Church of St Mael & St Sulien

The Church is of the 12th Century, but its origins, which may have begun on the hill above, are much older.  The nearby Ffynnon Sulien might have suggested its setting.  St Mael and St Sulien were Celtic missionaries possibly from Cornwall, whose work may have led them to Wales in the company of St Cadfan in the 6th Century.  This remains much debatable, however.

 

The Church itself is a pretty affair, a single chambered place of worship in a rectangular churchyard.  It is approached through a rather wonderful lychgate off the main road.  Its real beauty lies in the churchyard itself, and in its interesting exterior.

 

The remains of an intriguing standing stone has been incorporated into the exterior of the entrance porch, though its origins have been lost.  On the exterior of the south side of the church, viewed with some difficulty through the bars protecting the Church’s heating system, is a curious cross cut into the stone of the lintel, possibly 7th Century, perhaps later.  Originally it was above the Church door.  Folklore suggests it was the mark of a dagger thrown in a rage by Glyndwr himself from Pen-y-pigyn which overlooks the Church.

 

There is a hugely impressive cross shaft by the bell tower of perhaps 10th Century origin, used as a preaching cross in later times.  There are curious markings on the cross, possibly runes and a much clearer cross on another.  Much like Eliseg’s Pillar, the cross itself which would have sat atop the shaft has long since been lost.  It sits in a stone base with cup marks which may be prehistoric in nature, although this is obviously debatable.  If so, it shows how the peoples of the past were inclined to incorporate the ways of their ancestors in interpreting and following their own beliefs.  I personally find this reassuring.

There are several later items of interest.  Kneeling stones are evident on the left as you enter the churchyard through the lychgate, upon which people would have prayed for the departed.  They are very rare, and almost entirely synonymous with this part of Wales.  Beneath a yew tree, not far from the cross shaft is the idiosyncratic grave of a locomotive driver, with the fantastic name of Owen Owen. There are also the graves of two young men killed during the First World War in the churchyard.

 

Behind the Church is Coleg y Croes, built in 1709 as an almshouse for the widows of clerks in holy orders.  It is still in use today as a retreat and is a Grade II listed building.

 

The Church is off the main high street, opposite the shops and next to the hotel.  It is accessible all year round.

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Dedicated to providing an insight into the wonders of North East Wales, both its history and its folklore.

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