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St Mor's Church, Llanfor

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Map ReferenceSH93NW
Grid ReferenceSH9382736701
Unitary (Local) AuthorityGwynedd
Old CountyMerioneth
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval

St Deiniol's Church, Llanfor, is referred to as St Mor's on historic (1889-1901) Ordnance Survey mapping. The church has a sixth century inscribed stone built into its tower. Its inscription has been translated as 'Cavo[s, son] of seiargios, [lies here]'. Llanfor was historically known as Llanfawr, and the name suggests a significant ecclesiastical centre. The proximity of the extensive Roman remains of Llanfor Roman Military Complex (NPRN 95489) show that this locality has long been significant in terms of settlement. A medieval ringwork, Pen-ucha'r-llan earthwork (NPRN 303428) dominates the northern end of Llanfor. It overlooks the church from an elevated position some 70m north. The two may have been contemporary and have constituted elements of the same settlement. A well, reputedly known as Ffynnon Deiniol;St Deiniol's well (NPRN 32374), is situated some 30m to the north-east of the churchyard boundary, and its waters are said to have flowed into the churchyard. The hill, Bryn-pader (NPRN 43828), now the name of a farm, is some 1km to the north-east of the church. It is reputedly the point at which travellers first saw the church and repeated their Pater Noster. A second earthwork, Tomen-y-castell, is situated 160m east of Bryn-pader. Historic Ordnance Survey mapping depicts a footpath running south-west, past Bryn-pader, eventually reaching Ffynnon Deiniol and running around the north-west churchyard boundary, where it joins the present road. It is possible that this was a historic route connecting the sites. The first documentary reference to the church was in 1254. It was again mentioned in 1291, when Llawr-y-bettws (NPRN 43850) was noted to be an outlying chapelry of Llanfor parish. The churchyard may have originally been curvilinear, as indicated by its curved north and west boundaries. The main entrance is through a lychgate in the south boundary. In 1884 a mausoleum was built in the north half of the churchyard. A hearse house belonging to the church is situated immediately outside the churchyard boundary.

The earlier church building consisted of a continuous nave and chancel, west tower, north chapel and south porch. A round arch was noted between the tower and nave, indicating a twelfth century date. The fact that the church had a twelfth century tower is indicative of its high status at that time. In 1913 the earlier octagonal font was noted in the rectory garden. A date stone of 1599, re-set in the tower, attributes the construction of the north chapel to Cadwalader Prys ap Robert of Rhiwlas Hall, Bala (NPRN 28709). The north chapel was repaired in 1755. The foundations of the north chapel and south porch remain in the churchyard adjacent to the present building.

The present church is a Grade II listed building, erected in 1875, on the footprint of the earlier one. It is constructed of rubble stone with sandstone dressings, which incorporates re-used Roman brick and tile from Llanfor Roman Military Complex. The building consists of a continuous nave and chancel with tall west tower and north-east vestry. The modern chancel screen incorporates portions of rood screen thought to date to around 1500. The church building closed in 1992 and is currently for sale, along with its lychgate and hearse house, although the churchyard is not included.

A Royal Arms were recorded and texts with Moses and Aaron on four canvases depicting biblical scenes were noted in 1729 hanging above a benefactions table. These are now lost.

Sources include:
Beverley Smith, J, Beverley Smith, Ll, 2001, History of Merioneth II, 356-357
Cadw Listed Buildings Database
Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, 2000, Historic churches ofGwynedd: gazetteer, 392
Ordnance Survey, 1899, first edition 25inch
Ordnance Survey, 1901, second edition 25inch
Richard Suggett, Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800, (RCAHMW 2021), pp. 47, 230.