St Mechell, Llanfechell
Nestled in the middle of a small, peaceful village, the whitewashed church of St Mechell is dedicated to a sixth century missionary who may also be identified as Malo. This Welsh saint was baptised by St Brendan and went on to establish churches in Brittany and found the city of Saint-Malo. He is thought to have been buried back on Anglesey, near his church.
In a 17th century manuscript, a Welsh poem tells how, in thanksgiving for a miraculous healing, Mechell was offered a gift of land in north Anglesey. The boundaries were created by a hare, released to run free, and that is where the saint founded a monastery, said to have become a famous centre of learning by the 8th century. Although modernised, the present church building (listed Grade II*) dates in part from the 12th century, with additions in the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries. Tradition says that the distinctive dome on the tower was built to muffle the ringing of the bell because the noise was souring the beer in the village brewery (where the Chapel House now stands).
The historic fabric and furnishings include a 13th century font, a window of retrieved medieval glass, and a memorial to William Bulkeley of Brynddu, an 18th century squire whose lively diaries of local life have been described as ‘perfect treasure-houses of allusion and incident’. More recent members of the Brynddu family are commemorated in other stained glass windows.
In either wall of the chancel are what may well be ‘leper lights’. These small windows (originally unglazed) allowed lepers to take part in services without mixing with the congregation. The porch (dating back to medieval times) holds an ancient and ornate but otherwise unidentified stone slab, similar to the type of lids used for the coffins of monastic burials. Might this have been for the burial of Mechell himself?
A stroll around the well-kept churchyard will reveal some interesting memorials including a number of war graves (more details in the illustrated guidebook, available in Welsh and English) and the remains of the old village cross. Lucky visitors may even glimpse red squirrels helping themselves from the feeder box installed on one of the yew trees!
This information also appears on ExploreChurches, the website of the National Churches Trust.
For further information and location of this Church please visit the Explore Churches, the website of the National Churches Trust where you can find a map showing the church's location..
Easter to end September 10am to 4pm daily; other times by arrangement with Mary Hughes (07788 842009).