‘Loke here for Fonnon Dunoc. Dunokes Welle a mighty spring that maketh a brok renning scant a mile.'
John Leland, 'Itinerary in Wales' 1536-39
Ffynnon Dyfnog is a treasure, found by following a path through the woods that run beside the Church, following the route taken by the many pilgrims that sought divine intervention. The path has been landscaped, probably in the 19th century, and there are a number of small stone bridges to be crossed to reach the Well.
Tradition states that St Dyfnog lived at the site of the well during the 6th century, and was reputed to have sought repentance for his sins by standing within its waters wearing nothing but a hair shirt belted with an iron chain. Possibly due to its relative closeness to St Winefride’s Well at Holywell, Ffynnon Ddyfnog became hugely popular with pilgrims on their way to the, ‘Welsh Lourdes’, and there is a tradition which suggests the astonishing Jesse Window in the Church was financed by the donations of the pilgrims visiting the holy well. It was not long before the continued popularity of the Well led to the building of changing rooms for the convenience of those immersing themselves in the fast flowing waters to cure themselves of, as Edward Lhuyd says in 1698, ‘scabs, itches etc,’ while also suggesting that they may cure the pox. Later tradition also states that the holy waters of the Well cured dumbness and deafness.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, Ffynnon Dyfnog enjoyed salubrious surroundings, with even the suggestion of a marble lined pool and statues, but nothing of this now remains. The site of the Well resembles a grotto, with only the stone lined remains of the bathing pool and the forceful flow of the waterfall as evidence of its once huge importance. In truth, however, the lack of ostentation is a strength, for while the spring runs true and strong, it remains a place of serenity where thought is unaffected by the distraction of decoration. It feels holy.