Interior and stained glass window of St Asaph Cathedral

Special places of faith heritage in North Wales

From ancient islands of pilgrimage, to holy wells, remote mountain chapels, stunning stained glass windows and sumptuous yew trees, North Wales has it all when it comes to special sacred places.

St Winefride's Well, Holywell

According to legend, this holy well sprung up in the seventh century when St Winefride was restored to life by St Beuno after a brutal attack that left her decapitated. Pilgrims have sought the curative waters here since the 12th century and modern pilgrims can still bathe in the large exterior well pool. The current Roman Catholic shrine is a sixteenth century gothic splendor and the museum tells the history of this most venerated holy well.

Rug Chapel near Corwen

 

Definitely not an adherent to the view that ‘less is more’, the plain exterior of this simple grey chapel does nothing to prepare the visitor for the sheer wow factor of its richly decorated interior. In direct contrast to the prevalence of the 17th century puritanical style, Colonel William Salesbury created a richly painted and carved private chapel, in accord with his ‘high church’ religious views, that makes Rug Chapel a real feast for the eyes.

Bardsey Island, Llŷn Peninsula

 

Bardsey Island is known as the burial place of 20,000 saints. From the sixth century where St Cadfan built a monastery here, the trip along the Llŷn Peninsula to Bardsey has been an important pilgrimage route for Christians. Modern pilgrims can reach the island via boat trips from Aberdaron to experience both the special atmosphere and also the abundance of wildlife, including charismatic puffins and seals on this unique National Nature Reserve.

Ty Mawr Wybrnant, Betws-y-Coed

Set in the heart of the Conwy Valley, Ty Mawr was the birthplace of Bishop William Morgan whose late sixteenth century first Welsh translation of the Bible was used in churches until 1988. This single act is seen by many as directly contributing to the saving of the Welsh language.  Restored by the National Trust, the 16th century upland farmhouse, is beautifully situated with lovely walks from the grounds.

St Dyfnog's Church and Holy Well

 

A sacred site since the sixth century when St Dyfnog is said to have done penance standing in his holy well, which can still be visited next to the church. The main draw however in this lovely fourteenth century church, is without doubt the magnificent sixteenth century stained glass Jesse window that depicts in vibrant detail the family tree of Jesus Christ back to Jesse.

Valle Crucis Abbey, Llantysilio

 

A hugely atmospheric site and one of the best preserved Cistercian Abbeys in Wales. In the care of CadwValle Crucis was the last Cistercian Monastery of the medieval era to be built in Wales. The monks must have thought they had finally found perfection in this remote magical setting.  

Gwydir Uchaf Chapel, Llanrwst

 

Gwydir Uchaf Chapel was built in 1673 as a family memorial chapel for the Wynn’s of Gwydir and located in the woods above Gwydir Castle. Visitors are more than rewarded for their efforts to request the key and walk up to the chapel, as the simple stone exterior conceals the most beautiful painted ceiling depicting the Creation, the Trinity and the Last Judgment inside.

St Asaph Cathedral

 

A cathedral on a very human scale, St Asaph is reputedly the smallest cathedral in Great Britain. Originally built in 560 AD by Saint Kentigern, the current building is mostly 14th century with some inevitable Victorian additions. William Morgan, who made the first translation of the Bible into Welsh was Bishop here and is buried here too. A copy of his historic bible is kept on public display.

All Saints' Church, Gresford

The Seven Wonders of North Wales, penned in the late 18th century, includes the bells of Gresford, famed for the quality of their tone and purity. All Saints' is a surprisingly sumptuous church in a small village, with a fantastic interior as well as a magnificent grove of ancient yew trees.

Saint Tudno's Church, Great Orme

Christians have been worshipping at this iconic site on the Great Orme for over fourteen hundred years. Over the summer months St Tudno's hosts regular well attended outdoor services with great views which even visitors with their dogs are welcome to attend – nobody even seems to mind if they join in with the hymns!

From ancient islands of pilgrimage, to holy wells, remote mountain chapels, stunning stained glass windows and sumptuous yew trees, North Wales has it all when it comes to special sacred places.

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