hauled 3ft 6in gauge tramway in 
Llandudno, north Wales. It is Great Britain’s only remaining cable 
operated street tramway and one of just three surviving in the world. It takes 
passengers from Llandudno Victoria Station to just below the summit of the 
Great Orme headland. Operation of the tramway differs from the better-known 
San Francisco system in that it is not a cable car but rather a street running
funicular (similar to Lisbon’s Glória, Bica, and Lavra funiculars), where the
cars are permanently fixed to the cable, and are stopped and started by stopping
and starting the cable. As one car is ascending, the other is descending, and they
meet midway. The tramway was opened on two stages: the lower section on 31
July 1902 and the upper on 8 July 1903. The two sections operate independently,
with two cars on each section which are mechanically separate. Passengers must
change trams at the Halfway station. Which we did.
You can also ascend Great Orme Head on, what looks like, a somewhat 
flimsy cable car.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff without troll
Kashmir goat sculpture by Graham High at the summit station
The Great Orme Mines are possibly the most important copper mines of the 
Bronze Age yet discovered and excavated. Dating back four thousand years
 and abandoned around 600 BC, but with some evidence of Roman patronage, 
the mines were reopened in 1692 and continued to be worked until the end of 
the 19th century. It is possible that some of the copper from the mine was 
exported to Continental Europe, even in the Bronze Age. In addition to the 
three main mining areas, there are many open-cast bell pit mines along the lines 
of the main geological faults. In the 20th century the mines were once again 
reopened, and the Bronze Age mine workings are now a fee-paying attraction 
for the public to experience.
The Great Orme  is a prominent limestone headland on the north coast of Wales 
situated in Llandudno. Its English name derives from the Old Norse word for 
sea serpent, which it is said to resemble.
Just below the summit is the semicircular face of The Bishop’s Quarry (on land 
given to the Bishop of Bangor by King Edward I in 1284 – the church sold the 
land in 1891) and in which many ancient fossils have been found.
On the northern side of the Great Orme at Llandudno, nestling in a sheltered 
hollow, is the church of Saint Tudno with its churchyard and the adjacent town 
cemetery. This little church was built in the 12th century on a Christian site 
dating from the 6th century and dedicated to the memory of its founder Saint
Tudno. This ancient church has been heavily restored many times until nothing 
remains from Tudno’s day. The church, built and rebuilt over many centuries, 
achieved its final form in the 15th century. The roof blew off during a fierce 
gale in January 1839. A restoration appeal in 1855 enabled the roof to be 
repaired and the church returned to use. There is a remarkable medieval 
survival in the church, a carved wooden roof boss high above the chancel 
step depicting the ‘stigmata’ or five wounds of Christ. There is also an ancient 
beam with a carved serpent upon it forming a wall plate above the north 
window in the chancel.  .

Saint Tudno was one of the seven sons of King Seithenyn whose legendary 
kingdom in Cardigan Bay was submerged by tidal activity. Each son in 
reparation for their father’s neglect, studied in St. Dunawd’s college at Bangor 
Iscoed and went to an isolated part of Wales to preach the Christian faith to the 
people.  Later Tudno established the Church on Cyngreawdr (the great rock 
– the Great Orme). The Ogof Llech (a small cave on the headland, difficult to 
access, but with a clear spring of water) was Saint Tudno’s cell, from which 
he took the faith of Christ to the local people. The Feast of Saint Tudno is 
celebrated each year on 5th June. 
Thirteenth century stone coffin lids
The basin of this font dates back to the Twelfth Century
The outdoor pulpit. There are services held outside the church every Sunday
morning (inside if wet).
Fynnon Powell (Powell’s Well), a spring on the Great Orme is a water source 
that doesn’t seem to dry up, even in the driest weather. There is a story 
associated with the well, which tells of its mysterious formation. Many years 
ago, the Powell family lived in a dwelling close to where the well is now 
situated. One summer there was a severe drought on the Great Orme, not only 
did the animals suffer, but the Powell family suffered too. Due to some local 
dispute between the Powell’s and all of their neighbours, they were not 
allowed to go near any water sources on the Orme, or they would be killed. 
In desperation the family went to the nearby St. Tudno’s church to pray to God 
for his help. When they returned to their home afterwards, they found to their 
amazement and joy a bubbling spring close to their front door. The spring is 
named after the Powell family.
The tram leaving the summit with the MadGang on board
Delphi outside St. Tudno’s Church which is the only dog friendly church we

have come across so far in Wales. Most churchyards have “No Dogs” notices
on the gate. At Saint Tudno’s, not only do they have regular pet blessing
services, they also have water available for dogs to drink inside the church.
God bless them. They are true inheritors of the ancient Christianity of Wales.

Comments

MADPRIEST HAS A BIRTHDAY — 6 Comments

  1. Oh, these are great pictures! I’ve actually worshipped at the Cathedral in Bangor. It was Remembrance day and some Veterans and Scouts were there and entered with a Drum Corps as I remember. It was quite stirring! And St. Trillo’s was included in our stops(it was after all a Pilgrimage tour). I loved that place. There was actually water in the well.

    I’m sorry you didn’t get your special dinner, but you know you could do worse than a bacon sandwich! 😉

  2. This post is bueno! Well, at least, *Beuno*.

    ***

    “these tongs were used to catch rowdy animals and expel them”

    They’ll put the Fear-of-God into Delphi&Quiz, fer shur.

    ***

    the virgin Saint Gwenffrewi (Winefride). Her suitor, Caradog, was enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her. Her head rolled downhill, and, where it stopped, a healing spring appeared. Beuno arrived on the scene, picked up her severed head and rejoined it to her body.

    Mary’s Dowry Productions, a Popoid company, actually has filmed this (it’s appeared here, across the Pond, on the Popoid network EWTN). The Popoids are annoying, but this legend, and vid thereof, is amusingly awesome.

    ***

    “It’s sturdy walls of stone built low”

    Its grammar failing, to & fro

    ***

    Three Cheers for St Tudno’s! (Three tongue-laps for thirsty doggies)

    ***

    Hippo Birdie Two Ewe, Crazy @rse!

    [NB, re “the better-known San Francisco system in that it is not a cable car”: methinks y’all want to visit that “better-known system” in the City-By-The-Bay. Sitting besides the Bay just yesterday w/ the inestimable Counterlight, we discussed this possibility. MP, come visit us here Stateside, including Sodom-By-The-Sea! ;-)]

    • Church porches can be a much needed refuge for walkers, somewhere to sit down and eat your sandwiches, especially in bad weather. A bowl of water for the dogs left in the church porch is a kind gesture. But it does have to be kept fresh – replaced a couple of times a week if possible. Put a sign up nearby pointing out where your donation box is.