St Mary's at Penllech sits behind a farm yard in the isolated settlement of Penllech on the Llyn peninsula, North West Wales. I had passed the church several times while driving along the B4417 Nefyn to Aberdaron road, hidden behind the trees and across a ploughed field it looked somewhat inaccessible.
This time I had checked the OS map and plotted the route. I parked on the layby on the B4417 road, (I was not in the mood to risk taking the campervan down the narrow lane to the church as I had twice that morning had to reverse down the narrowest of country lanes after meeting those giant tractors and trailers that dominate the Welsh countryside during silage time).
I jogged down the lane to the church, camera in hand, and, as I was not looking where I was going, I twisted my ankle in a pothole. I stumbled forward in a headlong dive toward the ditch but, just in time, I was able to correct my balance and I saved both my head and my camera from damage. (The penance for my visit to this church on the Pilgrim’s Way was a sprained ankle that went both black and blue and swelled up like a football.) Feeling rather stupid, I hobbled along the lane, meeting the farmer’s wife on the way. She advised me of the short cut across her fields to the layby!
The small settlement of Penllech once included an Inn (being on the pilgrim’s route to Bardsey Island). However, such was my luck that day, that although it was the hottest day of the year, the Inn was no more, it having been incorporated into the renovated farmhouse.
The old church has been saved from falling into rack and ruin by the Friends of Friendless Churches. I have to say that this is the first of the FFC’s churches that I have visited and it is a crying shame that they were not in existence in the mid 19th century rather than the mid 20th century, before all those Victorian architects got their hands on the old churches.
Read what the FFC has to say:
Set on the Lleyn Peninsula, St Mary's at Penllech was vested in 2009 and has just emerged from a programme of repairs. It is medieval in origin but was mostly rebuilt in 1840. It feels like a simple rustic late Georgian interior complete with some box pews and two coffin biers propped up at the west end. That character has been reinforced by our reintroduction in 2009 of wooden tracery to the original form, designed for us by Graham Holland. The most surprising content is the octagonal sounding board (or "tester") to the pulpit which has an eight ray sunburst on its lower face.
Review St Marys Church Penllech.