Llandecwyn Church - February 2008
|Llandecwyn shown within Gwynedd|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Llandecwyn is a hamlet and former Church in Wales (Anglican) parish stretching from the estuary of the Afon Dwyryd at Pont Briwet to the hills of the Rhinogs in Gwynedd, Wales. The bulk of the population (between 40 and 50 houses) is now located around Cilfor close to the A496 and served by Llandecwyn railway station, with a cluster of under ten houses around the road junction at Capel Brontecwyn half a mile up the hill to the south-east, and other isolated houses and farms scattered across the hillsides. Formerly, there was a sizable population closer to the church and the lakes: Llyn Tecwyn Isaf and Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf. The church stands alone, three-quarters of a mile due east of Cilfor.
In former times, the parish included the Bryn Bwbach road from Capel Brontecwyn to Eisingrug, a section of the main A496 road between Llandecwyn and Talsarnau, and a section of the main A496 road between Llandecwyn and Maentwrog. It even included land across the Dwyryd river, the area of Cefn Coch and around Rhiw Goch and the road to Llanfrothen.
Today the former parish is part of the Bro Ardudwy ministry area, which includes Harlech, a few kilometres to the southwest, and Barmouth. The church of Saint Tecwyn lies at an altitude of a little over 150m, and is the only ancient church in Meirionnydd not on the coast (although the present building is actually Victorian). It is dedicated to Saint Tecwyn and boasts spectacular views over the large Dwyryd estuary and across to Portmerion. Although not regularly used, the church still holds several services each year. As part of the national Small Pilgrimage Places network, the church marks the end of the pilgrimage route, Saint Tecwyn's Way. This starts at the church of Llanfihangel-y-traethau to the southwest, which has a window depicting the saint coming ashore in his coracle.
In the past, Llandecwyn had other churches. There was Llenyrch Methodist Chapel, built in 1861 as a Sunday school, open until the 1920s and now a private house. There was also Brontecwyn Chapel (Weslyan Methodist), home of the Llandecwyn Revolt School. The chapel closed in the 1990s and is now a holiday rental cottage. Capel Bach, Brontecwyn, is now a woodstore for a larger house. Capel Newydd (Calvinistic Methodist) chapel, was just a few yards from Capel Bach, but is now a ruin.
The Wynn family of Maesyneuadd - land owners, Sheriffs of Merioneth, descended from the 13th Century Osbwrn Wyddel - 'Osborn the Irishman' - related to the Oakleys of Tan y Bwlch and the Vaughns of Cors y Gedol.
David Tecwyn Evans (1876 - 1957), Methodist preacher and hymn writer ('Duw a Thad yr holl genhedloedd'), was born at Aberdeunant Uchaf in the parish and attended a 'National School' based at the church.
Edmund Evans (1791 -1864), born at Aberdeunant, Wesleyan Preacher known as Utgorn Meirion (the clarion of Meirion).
Evan Evans (1731 -1788), bardic appellation Prydydd Hir ("The Tall Poet") or Ieuan Fardd ("Ieuan the Poet") scholar & poet ('Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Ancient Welsh Bards' etc) and cleric, curate at St. Tecwyn's for a year.
Ann Harriet Hughes (1852 -1910) (pen-name Gwyneth Vaughan) , author ('O Gorlannau'r Defaid', 'Plant y Gorthrwm' etc), born at Bryn-y-felin, Eisingrug and educated at Llandecwyn School.
Lewis Roberts (aka Eos Twrog) (1756 -1844), musician, well-known harpist and crwth player, considered the best singer in the land to the accompaniment of the harp
Llandecwyn Revolt School
Llandecwyn was the focus for a power struggle between the UK Government which was Conservative, and largely Anglican, and the local Meirionethshire county council which was largely Liberal and non-conformist. The 1902 Education Act forced local councils to pay for all schools, including church schools. The council was loathed to support the school at St Tecwyn's church, so tried to close it down. An government inquiry followed which decided that Llandecwyn didn't need a school at all. The council in response opened a school, the 'Revolt School', at Brontecwyn Chapel, which rapidly grew larger than the 'National School' at the church. In 1906, a Liberal landslide in the general election swept the Conservatives from power, the Revolt School was deemed a success, and the county was given permission to build a new council school at Llandecwyn.
Mary Evans (1735 - 1789), was a mystic and cult leader, known as 'y Fantell Wen' (Whitemantle).She was either a servant at Maentwrog rectory, or lived at Breichiau between Llys Tecwyn Uchaf and Ceunant Llennyrch. (Breichiau Copper Mine was located at NGR SH650386). She claimed to be betrothed to Christ, and led a group of followers in ceremonies on Manod Mawr and other hills. Her cult spread to Ffestiniog, Penmachno and Harlech. She died at Talsarnau despite having stated that she would never die, and was buried in Llanfihangel churchyard. Although her followers preserved scraps of her clothing as relics, the sect soon died out.
The impressive ring cairn of Bryn Cader Faner (SH648353) is one of several ancient sites in the hills within the parish:
Maes y Caerau - Ancient Village or Settlement (SH63503621)
Bryn-Melyn - Ancient Village or Settlement (SH62923569)
Y Gyrn - Cairn (SH641358)
Moel Geifr - Hut Circles, Ancient Village, or Settlement (SH644356)
Bryn Cader Faner - Hut Circles, Ancient Village or Settlement (SH64543517)
Llyn Eiddew - Ring Cairn (SH64603498)
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