Cwm is a village on the edge of maps. Which is to say, that its size and relative nearness to towns such as Rhuallt and St Asaph seem to have pushed it to the boundaries of maps focused on more sizeable settlements. However, it remains a fascinating place.
The church at Cwm appears in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as well as the Lincoln Taxation of 1291. The village is named as ‘Kwm’ in a document of 1284 and ‘Combe’ in 1608, which amounts to the same thing. The name ‘Cwm’ seems to have been fixed by 1795. It’s a name visitors to Snowdonia or GCSE Geography students will be familiar with, meaning, ‘bowl-shaped, steep-walled mountain basin’, but seems to better refer to Cwm’s position in a hollow surrounded by hills.
It is possible that the church was originally situated above the present day village in the hills, ‘hen Eglwys’. A local tradition is firm on the point. And certainly, as Edward Lhuyd tells, it was in the hills that the, ‘yellow bell of Cwm, the white bell of Abergele and the blue bell of Llanddulas’ were found. Now lost, these portable or handheld bells were much revered in the early Celtic Church, and were said to have miraculous powers. Some of the most beautiful workmanship was reserved for these sacred bells, and it is a terrible shame that they are no longer with us. The Church of St Mael and St Sulien was mistakenly thought to be dedicated to a St Valacinian, and is to be found on Ordnance Survey Maps of the 19th century. The church was long in a state of neglect, it seems, and was described in less than glowing terms by many visitors. Restored and refurbished now after a succession of works, it remains a curiosity, especially its sloping three level position. There are some 14th century sepulchral slabs. It is, however, in the churchyard that the true wonder of the hooded tomb resides.
A somewhat neglected holy well, dedicated to St Mael and St Sulien is to be found in the garden of the vicarage, with an outlet trough set into the boundary wall of the vicarage. It is not clear what benefits were to be gained from the waters, but given the many similarities between Cwm and Corwen (including a ‘gloch felen’), it would not be surprising to find that the well cured the same ailments of arthritis, rheumatism and sight complaints.