The chapel is a Grade 2 listed building with an unusual layout and houses exhibitions of local history and the story of nonconformity in Wales.
Perched high above the Conwy Valley, this ancient holy place has an unrivalled ability to touch the soul. Its rugged simplicity and sweeping views make it a favourite stop on the Pilgrim’s Way to Bardsey Island and part of many other local walks.
In the corner of the walled churchyard is a well associated with 6th century Saint Celynnin, after whom this church is named. Its waters were reputed to have power to heal children. Today it shelters a colony of newts.
The present church dates mostly from the 12th century. The Capel Dynion (Men’s Chapel) to one side provided for Drovers: rough and ready Welsh cowboys moving herds of black cattle and geese past Llangelynnin as they crossed the mountains on the way to markets as far away as London. Mounds near the entrance to the churchyard were once an Inn and a cock fighting pit so perhaps keeping them quiet in church was a challenge!
You can see the remains of a rood screen and panelled ceiling. On the wall is a wooden bier, used to carry coffins by hand across the hills for funerals. Notice the Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer in Welsh painted on the east wall.
In the 19th century a less remote parish church was built in Rowen. However, that closed in the 1980s (and the stone font from it was carried up the hill to here). Llangelynnin Old Church carried on regardless and is still used for regular worship.
It attracts large and diverse congregations of walkers and pilgrims at dawn on Easter morning and then for a service once a month until October. There are also weddings and baptisms in this unique setting, even recently the ordination of a new priest.
For that extra sense of pilgrimage, there is a monthly walk across the hills to the church. You will receive generous hospitality (of tea, homemade cake and a loo stop!) at a nearby smallholding. What’s not to love?