Llangynwyd Church, Mid Glamorgan, South Wales

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| 2:  All Saints Church, Culmstock, Devon, UK |

3: St. Stephen's Chapel/St. Mary Undercroft, Westminster, London, UK |

4: St Giles Church, Imber Village, Wiltshire, UK |

5: Llangydwyd Church, Mid Glamorgan, South Wales |

6: St. Aldhelm's Chapel, Worth Matravers, Dorset, UK |

7: St. Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield, Derby, UK |

8: St Helen's Church, Bishopsgate, London, UK |

9 : St Elizabeth's Church, Stockport, Cheshire, UK 10 : Teampall Caomhain Inisheer, Galway, Ireland |

11: St. Peter's, Adelaide, Australia

The church of Saint Cynwyd is the parish church of Llangynwyd, a hilltop village in the Llynfi valley, Mid Glamorgan, South Wales. The Welsh word Llan usually translates as 'church', but in place names it refers to the parish. Many places in Wales take their names from the Saints in this way.

The church was founded in the 6th Century by Saint Cynwyd, a local saint. It is the only church in Wales that bears his name. Little remains of the original structure apart from a stone socket of a wooden cross which the founder set up in the church. The original structure was of rude stone, wattle, timber and mud. The socket which stood in the church and held a wooden cross is believed to be the original. It was found built into one of the walls during repairs in 1850. It is now fixed into the wall of the porch.

The church has been rebuilt and restored a number of times. First rebuilt in Norman times it was restored in the 13th Century. There was another rebuild in the 15th Century and the square tower dates from that time, as do four oaken pews inside the church. In the 17th Century the church was given a new roof and three windows were placed in the South wall. The last complete restoration was in 1893 at a cost of £3000 paid for by Miss Olive Talbot of Margam Castle. There was further restoration of the tower in 1931 and the beautiful east window depicting the ascension of Christ was put in at that time.

The Bells

There are six bells, dating originally from 1730, but two of them were recast in 1786. On October 14th 1980 a plaque was dedicated by the assistant Bishop of Llandaff to mark the 250th anniversary of the hanging of the bells.

Samuel Jones

One notable vicar was Samuel Jones, incumbent of the parish from 1647 to 1662. When episcopal rule was restored and the act of uniformity was passed in 1662 he gave up his incumbancy and retired to his farm of Brynllewarch. Here he established the first college in Wales for the education of young men for the Non-conformist ministry. His tombstone may be seen near the South wall of the church.

The Maid of Cefn Ydfa

A simple youthful lad am I

Who loves at fancy's pleasure:

I fondly watch the blooming wheat,

Another reaps the treasure.

- Tr. 'Watching the White Wheat'

The church also has the graves of Wil Hopkin1 and Anne Thomas (known as 'The Maid of Cefn Ydfa'), a local couple famed for an 18th Century romance.

Anne Thomas lived with her widowed mother in Cefn Ydfa mansion in Llangynwyd. She was heiress to the estate so her mother was determined that she should make a rich marriage. However, Anne had fallen in love with Wil Hopkin a tiler who had been repairing the roof. He was also an acomplished poet and, for Anne, he wrote the love song, 'Begeilio Gwenith Gwyn' which is still sung by Welsh choirs.

Anne and Wil met in secret, but the romance was eventually discovered by her mother. She imprisoned Anne in her room and forced her to agree to marriage with Anthony Maddocks, a rich and sucessful lawyer.

With stories such as 'Cefn Ydfa' it is sometimes difficult to seperate facts from legend, but legend has it that when Anne was imprisoned, her mother took away all writing equipment and Anne picked sycamore leaves from a tree outside her window. She cut her finger and wrote messages to Wil on the leaves, using her blood. She then dropped the leaves through the window to a maid who passed them on to him. Unfortunately, the maid was caught by Amnne's mother.

After the wedding, Wil left the village, and went to Bristol. The legend says that he drempt that Anne was calling to him and he returned home to find that she was on her deathbed. The family allowed him to see her and she died in his arms.

She was buried in the family grave in the chancel of the church. Wil Hopkin died 14 years later, and was buried in the church yard under a yew tree. The original gravestones are now in the tower. The parish register of 1725 containing the Marriage entry of Anne and Anthony Maddocks can be seen in the church.

There have been many poems written about the story. As they were often recited at Eisteddfodau (the Welsh poetry and music festivals) they are in the Welsh Language. Operas have been composed by Dr Joseph Parry and Dr Hayden Morris Ap Madoc wrote a libretto with music composed by JJ Mason of the USA, which was performed many times before Welsh communities there. In 1980, at the National Eiseddfod in Gowerton, a new play was performed by Cwmni Theatr Cymru at the Grand Theatre in Swansea, and 4000 tickets were sold in advance in Bangor, North Wales, for the company's production of a musical play by Rhisiart Arwel The White Wheat.

1The Welsh spelling is 'Hopcyn'.

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