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Llanelidan

In March 2007, Hafina Clwyd celebrated the village of Llanelidan. To her list

of closures, in 2018 we must now add the parish church…

Those of us hijacked by genealogy often believe that there is a conspiracy to stop us finding certain details of our family history. I certainly did when I discovered that the 1841 and 1861 census returns for Llanelidan parish are missing. Most unfortunate and frustrating! Nevertheless, I have managed to trace my paternal family tree back to the 1660s in this village. My ancestors lived on farms at Gwrych Bedw, Bodlywydd Fawr, Tyddyn Uchaf and Pwill Naid. So this parish has a special place in my heart. Llanelidan is divided into five townships—Nantclwyd, Llan, Bryncyme, Bodlywydd and  Garthneuadd. The parish church, which is mentioned in the Norwich Taxation of 1254, is dedicated to Elidan (she seems to have had local connections, but we don't know when she lived). It merits a visit as it has some fine wood carving, mediæval glass, and, like several other churches in the Vale of Clwyd, a double nave. The village has seen many changes over the centuries, but it still has a rather feudal air. The first three entries in the parish register are of the baptism of Maria, daughter of Eubule and Susan Thelwall, 26 September 1686; the funeral of Ephraim Thelwall, 8th February 1695; and the marriage of John Gryffith & Gwen Robert in 1697. In the churchyard, under a large yew tree, is the grave of John Jones, a petty thief known as Coch Bach y Bala; close by lies the Revd John Morris, who conducted Coch Bach's funeral in 1913, after he (Jones) had been shot in Nantclwyd Woods by Reginald Jones-Bateman of Eyarth—much to local consternation. Across the road from the church is the Leyland Arms, which for many years was run by the Evans family, all of whom were teetotal! One of the daughters, Florence Anne, married Thomas
Ellis Price of Pen y Rhiw, a schoolmaster at Pentrecelyn. In 1912 they emigrated to lowa, where Thomas had a large shop and formed a male voice choir. They were married for 70 years; Florence died on her 99th birthday in 1986. Over centuries, farms have disappeared and fine  houses raised to the ground. The school, shop and two chapels have closed and most of the original families have moved away. [The parish church looks set to follow, open in the future on selected days only as a “pilgrim church”—Ed]. The devastation and depopulation is well illustrated in an essay by Richard Wynne of Rhewl Felyn, which won him a prize at the Bryn Banadl chapel eisteddfod in 1920. He mentions the local herbalist Susannah Ellis, Pant Rhedynog, who made an ointment using mould she cultivated from the top of jam. Alexander Fleming did something similar in the 1930s and called it penicillin. A mediæval Susannah would have been burnt at the stake; in the 20th century she would have gone to medical school. Gomer Roberts, Cefn Griolen, chapel deacon, alderman, and JP in the early 20 century, wrote Atgofion Amaethwr (Memoirs of a Farmer), published by the Merioneth History Society; it is an invaluable portrait of late 19th century life. Llanelidan today is a tranquil spot, well known in horticultural circles for Dibley’s Nurseries, Cefn Rhydd, winner of many prizes at the Chelsea Flower Show, and special home of the streptocarcus [not something that requires treatment by Susannah Ellis!—Ed].