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St Gwenog's Church, Llanwenog

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Map ReferenceSN44NE
Grid ReferenceSN4939145526
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCeredigion
Old CountyCardiganshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval

St Gwenog's Church, Llanwenog, is situated within a curvilinear churchyard, bounded by a road on its west side. The church was a parish church during the medieval period, belonging to the Deanery of Sub-Aeron. It was appropriated to Talley Abbey. Later the church was a posession of the Bishops of St Davids as a prebend of the collegiate church at Llanddewi Brefi. The parish had four dependent chapelries. A fair, Fair Wenog, was traditionally held around 3 or 11 January (sources differ). It was, reportedly, a local saying that 'after Wenog's Fair the days lengthen'. In 1903 nearby St Gwenog's well had, within living memory, been a place of pilgrimage. At sunrise its waters were used to bathe children whose backs were weak. The well also reportedly once contained trout which had golden chains or rings fitted around their necks, but the fish were said to have been destroyed during the Civil War (this practice was, apparently, not unusual during the medieval period and continued into the post-medieval period).

The church is a Grade I listed building because it is 'the most complete medieval church in Cardiganshire, with fine late C15 roof and tower.' It is constructed of rubble stone and consists of three-bayed nave and chancel, two-bayed south chapel, transeptal organ chamber (north of east bay) and four-storeyed west tower. The circular limestone font bowl, with moulded faces of the twelve apostles, is twelfth century in date. The nave and chancel may date from the fourteenth century. The chapel is thought to be fifteenth century. The tower was reportedly erected on the orders of Sir Rhys ap Thomas to commemorate the Battle of Bosworth (1485). In 1878 several frescoes were noted on the north wall, including the Apostles' Creed. The church was restored in the early twentieth century, to the designs of W.D. Caroe. The nave was partially refenestrated and openings were restored. The church was also refloored. Interior fittings are a mostly earlier twentieth century in date, including the altar, pulpit, and pews. 34 bench ends reflecting parish events were locally designed and carved. On 27 August 1933 an organ recital was held to help to raise funds for the St Margaret's Church, Glanaman (NPRN 12618) building fund. This was in response to a performance of the Welsh operetta, 'Dewis Brenhines', performed by the St Margaret's choir to help raise funds for the St Gwenog's Church restoration fund in March of the same year. A reconstructed Apostles' Creed was noted in 1972 but the others wall paintings were not present. There are also records of blackletter texts in Welsh, with ‘many other frescoes now gone’ and coat of arms, which are all lost.

'The glass in the west window was designed and fired at Highmead by Colonel Herbert Davies-Evans: central light shows St. Gwynog; side lights show the shields that are carved on the outside of the tower (the left on being the arms of Sir Rhys ap Thomas)' - from notes written by Arthur O. Chater

Source: Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800

Sources include:
Cadw, Listed Buildings Database
Cambria Archaeology, 2000, Ceredigion Churches, gazetteer, 48
Jones, F, 1992, The Holy Wells of Wales, P159

Source: Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800