This little gem of a church sits in the former hard rock mining area of Mid Wales on the road between Ponterwyd and Devils Bridge. It was wisely chosen for the Christmas visit of CANTM members as its simplicity in architecture evokes a sense of gathering in a community which has a long history of hardship in a challenging terrain and conditions. As you enter the church the wildness of the exterior gives way to an immediate sense of welcome and warmth, the interior is bright but not garish, and tastefully decorated this year on a theme of favourite hymns.

The walls have many plaques which tell of its past, the one above the entrance door refers to it as a chapel and being rebuilt in 1827 and having extra seats added which would be free, as it was normal at that time for many church seats to have a title, and the remainder set aside for lesser mortals.

Our chairperson Judy Lile, introduced our host Delyth Morris Jones the church warden, who gave us all a very warm welcome followed by an informative and humorous talk, which included a description of the church and its surroundings, and some colourful occurrences in its mining history.

The lunch was served while we were seated in the pews, and composed of traditional Welsh Cawl made with mutton, accompanied by bread and cheese. There were more delicacies, with tea and coffee to follow, and with the offer of second helpings also to help us on our way, I’m sure we all were completely full and fortified for our journey home.

With maestro Maldwyn James playing the organ, the spirit of Christmas was truly raised with the joyous singing of five popular advent carols, the last of these being Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” which seemed so applicable to the outside scene.

Our chairperson Judy, gave the final address and thanks to Delyth, and all those who helped to make this visit to Ysbyty Cynfyn Church such an enjoyable, interesting, and moving experience.

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This area of Mid Wales has an enormous amount of history from its mining days. Like Cornwall, adventurers, mine captains, and miners risked their lives and money, in the lure of mineral deposits which they hoped to find buried deep in the hills. The church and chapel yards of such regions have graves with names on head stones which are testament to the many strangers to the area who came to work, settling locally, and eventually buried. The church and the surrounding countryside are certainly worthy of visiting again during the summer months.