Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Serenity, I could think of so many places in North Wales where I have felt serene. Talacre Beach on a cold winters day, Cwm Idwal, Llyn Cowlyd, the Denbigh Moors. Even Dinorwic Quarry seems so serene now despite it’s industrial past, when it must have been a height of activity. All have their own unique points but one place that has always struck me with it’s simplicity and serenity is Llangelynin Church which I’ve visited more than once.

Weekly Photo Challenge Serenity

Situated high in the hills above the Conwy Valley and the village of Henryd, at 900 feet, Llangelynin is considered to be one of the most remotest churches in Wales (53.2458°N 3.8730°W). I have visited Llangelynin several times over the years and it never ceases to amaze me how quiet it is there. Standing on the hill to the side of the church and looking out over the valley you feel as though you are alone in the world, that is, apart from the sheep, birds and maybe the odd hill walker who happens to be passing by. But it is quiet most of the time and the views are magnificent.

The very secret of life for me…was to maintain in the midst of rushing events an inner tranquillity. I had picked a life that dealt with excitement, tragedy, mass calamities, human triumphs and suffering. To throw my whole self into recording and attempting to understand these things, I needed an inner serenity as a kind of balance. – Margaret Bourke-White

Inside Llangelynin you will find a simple church. Stone floors, wooden pews, a small wooden table for an altar and plain leaded glass windows. Some imitation flowers provide a splash of colour but the simplicity of the church remains. Sit down in one of the wooden pews, take a moment and enjoy the peace.

Llangelynin Church Interior

Although Llangelynin is quite simple inside writing on the wall in front of you shows the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, in Welsh. The inscription “Fear God and honour the King”, together with scrollwork, can clearly be seen today, as can a skull and cross-bones. Whilst I was researching Llangelynin using Wikipedia I discovered that the writings were covered by a whitewashed wall so it must have taken some skill to reveal them without too much damage.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip to Llangelynin with me. It is relatively easy to get to by car but you need to park about 100 metres away and walk up a farm track

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Llangelynin is not the easiest building to find if driving by car but it’s well worth the visit. The signposts to the church could be better and the first time I visited I got lost in the narrow single track lanes leading from Henryd so I’ve included a map for anyone considering driving to the church. Winter may not be the ideal time as the road is narrow and steep. For the walkers, apparently the church is not named on an Ordnance Survey Map but you can find it at reference SH751737 or (53.2458°N 3.8730°W). Services aren’t held in the church that often, usually summer and special occasions so it’s open to visitors most of the time.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

Endurance is a subject dear to my heart especially after the amount of time I have spent in cold and draughty churches, sometimes working in cramped conditions, to get photographs for the Sacred Doorways project. But it also amazes me how these old churches have endured through the ages. So let me tell you about a church called Saint Asaph and Saint Cyndeyrn which is located in Llanasa, one of the most picturesque villages in rural Flintshire. It is thought that a church was established on this site as early as the 6th century but the first written records of this church appear in the 13th century and the present building dates largely from the 15th century. Various alterations have been carried out over the years, including the resetting of ancient stained glass which reputedly came from Basingwerk Abbey, and for which the church is now famed.

Window-and-Choir

The figures depicted are St James, St Lawrence, an unknown bishop and a woman described as St Katherine. How did the window get here? Following the dissolution of Basingwerk Abbey in 1540 the window is thought to have been brought to Llanasa by a local man, Henry ap Hari. That’s quite feasible because Basingwerk Abbey lies about 7 miles from Llanasa and Monastic Wales list Henry ap Harry of Llanasa along with Peter Mutton of Meliden as being owners of the abbey in 1540.