Sunday, 9 December 2012

St Brothen's, Llanfrothen

St Brothen's, situated near what was originally the old shoreline of the Glaslyn estuary, dates back to the late sixth century. However, little remains of the original structure except the foundations- the church here is a medieval survivor, massively walled and roofed. It was rebuilt in the C15, but much of the shell can be dated to the C13th.

The churchyard contains many old slate gravestones, perhaps the most interesting of which is the grave of Robert Roberts, a poor quarryman. In 1888, a radical young lawyer called David Lloyd George, then only 25, championed the right of the family to bury him next to his daughter in the graveyard. He was a non-conformist, so the case was caught up in the religious intolerance of the age. However, the law fell on the side of the quarryman, despite the local vicar padlocking the gate. An apocryphal version of the story has Lloyd George cutting through the padlocked gates at midnight to allow the grieving family to bury the poor man by candlelight. Well, it made a good story, and brought Lloyd George national fame.

The church was well known to Clough Williams-Ellis, who had a great fondness for it. However, intolerance reared it's ugly head again as the congregation objected to a memorial to the man in the churchyard on the grounds that he was an agnostic. It can now be seen in Portmeirion.

The church is a grade 1 listed building in the care of the Society for Friendless Churches. Recently, it has had a minor restoration by local master craftsman Sion Langton. The society says that "He is one of the most sensitive and diligent builders we employ...he judges his success by the degree to which you cannot guess he has been there..."

A little bit of 21st century intolerance in the visitor's book.
The lovely old vicarage was lying empty and derelict near the church. A real shame that houses all over North Wales are left like this when there are so many who have nowhere to live.


Anonymous said...

Interesting back story, Iain.

One only has to turn on the news to see that religious intolerance is still alive and well in this day and age.

Plus ça change... eh?

Anonymous said...

My first thought as I saw the picturee of the Vicarage (before reading the caption) was: "Can I move in there?"

How did we get in this silly situation of high house prices, lots of homeless people and empty homes? I thought market capitalism was supposed to sort that sort of thing out.

In the former east Germany some cuncils have begun to give houses away in an effort to repopulate the place, so it is possible.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks very much, Andy. Where I live, in a hamlet of six houses, three lie empty for most of the year because they are owned by folk from elsewhere. But aside from this, we see at least two or three derelict houses every time we go on our travels. It needs a big change, but I don't think politicians are capable of delivering it.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Graham. It's a lovely church. Yes, it's rather depressing, I thought we could have realised by now that arguing about who has the best imaginary friend is pretty futile and doesn't help anyone.

Anonymous said...

Trouble is that in the UK House prices are somehow seen as important. Over here it looks a bit different which reduces the number of wasted houses around.

I think people can always find something to divide themselves over, be it faith or football.

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