Provincial press releases

Church of the ‘saviour of the Welsh language’ prepares for Royal visit

The thousands of travellers commuting up and down the length of Wales on the A470 highway probably have little idea that they are passing within feet of an historic and cultural gem.

This week, however, quite a few cars will be pulling over in the layby halfway between Dolgellau and Machynlleth in the Dyfi valley, which serves as the main carpark for the tiny village of Mallwyd.

On Friday (July 5) HRH The Prince of Wales will be visiting the village church of St Tydecho – a stunning Medieval building, served for 40 years by a Renaissance scholar known as the ‘saviour of the Welsh language.’

Former Rector of Mallwyd, the Revd Dr John Davies edited and revised the 1620 Welsh translation of the Bible – 400 years ago next year – and also the 1621 Book of Common Prayer. Not only did the translations make the books more accessible to people at a time when few could read or write, they were also highly significant in preserving the Welsh language.

During his visit, the Prince will join the congregation for a traditional Welsh service, the Plygain, led by a party of close harmony singers. Before he leaves, he will also take a look at ancient yew trees in the burial ground.

“We are delighted that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is recognising the cultural and historical significance of St Tydecho’s church to Wales,” says the Revd Miriam Beecroft, vicar and Ministry Area Leader. “It is one of our hidden treasures, not least because it was where John Davies served while he worked on the translations which earned him the reputation of being the ‘saviour of the Welsh language’. It seems very fitting to mark the visit with an ancient Welsh language service, the Plygain.”

The Plygain service will be led by the Dean of Bangor, Kathy Jones.

A Welsh Scholar

Dr John Davies was a renowned Welsh scholar who was Rector of Mallwyd for 40 years from 1604 until his death in 1644. A student of Bishop William Morgan, he worked with Bishop Richard Parry in editing and revising the translations of both the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. He also wrote a Welsh grammar (in Latin) and dictionary (Welsh-Latin, Latin-Welsh).

A memorial to Dr Davies was erected in the church to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his death.

Mallwyd church was founded around the sixth century by St Tydecho after he came to the area from Cornwall. The present building, which is Grade Two listed, dates from the 14th Century with the tower and porch being added during Dr Davies’ time in the 17th Century. It has an unusual balcony of tiered seating at the back which was added in 1764. In the burial ground outside are several ancient yew trees.

You can see a short film of St Tydecho church here