St Michael's Church, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant
St Michael's Church, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant

This attractive little church stands near the River Dysynni, just east of the ruins of Castell-y-Bere. The church has several interesting historic features. The font, a scalloped bowl atop a cylindrical column, is 12th century and is thought to have come from the castle chapel.

There has been a church on this site since the 13th century, suggesting that the current building was erected in conjunction with Castell-y-Bere. Near the vestry is a small window, slightly offset. This is known as the Leper Window, and tradition says that it was made to allow inmates of a local leper colony to view services without actually entering the church.

In the vestry is a fascinating fabric model of the Dysynni valley, crafted by local people. The model is fully 14 feet long and is housed in a glass case.

Mary Jones memorial
The Mary Jones memorial

Mary Jones

Also in the vestry, which was added to the church around 1878, is a display on the life of Llanfihangel-y-pennant's most famous native, Mary Jones.

Jones was born in the village and became famous as the inspiration for the foundation of the Bible Society. In 1800, at the age of 15 or 16, she walked barefoot from Llanfihangel-y-pennant to Bala, a distance of 26 miles, to obtain a Bible. Her story gave impetus to the foundation of the Bible Society in 1804.

Mary Jones's parents are buried in the churchyard, but her grave is at nearby Bryncrug. A short walk from the church brings you to Tyn-y-ddol, where you can find a monument, erected in the ruined shell of the Jones house.

The location of the church is utterly superb, and the setting, combined with the historical connections, makes St Michael's a fascinating place to visit.