St Melyd's Church

St Melyd’s is a beautiful little church.  Written of in the Domesday Book, thus it has long been supposed that the foundations of the Church were pre-Conquest, a theory supported by the curvilinear churchyard.  That being said, the existing church can trace its foundation to the 13th century and a mention in the Norwich Taxation of 1254.  However, along with almost all churches, St Melyd’s underwent extensive restoration in 1884-5, which amongst other things created the south porch, and a rather wonderful lichgate adorned with the name of the Church.  By all accounts the renovation was much needed.  The church had been reported as, ‘small, miserable and dilapidated’ by the time that Arthur Baker of Kensington, London became involved.  Much of the interior was repaired, with most of the plasterwork removed, with creation of new windows in the north and west walls and the repair of the east window.

Yet, despite this extensive renovation, the heart of the Church remains 13th century, with the original doorways, and evidence of a 15th century extension to the east. Above the nave the roof would appear to be an arch braced 14th century affair, with early English doorways and a stunning font, of perhaps the 12th century, walled up for nearly 300 years and now happily restored beside the south door. Removal of the early 17th century plasterwork revealed 16th century wall decorations with Welsh text, but these were destroyed during the process.  One is left wondering just how much damage was done to churches during the Victorian renovations.  In the north wall of the Church is a blocked up doorway.  Tradition states that this door was once used to allow the devil to ‘creep out’, although the truth is just as interesting.  The north doorway was usually left open during infant baptisms to allow the sins of the child to escape.  After the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, the process of blocking up these doorways began.  Another blocked doorway can be found at St Cynfarch & St Mary in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd.

The churchyard is curvilinear, which suggests a pre-Norman foundation, and there are burials of all ages dating from the 18th century.  Most fascinating of all, however, is the remarkable discovery of a collection of bodies beneath the churchyard wall during renovations.  Given that the boundaries of the churchyard have changed little, if at all, it would seem that their burial beneath the wall was intentional.   The tradition is that these were the bodies of individuals that had sold their souls to the devil, and were buried beneath the churchyard wall in an effort to deny their souls to Y Gwr Drwg.

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