Bodfari is a pretty little village, at the foot of rising ground upon which Moel y Gaer hillfort rests, overlooking the village and the lands about. The River Wheeler (Afon Chwier) runs through it, joining the River Clwyd to the south west at Pontryffydd.
Small finds of Bronze and Roman artefacts show possible settlement in the area, while the first definitive evidence for settlement would of course be the existence of Moel y Gaer hillfort. Bodfari appears into the written record with the Domesday Book of 1086, in which the village is named, ‘Boteuuarul’ with 2 villagers, 2 smallholders, 2 slaves and a priest. The manor of ‘Batavari’ was given to St Werburgh’s in Chester some six years later. In 1254 the Norwich Taxation names the village, ‘Bottewaru’ and in the Lincoln Taxation of 1291 as ‘Botevarro’. The modern name of the village is not recorded until 1839. The meaning of Bodfari is difficult to ascertain, but probably refers to the home of an individual, possibly translating to, ‘the home (abode) of revered Barre.’
The Domesday Book mentions the presence of a Church, as well as a priest and so we can safely assume that a religious site in the this little village is of pre-conquest foundation. Traditionally linked with the rather obscure St. Deifer, mentioned in, ‘The Life of St Wenefride’ and possibly the brother of St Marcella and Tyrnog, he was designated an abbot, which would of course suggest that the religious institution at Bodfari was of some considerable importance. The site of Ffynnon Diefer, supposedly used by the Saint to cure all manner of ills is debated and is discussed elsewhere.
Around St Stephen’s Church are a smattering of 17th and 18th Century buildings. The church itself is noted for its medieval tower and perpendicular bell chamber openings, the rest rebuilt in 1865. The churchyard has memorials dating back to the 17th Century. The church itself is a good place to begin your tour of the village at the foot of the Clwydian Hills.