Llanwynno is another typical Welsh upland settlement: church, pub and not much else. The pub does sandwiches and rolls. The church is medieval, with thirteenth- or fourteenth-century walls and late Victorian roof and windows. But there was an even earlier church on the site. Two early medieval stone crosses are built into the south wall. East of the porch is the grave of Guto Nyth-bran, a famous local runner. Behind the pub and lost in scrub and brambles is St Gwynno’s Well.
Who was Gwynno? Another little-known Welsh saint. According to one local tradition, he was one of the disciples of the great Illtud, who founded the monastery at Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major). The church at Llantwit Fardre, south of Pontypridd, is dedicated to Illtud, and the old church at Ystradyfodwg, in the Rhondda Fawr, is dedicated to another of his followers, Tyfodwg. They are the ‘three saints’ of Llantrisant, the old hilltop town west of Pontypridd. John Morgans, the minister at Penrhys, liked to picture the old abbot and his young followers meeting at Penrhys, the holy place between their three churches.
Another local tradition has Gwynno hailing from Britanny. When Illtud’s followers fled Wales because of the Yellow Plague in 547, they took refuge in Britanny. Returning to Wales, they brought with them several Bretons, including Gwynno and Tyfodwg.For more information on Llanwynno and its church visit the Campanologywales website. There is a lovely nineteenth-century sketch of the church on the Gathering the Jewels web site.