Llanrhaeadr : The Jesse Window and a Holy Well


Welcome to St Dyfnog’s

On our way back from Foel Fennli we stopped in the village of Llanrhaeadr, bypassed by the main road, to visit the church of St Dyfnog and its famous Jesse Stained Glass Window. The church gains 3 stars in the Jenkins Wales book. Apparently, the “rhaeadr” part of the name means waterfall.


The JesseWindow is dated 1533! Jenkins describes it thus :

For size and completeness it is a unique depiction of Christ’s biblical ancestors to survive from the Middle Ages, owing to its removal into hiding during the Civil War.


The window depicts Jesse lying at the bottom, customarily lying on his side and looking pleased with himself. The branches of the tree of his descendants swirl upwards past David [we are in Wales, of course], Solomon and other kings and prophets to Christ above.  …  The whole is set in a forest of leaves, a glorious tableau of colour.”


The intricately carved porch



Behind the church runs a small stream crossed by several stone bridges. A few hundred metres upstream is a holy well. Once, supposedly, paved with marble. “Situated in a copse near St. Dyfnog’s Church, with access via a gate in the churchyard, is the well of Saint Dyfnog, which is a rectangular stone bath, 18 inches deep, fed by a number of springs in the hillside. It is believed that Saint Dyfnog lived here during the 6th century, and did penance by standing in the well.” [From the church website]


One of the little stone bridges and Rhaeadr (waterfall)



St Dyfnog’s Well

St Dyfnog lived here in the 6th century doing penance by standing under the waterfall in a hair shirt belted with an iron chain. His virtues gave the water miraculous healing powers, reputedly capable of curing not only ‘scabs and the itch’ but also smallpox and even dumbness and deafness. By the late middle ages this spring was among the most renowned Welsh holy wells.


The Llanrhaeadr Alms Houses


Guarded by Mr (or Mrs) Pussy



Foel Fenlli on Foot


This walk covered points 1 to 7. We ended by walking back along the road to point 1.

On Wednesday we drove into the nearby Clwydian Hills to attempt a walk called “Foel Fenlli and Moel Famau”. Moel Famau is the highest point of this range of hills. It took us a while, with a couple of false turns, to find the narrow road through the range between Llanbedr-Dyffryn-Clwyd and Loggerheads and the Moel Famau Country Park car park starting point. The route begins along the road which on this sunny weekday was very quiet but I can imagine is pretty busy during summer at weekends.

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The Llangernyw Yew : The Oldest Tree in Wales and a Forgotten Poet

… And one of the oldest living things in the world! I don’t know why we don’t all know about this phenomenon. From The Pulpit Yew we drove on to the village of Llangernyw in order to find this ancient yew – more than 4,000 years old.

SJ Best in Wales.jpg

Saint Digain’s Church also features in Simon Jenkins’s best buildings in Wales book.

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The Pulpit Yew : Nantglyn, North Wales

Earlier this week I spent a few days in North Wales with two friends. We stayed in a lovely old Landmark Trust property, Dolbelydr, near Trefnant in Denbighshire.


Here’s an extract from the Landmark Trust website  about Dolbelydr :

Meadow of the Rays of the Sun

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Mariposa Sculpture Garden

The series of books (originally published in Germany but some titles now available in English) 111 places that one must see includes only the non-famous sights and places off the beaten track. One of the 111 places that we “must see” in Tenerife was the Mariposa Sculpture Garden up in the hills near Arona, about a 20 minute drive from Palm Mar.

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