This item will be necessarily brief, In the words of Lewis Carroll “I’ll tell thee everything I can, There’s little to relate….”
Ffynnon Gadfarch is one of those saints wells that has slipped away virtually unnoticed, the maps however still retain a faint trace in the name of the bridge that crosses the fast flowing River Erch just to the north, actually called Pont Fynnon-Gadfa ( I think we just have to assume the rest, but maybe even this shows the degree to which the well has been lost) a grade 2 listed causeway from the early 19th century. It lies a little to the north of the village of Y Ffôr off the Caernarfon to Pwllheli road.
(Then again maybe that always was the name and other people have jumped to conclusions)
Turning to the Lives of the British Saints, it is reported that Cadfarch was a monk at Bangor Dunawd, and a brother to saints Cawrdaf, Tangwn and Maethlu. He was formerly the patron of the church of Aberech, although this honour has now passed on to his brother Cawrdaf, whose own well, to be fair, has survived only slightly better. Cadfarch remains the patron of Penegoes church in Powys, where another well dedicated to the saint has survived a little better.
Lives of the British Saints notes that the Abererch Ffynnon Gadfarch is near the site of an extinct chapel called Llangedwydd, although the 1964 Report of the Royal Commission casts doubt on this, suggesting that the supposition of the existence of a chapel is based purely on the Llan- element of the surviving name Llangedwydd, which is more likely a corruption of an earlier name starting Llyn- or Llen-. Although Francis Jones notes that water from this well was once carried to the parish church for use in baptism, this is in fact an incorrect attribution and should refer instead to Cawrdaf’s well which is much closer to the church.
The Commission visited the well and noted that it had been modernised and indeed it ha. Basically what we see today is nothing but a large grey concrete structure in the field beside the river. These days the water is piped away, presumably to serve the local community.
Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales (1964) Caernarfonshire West
Baring Gould S and John Fisher (1908) Lives of the British Saints
Jones, Francis (1954) Holy Wells of Wales
Ffynnon Gadfarch SH39974021
Good detective work and a rather ungainly makeover for an ethereal well
Oh thank you. I suppose it’s being put to good use, but yes it could have been done a bit more sympathetically. It’s hard to miss in that landscape
One stop shopping those days! Communal, spiritual, fresh fluids from source. Hi did one come to take saintly control over a well and were charges levied?
I recently attended a well blessing and in hindsight I am curious what this actually meant or was regarded by the Christian priest presiding over the blessing. I guess I should ask them but did they really take it seriously.
Thirdly in my ramblings, I am interested in St. Chad having run into a street in London given his name (trying to find the Swingers Club…crazy golf silly). I seem to be propelled in his direction, unknowingly naming a character in a short story after him. Rough film script
Francis Jones did indeed say that water was taken from this well to Abererch church. But he carelessly misquoted Elias Owen. In the 1893 paper Jones gives as his source (on p.82 as well as p.150 of his book), Owen clearly says, on pages 271 and 272, that the water for baptism was taken from St Cawrdaf’s Well. So yet another careless reference by Francis Jones, I’m afraid. There are plenty more in his book!
duly corrected, thanks
Thannk you for this
Thanks for visiting and for your response.
The bridge was called Pont Ffynnon Gadfarch in a quarter sessions document of 1660 (Caernarfon RO, XQS/1660/117
Thanks for that Gareth – it is clearly the most sensible name for the bridge and helps to pin down much earlier documentary evidence for the well name itself. I’m not sure how, why or when it became contracted to something so meaningless – maybe an error by an early map maker. but good to have confirmation of its original full name.