St. Maelrhys, nr Aberdaron
A very small, very simple church in a peaceful isolated location on a quiet back lane just inland from Porth Ysgo. With the original box pews to one side and rustic benches on the other, it speaks of the history of landowner farmers and their employees.
This is one of only two churches on the Llyn Peninsula from where you can see the mountain on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), the sacred pilgrim island of ‘twenty thousand saints’. The interior is simple, without ornamentation, and is remarkable for the clear arched window above the small altar that affords a view of the western flanks of Penarfynydd hill. No need for stained glass windows when one can see God’s creation laid out before you.
R.S. Thomas, poet and priest (1913-2000), was vicar here (1967-1978) where he continued to worship and minister in his retirement, when he lived in Sarn Plas, Y Rhiw. The “Llofft RS Thomas” is a small upper room in the church, with a view of Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), set out with pictures, books and CD's, where pilgrims can sit and read, or listen to music associated with Thomas's work. A quiet sanctuary within the enveloping peace of Llanfaelrhys. RS Thomas poet and priest (1913–2000) was vicar here (1967–1978) and continued to worship here in his retirement, when he lived in Sarn Plas, Y Rhiw. In the south east corner of the graveyard you will find the grave of his wife, the artist Elsi Eldridge, who died in 1991. Her grave stone carries the subsequent inscription “Ac yn ei ysbryd RS Thomas” ("And in his spirit RS Thomas"). Jim Cotter, the founder of Small Pilgrim Places Network is buried just a few graves along. The Keating sisters and their mother who gifted Plas yn Rhiw, 3 miles away, to the National Trust are buried here too.
Standard opening times: 8 am to 5 pm Easter to October. Evening Prayer Service at 2 pm every Sunday in Welsh, except 3rd Sunday of the month which is a Eucharist Service. During peak visitor times, contemplative reflections by candlelight are offered on Wednesday evenings. Contact the hospitaller or St Hywyn’s website.
Llanfaelrhys Porth Ysgo, Porth Ysgo, nr Aberdaron, Gwynedd, LL53 8AN, United Kingdom
Grid reference: SH 210 268
By car: From St Hywyn’s Church Aberdaron proceed in a north easterly direction up the hill towards the village of Y Rhiw. After 2 miles, arrive at the first crossroads and turn right. 1 mile from this junction arrive at St Maelrhys church. Parking outside the church for 6 cars if close together. Also grass layby, down the lane towards Porth Ysgo.
On foot: From Porth Ysgo, it is a short diversion from the Llyn and All Wales Coastal Footpath. From Aberdaron a 50 minutes walk, mostly up hill.
Level ground, suitable for wheelchair access
Views of the rural landscape and towards Ynys Enlli in the distance. Benches on the south side of the church.
Toilets, refreshments, accommodation etc. available in Aberdaron.
Hospitaller available by arrangement for poetry readings and guided walks..
Tel: 01758 703039