General view of Llanfair Caereinion from the south

Llanfair Caereinion

Market town with a holy well.

The well in Llanfair Caereinion churchyard

Llanfair Caereinion is an old weaving town and many of the houses are typical nineteenth-century weavers’ cottages. It was also a local agricultural centre and had a customary market. There is still a Market Square in the centre, with an eighteenth-century inn, the Black Lion. There is also an excellent bread and cake shop on the hill above the church.

The churchyard has a well dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was restored in 1990 with help from the Prince of Wales’s Trust. The church has an ornate south doorway which must date from about the time that the parish was given to the nuns, in 1239. Did they rebuild the church - and were they responsible for re-dedicating it to the Virgin?

The well is a healing well and is almost certainly older than the church. Most of the church was rebuilt in 1868 but it still has much of its original fifteenth-century roof timbers. The foundations of the original church were found during recent restoration work. In the sanctuary is a recumbent effigy of a knight in armour. This is Dafydd ap Gruffydd Fychan, a local landowner who died in about 1400.

There is also a memorial to a more recent landowner, David Davies, who died in 1790. With naive generosity, he directed in his will that sixpence (2½p in modern currency) should be given to each poor person who attended his funeral. They must have come from miles around: they packed the church, and 1,030 of them received their sixpences. The practice of giving money indiscriminately to poor people at funerals really belongs to an earlier period when the prayers of the poor were valued. By the eighteenth century, the convenient concept of the undeserving poor gave most of the wealthy a good excuse for restricting their generosity.

Archaeological survey of the church on the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust web site.

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