St Dubricius, Gwenddwr

Gwenddwr ChurchThere are very few churches in Wales dedicated to St Dubicius otherwise known as Dubritius, Dubric, Dyfig, Dyfrig, or Devereux. He was born near Hereford and became a monk and important church leader in southeast Wales and western Herefordshire. His earliest foundation was Archenfield, Hereford, but his most important centres were at Hentland and Moccas in the Wye valley. Dyfrig attracted numerous disciples to the two monasteries, and from them founded other monasteries and churches. In medieval legends he becomes the ‘archbishop of Caerleon’ who crowns ‘King’ Arthur at Colchester. He died around 545 AD.

Gwenddwr Church was also part of a 6th Century monastic establishment, a daughter grange to the Cistercian Abbey Dore, dedicated to St Dubricius.
In the early 19th Century, Theophilus Jones wrote that ‘the roof of the alehouse is better than the church’; and said that the porch was very low, there was an uneven earth floor, the seats were decayed and irregular, and the chancel indifferently flagged. Later, in 1876, a fire destroyed much of the church that Jones so disparaged. It was restored at a cost of £890 in 1886 (equivalent to over £62000 today) as the work schedule stated that ‘the north wall of the nave and chancel and a portion of east wall be taken down to foundations, and rebuilt with hammer-dressed stone with random walling to correspond to earlier walls; original windows should be reused; dressings replaced where necessary; ground on the south side of church was to be removed to the depth of the internal floor level; the floor in nave was to be raised 14″; pews and stalls replaced; and tower repaired with new window on south’.

Today, St Dubricius, Gwenddwr is a light and airy church, largely Victorian in layout and decoration but with a modern stain glass window of St Dubricius on the north of the sanctuary. There are three 18th Century bells inscribed with the names of the churchwardens. Clues to the church’s ancient history can still be seen: a blocked 14th Century priest’s door, a 15th Century porch, and ancient foundations to the tower. While sitting on the bench in the award-winning churchyard one can look across to the hill beyond and see a field showing the clear undulations of buried walls. The remains, it seems, of the ancient village with its monastic links to St Dubricius almost1500 years ago.

The church is open during the day from Easter to October for prayer and quiet reflection.

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Who was St Dubricius?