Clynnog Fawr – St Beuno’s Church


   The church in Clynnog Fawr was built in the English Perpendicular Gothic style in the years 1480-1486, and at the beginning of the sixteenth century it was enlarged, including the tower and the sacristy. The previous temple that was in this place was burned by the Vikings, and the next destroyed by the Normans. The new church at the end of the fifteenth century received the dignity of collegiate, as one of only six in Wales. It was an important stop for pilgrims heading to the island of Bardsey. The building has been repeatedly restored at various times, including, among others, in the years 1848-1856, 1913, 1924, 1926 and 1940.


   The church from the end of the 15th century consisted of a nave, rectangular in plan, two short transept arms and a four-sided chancel of the same width as the nave. The chancel and the nave were opened to the transept with pointed arcades, but the transept arms themselves hadn’t arcades at the crossing. In the corner between the chancel and the southern transept there was a spiral staircase leading to the attic.
   At the beginning of the 16th century, on the west side of the nave, a four-sided tower was erected with large, Gothic windows with tracery on the top floor and topped with a decorative battlement. Decorative battlement was also placed on the walls along the entire length of the nave, chancel and transept, and the corners of the building were topped with pinnacles. On the north side, a two-story annex with a porch in the ground floor and a room on the first floor was added to the nave in the 16th century. The second annex of a similar size, housing the sacristy, was located on the northern side of the chancel, and on the southern side of the tower, a free-standing, rectangular chapel was erected a few meters away

Current state

   St. Beuno today belongs to one of the most impressive late-medieval parish churches in North Wales, moreover, not distorted by any major early modern transformations. Inside the chancel, there are stalls from around 1500 and a medieval wooden chest carved from a single piece of ash, used to collect donations from pilgrims. In the church cemetery there is a sundial from the end of the 10th century, the beginning of the 12th century. The church is connected by an early modern passage with a 16th-century chapel located nearby, which according to tradition is on the site of an early medieval hermitage of St. Beuno.

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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, St Beuno’s Church.
Website, Clynnog Fawr.