© St Bridget and St Cwyfan 2018
History of SS Mael and Sulien

THE WORD CWM - is the Welsh word for a valley, and the parish corresponds to its name. It is a scattered Parish of some 3950 acres, with a population of approximately 250.

THE PARISH CHURCH - is dedicated to the Celtic Saints Mael and Sulien. St Mael lived in the 6th Century, and came over from Brittany with St Cadfan. St Sulien was also a saint of the 6th Century, and came with the brothers Rhystyd and Christiolus to Wales from Brittany, and became a member of the monastic community on Bardsey Island.

The Parish Church of SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

The two saints are often coupled together, and tradition says that they were brothers. The Parish Church of Corwen is also dedicated to them. Their feast day is 13th May.

The Parish Church of SS Mael and Sulien Cwm The Window dated 1769 at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

The east window was undoubtedly at one time fitted with stained glass, fragments of which were collected together to form a panel in the centre. In it there are 120 pieces of stained glass.

The Church has been restored in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the middle of the 19th century the ancient oak rook was replaced by one of deal. In 1881 unsightly pews, pulpit and fittings of red deal were installed. These were replaced in the 20th century. There was a gallery at the west end of the church which was taken down in 1901, to be replaced in 1955 with a new oak gallery, and organ, the gift of Mrs Trevor Eyton and her daughters in memory of the late Mr Trevor Eyton, D.L., J.P., and John Trevor Eyton, B.Sc..

The East Window at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE SOUTH DOOR - is of tremendous weight and is heavily studded. It probably dates from mediaeval times, as does its lock and key the key being 13 inches long, and weighing 1lb.

The South Door at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE WEST DOOR - which was also studded, was replaced with a new oak door made at Bodrhyddan Hall in 1967, in memory of Mary Ann Roberts and Isaac Christmas Evans.

The 13" Door Key at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

A HOLY WATER STOUP - can be seen on the right hand of the south door. Its edges have been chipped or broken off, but it has been preserved in its original and proper position. Worshippers dip their fingers in the water contained in the stoup and make the sign of the cross, as they enter church, to remind them of their baptism.

The Holy Water Stoup at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE FONT - dates from the 12th or 13th century, now rests on a modern pedestal. It has for unequal sides with one edge deeply hollowed as if it had been at one time used to sharpen implements and perhaps swords. It has a modern wooden cover with a cross surmounting an iron decoration, which was given to commemorate the induction of the Rev 'd J.C.Lewis as Vicar in 1930.

The Font at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE SEPULCHRAL SLABS - At the back of the church, near the font there are three sepulchral slabs. All of these are more ancient than the present building, which suggests that there was an earlier building.

The slab, without an inscription is of 14th century workmanship, and once formed part of the porch floor. Above this slab is the lower portion of another sepulchral slab with the inscription

“(Hi)c iacet Howe lap H(uw) ap Maredudd”

(Here lies Howel son of Huw son of Maredudd)

There is a sword on the right hand side, and there are three four lobed flowers near its base. Its date is 14th century.

The third slab contains a Maltese Cross, a four lobed flower in its centre an a fleur de lis, with the inscription

“Hic iacet Gwinlimn uxor Gronw Vo(le)”

“Here lies Gwenllian wife of Grow Voel”

This slab is also of 14th century workmanship.

The Stone Crucifix at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE STONE CRUCIFIX - Also on the wall near the font is a fragment of a stone crucifix, with the same figure carved on both sides of the stone. This was once fixed to the wall of the Vicarage orchard, and may at one time have been wantonly disfigured. It was brought into the church during the 19th century restoration.  The head and the arms have been knocked off, but the ends of the flowing hair can be seen falling over either shoulder. Its original position seems to have been somewhere indoors, for there are no signs of it being exposed to the weather. Its date is somewhat uncertain, but is probably 14th century, or slightly earlier.

THE OAK COFFER - near the font, is probably of 17th century workmanship. The heavy lid which is sawn in two is secured by three heavy padlocks. There is a slit, once used for alms, in one section of the lid.

The Oak Coffer at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE PEWS - were introduced into the church in 1944. Seven were erected by parishioners and eight were given in memory of various people, or as thank offerings .The dedications are to be found on each pew.

THE LECTERN - was given in 1937 by the Eytons of Plas yn Cwm, as was the reading desk. They were dedicated by the Bishop of St Asaph in 1938. 

The Lecturn at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE PULPIT - of oak, was a gift to the church in 1965 from Mrs Vera Hood and Mrs Griffiths-Eyton.

The Pulpit at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE CHOIR STALLS - were given by Admiral Rowley Conwy in 1932.

They were made locally by Mr T.J.Hughes, Ty’ncoed.

THE ALTAR RAILS - of oak, were given to the church in 1958 by Mr V.K.Walker, replacing some very badly damaged Jacobean rails.

THE ALTAR - was the gift of Miss Amy Jones and was dedicated in 1939. It is made of oak, and the front has a fine carving of the Lamb of God.

The Altar at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE REREDOS AND SANCTUARY PANELLING - was installed in 1944, the gift of Miss F. Turner, Shieling, Cwm in memory of Catherine A MacCallum. It is in oak, and matches the altar.

THE ALTAR CROSS AND ALMSDISH - are interesting examples of the Arts and Crafts School. They are of copper and brass, and were made and presented by Miss Lily Day in 1912.

THE RECESS - on the south wall of the Sanctuary, may have been a burial place, or it may have been an Easter Sepulchre, where the crucifix and sacred Elements were kept from Good Friday to Easter Day. It is of 14th century workmanship and has four lobed flower decoration.

THE CHURCH HAS SOME INTERESTING PLATE - the oldest being a large communion cup of 1647 bearing the inscription “Rhodd Richard Parry I’w Eglwys y Blwyf, Cwm.” (the gift of Richard Parry to his Parish Church, Cwm). Richard Parry was the son of Bishop Parry of St Asaph, 1604 - 1624.

THE VESTRY - was built as an extension to the Church in 1947. It was built as a memorial to Sgt Air Gunner Percy Weston Taylor, R.A.F., who was killed in action near Cologne in 1944.

The Vestry at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE BELLCOTE -  has provision for two bells. They were bought by public subscription in 1947, and bear the inscriptions Mael and Sulien.

The Bellcote at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE HOODED TOMB - in the Churchyard is a particularly fine example of this type of gravestone. It has a coat of arms underneath the arch and on the horizontal slab there are the following inscriptions

“Here lyeth the body of Grace Williams, the wife of John Griffith of Bersham in the County of Denbigh, who was interred the five and twentieth day of March Anno D M 1649.”

“Amoris ergo posuit Iohes Griffith.”

(for love’s sake John Griffth placed).

Ioe my sad pledge of last adieu

Is here presented to thy view.

Reader behold my losse soe deare

Spare thy censure spend a teare.

The Hooded Tomb at SS Mael and Sulien Cwm

THE VICARAGE - (now a private house) was built in 1847. It is interesting to note that there are 127 wells in the Parish. The most famous was the Well of St Sulien, which was in the Vicarage Garden, and was protected by a 14th Century sepulchral slab. Its waters were celebrated for curing diseases of the eye. The well was closed many years ago and the slab removed. The overflow cistern from the well can still be seen in the Vicarage wall.

The principal well in the Parish is Ffynnon Asa, a strong natural spring. Its waters were once used for the cure of rheumatism.

THE PARISH CHURCH - is mainly 15th or early 16th century in date, although there are firm grounds for believing that there was a church in the Parish long before that period - possibly founded by Ss Mael and Sulien.The main doorway certainly belongs to the early 16th century, as do the east window and the south chancel window. The windows of the north wall belong to the late 16th or early 17th century, and in 1769, the window near the pulpit on the south wall was put in.