Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Church of St. Gwyddelan  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
In the centre of the village, set back slightly within a low rubble-walled churchyard and surrounded by mature trees.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

Parish church built around 1500 by Meredith ap Ieuan ap Robert of Dolwyddelan Castle, Penamnen and Gwydir; formerly a possession of the priory of Beddgelert. It replaced an earlier church, of Celtic origin, located on a hill called Bryn y Bedd some 300m to the W. The church was relocated to its present site, according to the builder's great-grandson, Sir John Wynn, for strategic purposes, the original being located 'in a thicket' and consequently vulnerable to attack from Meredith's enemies. The new church was 'built in a plain, stronger and greater than it was before'. Sir John mentions the date 1512 in the stained glass of the E window (now fragmentory), but suggests that the window might have been glazed 'long after the building of the church'. A mid C19 reference states that 'Meredyth (sic) built the church at his own expense about the year 1500. Twelve years after the church was built a glass window was put in....' A South chapel was added, probably in the 1570s or 80s, by Robert Wynn of Plas Mawr, Conwy, at which time a mural monument to the Wynn family was erected on the N wall; some minor internal changes were also made in the early C18. The church was sparingly restored c1840 by Lord Willoughby de Eresby of Gwydir Castle, who provided the porch and bellcote and converted the original S door into a window.  

Stone church of large, roughly coursed and dressed blocks with roof of thick, rough-graded slates, a quantity of which were allegedly re-used from Meredith's house Penamnen; overlapping copings to kneelered gable parapets. The primary section is a rectangular block consisting of a continuous nave and chancel; later C16 S chapel towards E end. Tudor-arched, chamfered N entrance with studded and ribbed oak door (lozenge bracing to rear). This is contained within a C19 single-storey gabled porch addition, with overlapping parapet copings and gable cross. Pointed-arched outer entrance, chamfered and with moulded label and simple stops; boarded outer doors. Original flat-headed rectangular window to far L of porch, with original wrought iron grille. Large chamfered Tudor-arched E window with original heavy grille, as before; further flat-headed windows to E and S walls of S chapel. Paired C19 pointed lancets occupy the position of the former S door; shared label, chamfered jambs. Similar, single window to W wall, with contemporary gabled bellcote surmounting gable; arched bell opening.  

5-bay roof to continuous nave and chancel, the first four of which are of arched-braced collar truss type; stopped chamfered purlins and two tiers of cusped, chamfered windbraces. The easternmost bay, over the altar, is a waggon vault and has wooden boarding with ribs and carved bosses in a conjoined lozenge arrangement. The N wallplate bears a primary relief carving of a dragon; this has an extra head at the tail end, is winged and has a knotted tail. Slate floor and rough plastered walls. Positioned within bay three, the primary rood screen, moved westwards probably at the time of the addition of the S chapel. Perpendicular style with wide central Tudor arch, with carved 'bent feather' spandrels. 3 flanking lights to each side, with panelled dado and pierced tracery heads; the northern-most formerly had an iron grille, suggesting original use as a confessional. The rood canopies are lost but are inferred from mortising evidence; instead, the rood beam is surmounted by an early C18 balustrade with flat, S-shaped balusters and a 'candle-beam' rail with 14 candle sconces. This probably originated as a W end gallery and was relocated during the C19. E of the screen are 4 primitive fixed benches on each side of the central aisle; S-baluster backs, as before, and again of early C18 date; one is inscribed: 'Maingc i'r dyla i clyw,' ('a bench for the hard of hearing'). Contemporary turned communion rails and reading desk with fluted corner posts and carved finials. Panelled rectangular pulpit bearing the date 1711, together with churchwarden's initials WP, RM, RI. On the N wall of the chancel is the late C16 Wynn memorial, commemorating the first three heads of the Wynn family and their wives. This is a 3-section classical wall monument with cylindrical pilasters supported on fluted corbels with cherub and acanthus capitals; inscription tablets (some now blank) and heraldic shields. The monument has residual polychromy, restored (inaccurately) early C20. In a case mounted on the N wall are three brasses from Meredith ap Ieuan's former tomb (d.1525). These consist of a kneeling figure of the donor in full plate armour, a shield with his coat of arms and a latin inscription in Gothic lettering; the figures of Alice, his wife and his children, presumably part of the original group, have not survived. Square gritstone font with chamfered sides, on modern base. The E window retains a large quantity of original glass (1512), with some figurative elements, although these are not clearly identifiable; in the NE window is a square quarry with a finely-executed St. Christopher in grisaille, again original. The S chapel is entered from the chancel via an arcade of two bays with round-headed arches. Central slatestone Tuscan column with marked entasis; moulded capital with square abacus and stepped, square base. 2-bay roof with central arch-braced, chamfered collar truss and two tiers of windbraces. Early C18 fixed pews, as before, and at the NW corner, a C17 poor-box; an upright, hollowed-out beam with stopped-chamfered edges and heavy iron hinges and three locks (one formerly bearing the Wynn arms). Modern stained glass to E window.  

Reason for designation
Included at Grade 1 as a late Medieval parish church with exceptionally good historic interior detail.  

Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]