Llanrhaeadr : The Jesse Window and a Holy Well

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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The intricately carved porch

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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]

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One of the little stone bridges and Rhaeadr (waterfall)

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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.

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The Llanrhaeadr Alms Houses

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Guarded by Mr (or Mrs) Pussy

 

 

Foel Fenlli on Foot

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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.

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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.

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

Meadow of the Rays of the Sun

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A Brief Glimpse of Chirk Castle Gardens

Chirk Castle Gardens are as lovely (even in March) as the Castle itself is interesting. As you can see there are lots of yew trees and hedges all clipped to within an inch of their lives. All the hedges and topiary are 130 years old – and it shows in places. They are almost entirely English yew (Taxus Baccata) and it takes garden staff 6 to 8 weeks to cut with electric shears. Interestingly, two tons of clippings are collected each year and these are processed to make a cancer treatment. In the past all clipping was done by hand but there were many more gardeners then. These days there are 3 gardeners plus a full time apprentice and a team of part time volunteers.

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Treasures and Tours at Chirk Castle

Arriving at Chirk Castle

Started in 1295, Chirk Castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Last Thursday was a glorious spring day and ideal for a visit to this beautiful location. There’s a longish approach to the Castle from the village of Chirk. You pass the wrought iron gates commissioned  by Sir Richard Myddleton and built between 1712 and 1719. They were originally at the Castle but moved to their present location in 1888.

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Walking a Fine Line : Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

On Saturday I did something that I had long hoped to do and that was to walk along the narrow path beside the Llangollen Canal over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. I first heard about this huge feat of Georgian construction (1795-1805) on a school Geography field trip to North Wales exactly 50 years ago. We were travelling from Norwich to Snowdonia and as we passed along the Dee Valley on the A5 through Llangollen Mr Powell told us about the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

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