St Cynog Church (Established 492)

Most fonts in churches are covered in wood wherever you go in Wales because of an old folklore from ages past, people believed that witches would come by night and pollute the holy water and the witches did not like wood.
The lych-gate (Corpse gate) of St Cynog’s Church and other churches was where the local priests came to meet the body of a deceased person.
St Cynog Church, there is a story that the church was first established there around the 6th century and possibly founded by St Cynog himself. The church in that era would have been probably made of small wooden structures with mud and wattle walls, stones structures were very scarce in this period.
During the Norman period there were many arguments between the Norman barons to what areas of land was theirs. A dispute arose between Humphrey de Bohun, load of Brecknock and Gilbert de Clare Lord of Glamorgan in respect of Morlais Castle “Nr Merthyr” which is situated on the border of Glamorgan and Brecknock, these two lords laid claim to Morlais castle. Subsequently to this dispute de Clare married the king’s daughter, whilst de Bohun was related to the queen. The king advised them to come to an amicable settlement, but soon after de Clare took up the offensive and sent a strong force to take the castle. Finding it deserted they moved onto Breconshire in the direction of Cwm-Taf-Fawr destroying everything in their path, they crossed into Cwm Cadlan and thence to Hepste and Ystradfellte, when they passed Penderyn they destroyed the church by fire. It was many years before the church of St Cynog was rebuilt some say after the death of de Clare in 1295.
The present church stands on the place of the original, but the nave and chancel was rebuilt around 1895, the only evidence now of its medieval past is in the tower and the Holy Water Stoup, preserved in its place on the right hand side on the inner door of the church, and some embellished bosses from the old roof have been incorporated in the ceiling of the present chancel.
The bells were installed around the 1700’s, the present bells bear inscriptions, dates and founders marks, on one of them is a 17in in diameter and the other is 20in. The larger bell bears the name of John Williams Rector, the bell also on it a banner design with the founder’s initials: H.W. “Henry Williams, bell founder, Brecon”, the other initials are of the church wardens at that time.
Most fonts in churches are covered in wood wherever you go in Wales because of an old folklore from ages past, people believed that witches would come by night and pollute the holy water and the witches did not like wood.
The lych-gate (Corpse gate) of St Cynog’s Church and other churches was where the local priests came to meet the body of a deceased person.

Main Window 1886 donated by the Bodwigiad Family

Many people think of the stain glass window behind the main alter is the representation of the Magi “wise men of the east” but this is untrue. It is in a betrayal of gentile kings doing homage, not to a babe, but a to the Christ child in the arms of the Madonna. Look closer and you will see two kings and their attendants and not three Magi. The picture appears to be based on evangelical prophecy of Isaiah, wherein he envisages Zion becoming the centre of universal attraction. The quote at the bottom of the window, it’s taken from Psalm 72, verse 11:
“All Kings shall fall down before him all nations shall serve him”.

Sanctuary windows donated by Bodwigiad family

South side is the presentation of Jesus in the temple and Mary, his mother making the requisite offering of a pair of turtle doves.

Menelaus South Stain glass

There is a beautiful glass on the south side of the church near the chancel, of two figures St David and St Andrew. This is memorial window to William Menelaus “Scotland”, St David “is adopted country” who was once an engineer at the Dowlais Iron Works, he married a lady from Ysgubor Fawr hence the connection to the parish. The window was place there by his cousins, C.J. and W.L. Darling, one of whom was the famous Justice Darling, who one time figured prominently in important cases. Margaret Jennet Rhys “Brother of Rhys Hopkin Rhys” married William Menelaus in 1825.

North Side glass of St Martin of Tours

North side near the pulpit is in memory of Sarah Rhys and Phillip Rhys, and was placed there by Mary Edwin Jones and Sarah Jennet Gibbins, daughters of Sarah Rhys.

Faith and Charity

This glass was executed by one of the foremost artists in London, is on the south near the entrance. At Eastertide 1947 it was unveiled by Mrs Emiah George of Hirwaun and dedicated by the Bishop of the Diocese, as a memorial to Griffith William and Elizabeth Ann John, one time prominent business people in Glynneath. It was given by their children Emiah, Rhys, William and Marie.