St. Cynllo's Church

Llangunllo, Powys, Wales, United Kingdom

St. Cynllo's Church
 
St. Cynllos Church Exterior View

The Vicar, Churchwardens and Church Committee hope that you will find this a place of Prayer, Peace and Tranquility.

About St. Cynllo's

There are aspects of this Church, in the very fabric of the building, which are intriguing.

The approach from the crossroads in the centre of the village demands climbing up the steep hill past "The Greyhound" and keeping a sharp lookout for a Welsh Dragon in the shape of a privet hedge on your right. On reaching another less modern crossroad turn left past the former school (which bears the inscription "By the munificence of the Vicar, landowners and others, this school was erected in A.D. 1862"), and go through the gates into the Churchyard.

Tombstones on the left bear names which will be familiar to residents today, and others tell of once prominent families in the parish.

Here stands a fine, rather elegant tower with windows glazed in diamond panes and up higher, wooden louvres suggest the presence of bells. The crenellations at the top appear to suggest "Border strife", but are really a Victorian decorative feature. It was built at the end of the 19th century, replacing an earlier tower.

Enter the Church through the porch, erected, so the inscription relates, in 1896 by Jane Weyman to the Glory of God and in memory of her brother, John Weyman J.P. who died in 1895 and was Vicar’s Churchwarden in the Parish for upwards of 30 years. There is an opportunity to rest on the benches here and read the Parish Notices. Open the massive door, with its intricate metal banding, and step inside...

Here you will discover a surprisingly spacious, well-appointed, not-quite-as-Victorian-as expected church.

This is undoubtedly a special place of Christian worship manifest in stone. It was the inspiration of John Middleton, a provincial architect of Yorkshire origins, commissioned to rebuild the nave and chancel 1n 1878. The chancel arch, and those of the north transept, taken together with the shape and finish of the window embrasures, all harmonise and draw the eye to the altar and stained glass of the east window.

Decoration throughout is restrained, but attention to detail is not forgotten. At the west end the floor has a sweep of encaustic tiles. Here is the font, with a charming pink marble waistline and a quaint wooden cover which is foreign both in style and period to everything else in the building.

Although the Church is supposedly 19th century "Early English", the execution of the sandstone has a more modern appearance. The excellence of the quality of workmanship in the window embrasures is striking. All was rebuilt on a medieval wall footing which can be traced, in places, outside the building. There is no apparent logic to the positioning of the windows in the nave and the set is only disturbed by one curious exception in style in the north wall. Here, halfway along is a strange little embrasure with steps on two levels leading to a narrow light with a rounded top dating from the 13th century. The incongruity is heightened by the addition here of a plaster of paris statuette of the Blessed Virgin which looks as if it might have come from a visit to Lourdes, or at least Walsingham, sometime in the last century.

Look upwards, and see an excellent roof of dark beams, trusses etc., with a most dramatic contrast provided by the white plaster in-fill. The etymology of "nave" suggesting it being like a ship seems very plausible here.

St. Cynllos Church Interior View

Move on past the brass lectern which was given "In memory of the late Revd D Davies and his wife Mrs S M Davies" in 1878. It stands on three birdlike feet, and looks like it might hop off at any moment.

Now take a look at the Bible which is a fine New International Version with nicely laid out typography to assist in reading aloud.

Step up to the Chancel. Here the encaustic tiles have a more elaborate pattern with alternating roses and fleur-de-lis worked into the geometric design. Up above, the ceiling is timberclad behind the beams and trusses. The pews are set out in collegiate formation.

Another step leads through the communion rail into the sanctuary. Here the tiles, which had lifted from the floor and broken, were relaid by the Heritage Tile Company in 2002. Some had to be specially made to complete the work.

The altar has been moved away from the wall to allow the priest to conduct the liturgy without turning his back on the congregation. Behind the altar the stained glass window must be considered the crown-jewel of the church. In three lights, the centre illustrates the Crucifxion and is inscribed "Mother behold the son". On the left window is the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with oil. The right hand counterpart shows a scene entitled "suffer little children to come unto me". This is particularly poignant since the window was given in memory of John Weyman who died in 1883 at the age of three.

The sanctuary is complete with sedilia, a piscina for washing the sacred vessels and the aumbry in which to store them.

There is only one memorial tablet in the chancel and it is a work of art in its own right. The elegant layout of the lettering and heraldic shield commemorates John Thomas Jackson of Treburvaugh born 1841 and died 1925. He was High Sheriff of the County in 1902. All the other inscriptions were moved to the west end of the church during the rebuild. They are worth examining, since they too are not quite all they appear to be. Instead of expensive marble they are painted wood – but skilfully done. Some of the pavement slabs which once adorned the chancel are now used on the floor of the tower which is used as the vestry. The doorway is through a fifteenth century arch which may have been the entry to an earlier church. The belfry has four bells: the oldest, inscribed "Give thankes to God" is dated 1614. Sadly, only one bell is "donged" before a service now.