If you are in the Tywyn/Fairbourne area, it’s well worth visiting St. Celynin’s Church, Llangelynnin, near Llwyngwril. It’s a very old and very simple, rustic church. It is still in use, but no longer the main church for Llwyngwril (that’s a more modern church with the same name in the village itself). To visit you’ll need to park in the layby on the coast road and this is situated on the sea side of the road as you drive between Tywyn and Llwyngwril – don’t be tempted to try to drive down to the church because there isn’t really anywhere to park or turn around as that road is really just for access to the few houses there. So if you are coming up the coast you need to park before the church (we missed the layby, but were able to turn around in a turning further along) and if you are going down the coast it’s a bit easier as you will have passed the signs to the church before you reach the layby. It’s a steep hill down to the church (and back up again of course) so be aware of that and if it’s damp at all I’d recommend reasonably robust footwear as I can imagine the stones might get slippy and you will probably want to have a wander round the characterful graveyard. If you are coming by train the nearest stop is Tonfanau (a request stop) or you can approach from the other side Llwyngwril (older maps may show a station at Llangelynnin, but trains no longer stop here, but look over the wall at the bottom of the churchyard and you will see the tracks). My map doesn’t show a suitable walking route from either though so it might be a case of a lot of road walking or making it part of a much longer walk. There are also buses that run along the coast road.
St Celynin’s Church was first mentioned in documents of 1254. It is a Grade I listed building, and retains much of its medieval character, having only had fairly minor restoration. It’s lovely to see such an unspoilt church with its simple character preserved. The building underwent extensive restoration in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. It seems likely that at this time the walls were raised and roof was replaced.
St Celynin’s Church has seventeenth century wall paintings were found on the north wall of the chancel in 2003, including texts and a momento mori skeletal figure. There’s also a horse bier for carrying coffins at funerals – this is the ladder like wooden object hung on the wall.
The church is named for St.Celynin who lived in the 6th century, and according to tradition was one of the sons of Helig ap Glanawg, a prince who lived at Llys Helig.