St Gwynog's Church, Aberhafesp


 Aberhafesp Parish Church is dedicated to St: Gwynog, whose Saints day is October 26th. The church at Llanwnog is also dedicated to him.

Gwynog was born in Wales in 511 A.D., the son of Gildas, 'a most ancient British historian' and a monk of Bangor. Gwynog was a pupil of St. Ffinnian, an Irish monk.

Gwynog left the country to take refuge in Brittany with his father, who had stirred up the wrath of the Welsh princes - especially that of Cyr!las, who was Prince of Powys. Gwynog took orders late in life and became Bishop of Vannes, but after rousing the anger of the King he was sent into exile. He died in Angers at the age of 69, in 580 A.D., just 10 years after the death of his father. He lived in this immediate neighbourhood between 540 and 550 AD.

Despite Aberhafesp church's dedication to St Gwynog, there is no convincing evidence that it was a Celtic/pre-medieval foundation.custom_image

First records

The church was first recorded as "Capella de Aberhafh" in the Norwich Taxation of 1254, when it was a chapel subject to the mother church at Llandinam.  The first parish register dates back to 1578.

Initial form

Prior to the 1857 rebuilding, the church consisted of a nave, a south porch and a western tower rising to two storeys, with a pyramidal roof. In 1855, Sir Stephen Glynne recorded that the tower was lower than the nave roof and was surmounted by a wooden belfry.

1857-60 rebuilding

Most of the church we see today dates from 1857-60, when a major rebuilding took place. However, the 15th century nave roof and south wall were both retained, with new stone cladding added to the latter.  The 1860 tower is much taller than the one that preceded it and topped by a battlemented parapet.  A chancel was added to the nave and the south porch rebuilt.  A new gallery was added at the west end, but this was taken down in 1866.


The west wall of the nave is decorated with panels of poker-work (pyrography) lift high.  The panels were designed, worked and donated by Edward Bernard Proctor (Coleman) and contain copies of paintings by Leonardo, Rafael, Michelangelo and other artists executed in very fine detail.  The work was dedicated at Easter 1893 and is inscribed on the lower right- hand corner.

The panels depict Baptism, Worship and Pastoral care and the words 'Praise the Lord ye that stand in the house of the Lord, praise ye the name of the Lord' are inscribed across the top.

The left-hand panel depicts Baptism with the wording 'Suffer Little Children to come unto me'.  The central panel surrounding the door depicts Worship with the inscription 'Serve God acceptably with Reverence'.  The third panel depicts Pastoral care with the wording 'The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want'.

Church Room

The sudden illness and death of Lieutenant Charles Hilton Woosnarn of the 8th Hussars occurred in 1910.  His father, Canon Woosnarn, had been born in Bombay and his family had become part of the British Indian Army.  Canon Woosnam had entered holy orders and become Archdeacon of Macclesfield and a Canon of Chester Cathedral.  The family had their origins within the Upper Severn Valley and he returned to retire in Aberhafesp, taking on the less onerous task of rector.

The death of Lieutenant Charles Hilton Woosnarn  was a severe blow to his parents who bequeathed funds to build the parish room in his memory.  The original parish room was in the Pentre area and was used for many events until the Community Centre became available in the late 1970's.  Use then became infrequent and parking, with increasing traffic, was difficult.  It was therefore decided to sell the building and use the funds to invest in the room (with kitchen and toilet) that now adjoins the church.  The parish room is now a private dwelling.

The main room has a plaque recording its antecedents, which was dedicated by the Bishop of St Asaph on October 23rd 1989.  There is a wall clock with a brass mechanism in memory of C.H.Woosnam facing a large framed picture of him in the Hussars Uniform.  Other decorations are a Noah's Ark montage made by the Craft Guild and a cross made of local wood, nuts, acorns and cones for a flower festival.