The church stands above the settlement and beach of Penbryn a popular, National Trust owned, stretch of the coast.
The church is dedicated to Caranog or Carantoc, son of Corun ab Caredig ab Cunedda, a 6th century saint and founder of several churches in Wales.
The church was originally built of wood about 500AD, though the present building dates from 1885, albeit containing earlier features. It consists of a nave and chancel connected through a pointed arch.
On either side of the entrance to the chancel is an ornamental pew. The left one bears the date 1674 and belonged to Pigeonsford, a local mansion. The right one is dated 1718 and belonged to Moel Ivor and Cwmowen.
The church is near to the cave used by the saint when in the area, and the churchyard contains the grave of Cranogwen, a remarkable 19th century woman who was variously a mariner, a teacher and a bard.
The 'church village' is hidden by a twist of the valley and cannot be seen from the sea. This protected it from the attention of sea marauders, the Vikings and the Irish. There is evidence of an early Celtic settlement at nearby Lochtyn.
St Mary's Well was a popular destination for pilgrims who would take the water for health purposes.