Aberdaron – St Hywyn’s Church

History

   The parish church of St. Hywyn in Aberdaron dates back to the 12th century, but its beginnings date back to as much as the 5th-7th century AD. Its great importance resulted from the location near the harbor, from where ships sailed to the abbey on the island of Bardsey, which in the Middle Ages was a significant place of pilgrimage. To accommodate a large number of pilgrims, the church was enlarged in the 12th century, and the travelers were fed in the Great Kitchen (Y Gegin Fawr) next to the church. Another major expansion of St. Hywyn’s church took place at the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century, when the second nave was added. The fall of the temple began with the period of the Reformation; in 1841 the church was already in ruins and was abandoned. A new temple was built in the area, but it was so unpopular that in 1868 St. Hywyn’s church was renovated. Subsequent repair works were carried out in the 20th century.

Architecture

   Originally, in the 12th century, the church was a simple aisleless building on a rectangular plan. At the end of the Middle Ages, it had the shape of a two-aisle building on a rectangular plan, with no external chancel. The northern aisle was an old nave, extended in the fourteenth century to the east by two bays, and the southern aisle was added at the end of the fifteenth century. Both were of equal length and width. They were connected along the entire length by five slightly pointed, moulded arcades based on polygonal pillars. The main entrance was on the west side in a stepped, semicircular portal. The second entrance was located in the eastern part of the north wall, in the portal which was moved to this place in the fourteenth century, after the extension of the nave. The interior was covered with an open, collar beam roof truss.

Current state

   The church has retained its late-medieval form with the Romanesque west entrance portal, the walled-up northern portal and the 15th-century roof truss. From the original furnishings, a medieval stoup and baptismal font and two carved stones commemorating a pair of priests from the 5th or 6th century have been preserved. On the west side of the church, you can see the medieval Y Gegin Fawr building.

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bibliography:
Salter M., The old parish churches of North Wales, Malvern 1993.

Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website wikipedia.org, St Hywyn’s Church, Aberdaron.