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St Garmon's Church, Llanfechain.jpg

St Garmon's Church, Llanfechain
Llanfechain is located in Powys
Location within Powys
Population465 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSJ190203
  • Llanfechain
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtSY22
Dialling code01691
FireMid and West Wales
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
52°46′28″N 3°12′07″W / 52.7744°N 3.2019°W / 52.7744; -3.2019

Llanfechain is a village and community in Powys, Wales, on the B4393 road between Llanfyllin and Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. Historically it belonged to Montgomeryshire. The Afon Cain runs through. The population of 465 at the 2011 Census was estimated at 476 in 2019.[2]


Llanfechain could mean "parish or church (llan) of the Cain valley" (from Llan ym Mach Cain meaning "church in the field or plain of the Cain"[3] to Llan ym Mechain and then Llan-mechain, which becomes Llanfechain as a result of the common mutation of 'm' to 'f' in Welsh).[4][5] However, it might also mean "small (fechan) church or parish (llan)". Spellings of place names vary over time, so that small variations such as chain/cain and fechain/fechan are plausible. The name in the form Llanveccheyn is first encountered in 1254.[6] It has also been known as Llanarmon-ym-Mechain,[7] ym-Mechain referring to its location in the medieval cantref of Mechain, thus "Church of St Garmon in Mechain".[8]

Places of worship

The parish church, St Garmon's, was begun in Norman times and retains many original features.[9] It is a Grade II* listed building.[10] Consisting of a single chamber, it has Romanesque windows in the east wall and two doorways in the south wall. There were some Victorian alterations, including the addition of a western bell turret. Inside, the roof dates from the 15th century, the font dates from about 1500, the pulpit bears a date of 1636, and at the western end its gallery remains.[6]

Little is known of St Garmon. Tradition has him living in the 9th century and preaching from a mound in Llanfechain churchyard. The remains of the mound, Twmpath Garmon, are still evident north of the church, although graves have been dug into it. According to the recollections of 19th-century villagers recorded in Volume 5 of the Montgomeryshire Collections, cockpits were dug near to the mound for cockfighting. Fynnon Garmon, the holy well associated with Garmon, lies to the south-east of the village.[11] St Garmon is likely to have been derived from St Germanus (410–474), the first Bishop of Man.[7]

The village used to have two chapels: the Peniel Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (erected 1834, rebuilt 1875, Sunday School added 1901, closed about 1990, now residential),[12] and Zoar Calvinistic Methodist Chapel (erected 1827, rebuilt 1914,[13] closed 2008).[14][15]

Notable sites and buildings

  • After the Norman Conquest, an earthwork motte-and-bailey castle, Tomen y Castell, was strategically placed above the valley of the Cain to control the area.[6] It was probably a timber castle, so only the earthworks remain. It is a ditched mound measuring 38–43 metres in diameter and about 9.5 metres high, having a summit diameter of 10–12 metres. It was probably built by Owain Fychan ap Madog (prince of Powys, son of Madog ap Maredudd) in 1166. It is to the north of the main road from Llanfyllin to Oswestry and about 400 yards south-west of the church.[16]
  • Ty Coch, on the main road opposite the lane leading to the church and village, is a restored 15th-century hall-house with 17th-century modifications. It is Grade II listed.[6] It was owned by the Jesuits of Stonyhurst (Lancashire) in the 19th century and used as a resting place for travellers.[17][18] St Garmon's well (Ffynnon Armon) is on the land of Ty Coch,[19] about 300 yards south-east of the church.[16]
  • The local pub, the Plas-yn-Dinas Inn opposite the church, is a Grade II, late 17th-century half-timbered building once used as a courthouse.[19]
  • Plas Cain, beside Llanfechain Bridge, is a timber-framed dwelling thought to be from the 17th century. In the late 19th century the house was known as 'Sycamore Cottage'.[6][20]
  • On the north side of the Cain is the Old Rectory, which is believed to be from around 1620; it was considerably altered and enlarged during the 18th and 19th centuries and ceased to be a parsonage in about 1980.[6][21]
  • Bodynfoel Hall (built in 1832 and home of the Bonnor-Maurice family, some of whom served as High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire) is near Llanfechain.[22] It is a medium-sized early Victorian mansion in neo-Jacobean style with formal gardens, semi-natural woodland, man-made lake and a small area of park; the mansion is a Grade II listed building.[23][24]

Notable residents

In order of birth:

  • Gwerful Mechain (c. 1460 – post-1502), the one female poet of Medieval Wales from whom much work has survived, was descended from a noble Llanfechain family.[25]
  • Gwallter Mechain (real name Walter Davies), a Welsh poet, was born at Y Wern, near Tomen y Castell, Llanfechain in 1761.[11] He was Rector of Manafon and arbiter of Eisteddfodau.[26] He undertook agricultural surveys of counties in North and South Wales in 1797–1815.[27]
  • David Thomas (1880–1967) was a trade union and Labour Party organizer and adult tutor born and schooled in Llanfechain.[28]
  • James Hanley (1897–1986), novelist and playwright, lived in Llanfechain from December 1940 to 1963 and called it by the name "Llangyllwch" for a fictional portrait in the novella "Anatomy of Llangyllwch", part of Don Quixote Drowned (1953).[29] He died in London in 1985 and was buried in Llanfechain.[30]


Llanfechain was served by a station on the Llanfyllin branch of the Cambrian Railways from 1863. The line closed in 1965 and has since been dismantled.[31] The station building remains as a private residence. The track bed to Llanfyllin has been built over by an industrial estate.

Education and amenities

The village has a small Church in Wales primary school. It was rated Good in a May 2016 Estyn report.[32][33]

The village has a village hall. A traditional village show had been held on the August Bank Holiday weekend every year since 1966,[34] but had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[35]


  1. ^ "Community population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  2. ^ City Population. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  3. ^ Lloyd, John Edward (1912). A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest. Longmans, Green, and Co. p. 247. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  4. ^ Cathrall, William (1828). The History of North Wales Volume II. Manchester. p. 345.
  5. ^ Richards, Robert (1949). "Y domen Gastell". Montgomeryshire Collections Relating to Montgomeryshire and Its Borders. 51: 72. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Historic Settlement Survey – Montgomeryshire – Llanfechain" (PDF). Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Baring-Gould, Sabine; Fisher, John. The Lives of the British Saints Volume 3. p. 77.
  8. ^ Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 214.
  9. ^ "Church of St Garmon, Llanfechain". Montgomeryshire Churches Survey. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  10. ^ "Church of St. Garmon, Llanfechain". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Trail Two – The Cain Valley Trail – St Garmon, Llanfechain" (PDF). April 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  12. ^ "PENUEL METHODIST CHAPEL (WESLEYAN), LLANFECHAIN". Coflein. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  14. ^ "The Churches of Britain and Ireland". The Churches of Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Llanfechain: Church History". Genuki. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  16. ^ a b An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire: I - County of Montgomery. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. 1913. p. 89.
  17. ^ "Llanfechain". Visitor UK. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Ty-coch, Llanfechain". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  19. ^ a b "Llanfechain". Visitor UK. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Plas Cain, Llanfechain". British Listed Buildings.
  21. ^ "Old Rectory, Llanfechain". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Bodynfoel Hall". Parks and Gardens UK. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  23. ^ "Bodynfoel Hall". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  24. ^ "BODYNFOEL HALL, GARDEN, LLANFECHAIN". RCAHMW (Coflein). Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  25. ^ Koch, John T (2006). Celtic Culture: Aberdeen breviary-celticism. ABC-CLIO. p. 862. ISBN 9781851094400.
  26. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1833). A Topographical Dictionary of Wales.
  27. ^ "Walter Davies ('Gwallter Mechain') and The Board of Agriculture". The National Library of Wales. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  28. ^ "Thomas, David (1880–1967), educationalist, author and Labour Party pioneer in north Wales". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  29. ^ Fordham, pp. 203–204.
  30. ^ Chris Gostick, "Extra Material on James Hanley's The Closed Harbour". The Closed Harbour. (Richmond, Surrey: Oneworld Classics, 2009), p. 213.
  31. ^ "Victorian Llanfechain". Victorian Powys for Schools. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  32. ^ [1] Report text.
  33. ^ School site. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  34. ^ "Llanfechain Village Show". Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  35. ^ Show page. Retrieved 19 January 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 March 2021, at 16:29
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