Llantrisant - Sts Afran, Ieuan and Sannan

The name of this parish is derived from the Welsh phrase "church of three saints", and the church is indeed dedicated to saints Afran, Ieuan and Sannan. It is in an isolated spot near the farmstead of Ty Mawr, and is accessible only by walking across fields. It fell into disuse after a new church was built nearby in 1899. It ultimately became roofless, but was reroofed in 1968 by the Ancient Monuments Division of the Department of the Environment (the predecessor of Cadw). In 1978 it became the first church on Anglesey to be taken over by The Friends of Friendless Churches.

The church in this parish is mentioned in the 1254 Valuation of Norwich, an assessment of clergy properties in England and Wales, carried out by the Bishop of Norwich. However, the current building dates from the 14th century. The continuous nave and chapel, with a 14th century window of trefoiled lights behind the alter, form the oldest part. In the 17th century a chapel was added to the south side, forming an L shape and increasing the capacity of the church to accommodate parishioners from the nearby Llanllibio chapel, which was closing.

The baptismal font dates from the 12th century, but was only brought to this church around forty years ago, after it was rescued from a church in Grove, Buckinghamshire, which was undergoing conversion into a house. The other main furniture in the church is a collection of various types of box and bench pews, added in the early 19th century. Some box pews have large compartments, with benches around three sides, others are smaller with two benches. One is a very small one with no bench and room for just two or three people to stand. The alter is a simple slate slab behind a moulded communion rail.

There are several memorials on the walls. The most elaborate one is in memory of Hugo Williams of Nantanog, who died in 1670. Usually named Hugh in historical records, he was the rector of Llantrisant and Llanrhyddlad, and a doctor of divinity. His son William, after attending Jesus College, Oxford, joined the law profession at Grey's Inn and later entered Parliament. He rose to become Speaker of the House of Commons under Charles II, and was knighted and appointed Solicitor General by James II. You can see Williams' portrait on the BBC Your Paintings web site. The memorial itself is finely carved in marble with cherub faces and flowers, surmounted by a coat of arms with two sets of crossed foxes. It is on the wall above Hugo's original burial slab.

The isolated medieval churches on Anglesey are often set off on their own, with no nearby houses. Tal-y-Llyn and Llanbeulan are good examples. They may once have been surrounded by early settlements but those houses, rarely made of stone, have long since disappeared. Llantrisant is unusual in having a semicircle of three derelict stone buildings next to the churchyard, the gable end of the main building actually forming part of the churchyard wall.

This homestead, Ty'n-llan, was the home of woollen weaver Thomas Jones, his wife Ellen and their eight children, in the later half of the 19th century. The censuses for this period show just one family living there, so the two smaller single-story buildings were probably used for his weaving operations, with the larger two story one housing the family. By 1891 all the children except daughter Catherine had left home. Thomas died in 1898, aged 80, leaving just his wife and daughter at the house. By 1911 Ellen had also died, leaving the 50 year old Catherine at the house alone, living off her private means. Presumably abandoned after her death, the buildings have slowly deteriorated. The site is now a sad sight, overgrown and scattered with rusting metal machinery and bottles, the walls of the buildings surround the remains of collapsed roofs and upper story floors, but with the staircase of the main building still intact.

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Last modified 2 January, 2017