The Grouped Parishes of Bwlch-y-Cibau and Llanfyllin with Llanwddyn
St Myllin’s Church, Llanfyllin
The Rev’d Hermione Morris
Tel: 01691 648306
The Rev’d Jonathan Skipper
The Town of Llanfyllin has a long and interesting history. It received town status in 1293 when with Welshpool they shared the distinction of being the only two Welsh boroughs to receive their charters from native Welsh rulers. In 1993, to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the granting of the charter, a large tapestry of the town’s interesting and historic buildings was created and can be viewed in St Myllin’s Church.
Today the town has a population of approximately 1,200 and services a large rural area with various shops, High School, and Leisure Centre. The community is very active with over 50 societies and activities.
Agriculture and light industry provide some work locally but many people have to commute further afield to work.
1st & 3rd Sundays in Month
2nd Sunday in Month
4th Sunday in month
5th Sunday in Month
Group Eucharist (at one of the churches in the Group)
Services are predominantly in the English language, although Welsh is included on occasion to include Welsh speakers.
The Rector regularly celebrates the Holy Eucharist at Llwyn Teg, the local home for the elderly.
The church is part of the Living Stones Heritage Trail and is unlocked during the week for those who wish to visit our beautiful church, and to find a quiet space for reflection and prayer.
Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals: please contact the Rector
A Flower Festival
in St Myllin’s
Saturday Coffee Mornings in the Vestry are enjoyable times for people to get together for coffee and a chat!
On the Second Tuesday in the month we are visited by the Chirk and Oswestry Christian Library who come laden with books and videos that can be borrowed. Users can browse and join us for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat in St Myllin’s Vestry between 2.30pm and 4pm.
St Myllin’s enjoys fulfilling ecumenical relationships with the chapels in town and ecumenical services are held for Bible Sunday, Christian Aid Sunday, Mayor’s Sunday etc. St Myllin’s participates in the work of the Bible Society and Christian Aid which have ecumenical committees.
The Bell Ringers meet on a Monday evening for their practice. The newly restored bells are rung for the main Sunday services and other special occasions.
St Myllin’s is the home of Llanfyllin Music Festival which stages various string quartet concerts during the year which attracts audiences from a very wide area. The excellent acoustic qualities of the church make it an ideal venue More details at www.llanfyllinfestival.org.uk
The church was founded in the 7th Century by the Irish Bishop Molling (Myllin) and the earliest references to a church in Llanfyllin appear in the Norwich Taxation of 1254.
The present building dates back to 1706, built in local brick in a simple preaching house style. In 1826 a schoolroom was added which now serves a vestry and meeting room. A major re-planning of the church interior took place in the 1850s. The church seats approximately 300 people, and is unusual in having no central aisle.
Tradition holds that it was St Moling, an aristocratic Irish monk born in 614 who established a monastery at St Mullin’s in County Carlow and perhaps became Bishop of Ferns in County Wexford, South of Dublin. Moling became famous in the early Irish church, and while there is no explicit mention of him crossing the Irish Sea, it is quite possible that one of his followers or perhaps a group of them came to Wales and established a Christian community in his name which in time became Myllin. Moling’s well Ffynnon Myllin on Coed Llan where converts were reputedly baptised, gave rise to the legend that his name derived from his being lsquo;sant mewn llyn’ the saint in the water. Tradition holds that Myllin baptised by total immersion.
The church buildings that have born his name are unique in their dedication in the British Isles. and perhaps under this church on this historic mound lie the remains of the Irish monk Moling.
So in this anniversary year we rejoice in the life of the saint who initiated the faith in this place. As his medieval biographer wrote:
’He was a poet, a prophet, a knower, a teacher. He was a sage, a psalmist, a priest, a bishop, a soul-friend, a noble. Nobly and honourably he went unto the angelic resting-place on the 17th of June 696, with choiring of the household of heaven and with prayer of the household of earth, after fasting, almsgiving and prayer and fulfilment of every good thing, in the eighty-second year of his age.’
Llanfyllin gradually grew and in about 1294 received its first Charter, an immensely important moment in the history of Llanfyllin offering the community freedom and independence in many aspects of life and the church continued to grow and consolidate.
On the old mound above the River Cain would have stood a small stone church divided into nave and chancel. Here the descendents of Myllin worshipped, eventually enlarging the church and adding a wooden bell turret in the late 15th or early 16th century. On entering through its west door one would have experienced a dark church, thick with the smell of incense and the murmur of the Latin mass. Candles, statues, sacred paintings and shrines were the order of the day.
After the Reformation Llanfyllin had many notable Rectors, including Dr William Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh. He held the living of Llanfyllin alongside the richer living of Llanrhaeadr YM where most of the work of translation was undertaken.
The arrival of John Edwards as Rector of his native town in 1691 heralded an era when even more radical changes were to take place. The Rector along with the churchwardens decided to completely demolish the old church and build a large new one to a strict classical design, built largely with brick suitable for the evr growing town.
The new church was more than twice the size of the one it replaced and exhibited classic simplicity, light and airy; a Wren style hall-church with a tower at the west end. The simple plaster interior with windows of ‘Crown’ bluish glass and its high pulpit in the middle of the north wall all emphasised simplicity in worship with the central importance of preaching reflected the religious spirit of the age. This brick church would certainly have stood out in a town of timber, wattle and daub buildings.
Sadly, Rector John Edwards died in 1711 never to see the church fully completed. He never survived to hear the peal of six bells that were cast in 1714 or look down from the gallery installed in 1720. His vision in building the church certainly left a lasting memorial for generations to come.
This unusual building has stood now for three hundred years amidst all the challenges of life:
When Rector Robert Williams St Myllin’s was to receive the full force of his High Church inclinations. He hated the church he inherited regarding it ‘as plain and unattractive as it is possible to conceive a building to be’. With typical Victorian energy he set about his vision:
Pews were removed to give the altar greater prominence
The arches with capitals of fern in honour of Myllin were incorporated to create a chancel
Daylight was to stream through elaborate stained glass windows
Walls were emblazoned with illuminated texts and symbols and elaborate tiling installed
In 1854 the organ was introduced.
The cost was immense but Robert Williams received support from the large estates of Llwyn and Bodfach, and he could not have transformed the church more.
The church in which we worship now still bears the marks of the Robert Williams church, although the austere oak panelling installed in 1959 from the old Rectory and the removal of the wall decoration returned the church to rather more of a compromise with its original simplicity.
Until about 1820, the Chancellor of the diocese of St. Asaph used this space under the gallery for the Consistory Court that mostly dealt with what were considered moral matters. Part of the Court furniture stands against the West Wall.
The Charter Tapestry (1993) celebrates Llanfyllin’s 700 years as a town and records some of its most notable buildings.
The second and third benefaction boards on the front of the (1720) gallery show how the money (about £1225) was raised for building the church. Most of the money came from a Royal Brief – the charity appeals of the time – which was sent all over Wales and England. The donations of the local gentry generally matched their social status. The fourth and fifth panels record the large sums given by Mary Vaughan and her daughter Mary Strangeways for building Church Schools in Llanfyllin and nearby Llanfihangel. The curriculum was narrow: ‘the Boys to be taught to read, write & Arithmetick; the Girls to read, knit & work plain work’ but it was the first opportunity in the town for poor children to receive an education.
The stained-glass windows were mostly provided by the Dugdales and the Lomaxes: two local squires who paid for most of the new work. The windows behind the altar (by Clutterbuck 1857) contain the lines from The Litany that outline the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Those to the right show St. John (by Smith & Taylor 1859) and the Espousal of St. Anne and Joachim – the parents of the Virgin Mary – (by A lexander Gibbs 1869). To the left is Christ Blessing the Children (by Heaton, Butler & Bayne 1903). The other windows are later: the St. Myllin window (2002) and that opposite the organ (1966/7).
The Nave Altar has interesting twisted legs, which are carved out of a single block of wood. It was provided by the Churchwardens in 1744.
The oldest Parish Register dates from 1654.
The Six bells, which are still rung each week, were founded by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, and were in place by 1714 - the year Queen Anne died. Ironically, one of the bells is inscribed "God preserve the Church and Queen".
The first clock was installed in the tower in 1714 and was connected to a weight-driven carrillon which played a hymn tune every four hours. A new clock was installed in 1864 and the clock was electrified in 1988.
Follow the path beyond the church door. The blocked up Priest’s Door formerly had the inscription SOLI DEO GLORIA (‘To God alone be glory’).
At the top of the steps is the headstone of Cathrine Edwards and a coded ‘Conceit’ inscription recording the memory of her six year old daughter. The symbols used are from a Grecian alphabet of the first millennium. Though supposedly employed by white witches, this was probably the personal recording of a private grief. Just beyond the steps leading down into the churchyard is the railed tomb of Rector William Williams and his great-grandson William Augeraud. Lieutenant Pierre Augeraud was a Napoleonic prisoner of war who painted a series of romantic landscape murals in the ‘Council House’ opposite the lych gate and was returned to France to end his relationship with Mary Williams, the rector’s daughter. When the war ended, Augeraud returned and the two were married.
The churchyard was largely cleared of memorials in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. Among those cleared was the grave (1834) of Samuel Austin, aged 38, an artist from the great age of British watercolour painting. The surviving stones have mostly been placed around the lower churchyard wall and provide a sad reminder of former rates of child mortality.
If you would like to know more about the church and the town of Llanfyllin, then you might like to read the booklet ST. MYLLIN’S AND ITS TOWN. Here you will find the stories behind many of the things noted in this brief guide and much else. Rectors like 16th century Gruffydd Lloyd and his ‘hearth-mate’; 18th century Thomas Richards, battling with a drunken schoolmaster; High Church Victorian Robert Williams in conflict with the local chapels. The significance of pew ownership; the workings of a Royal Brief; how much the churchwardens would pay for a dead hedgehog; why the bellringers drank so much in 1717; what colour were the French lieutenant’s eyes….
The booklet is available inside the church.
Last updated 24th June 2015.