Llangar Church is situated in a lovely spot near to the confluence of the River Dee and its tributary the Alwen .
In folklore and myth the place where rivers meet is said to have special symbolism . These are ‘thin’ places where the veil is especially thin and unexplained occurrences are likely to take place .These ‘in-between’ places were often associated with a river deity who would have been honoured there . This practice has not died out and will be discussed in future articles
This is especially true when it comes to explaining how and why the church was built
Interestingly archaeological excavations have found nothing of the early, pre- fifteenth century church and this story may go some way to explain why!
As you approach the church along a path lined with gravestones listen carefully as you approach for it has been reported that singing and chanting have been heard from the empty church .
The present custodian of the church tells the story of what happened to him one morning as he was walking along the path to open up the church. Not a man who would take such things lightly he thought that he left a CD playing when he had locked the church the day before. He tells of hearing singing as he neared the church. It suddenly occurred to him that the music he played on his CD was accompanied by music and what he could hear was unaccompanied voices singing . He opened the door quietly and slowly and as he did so the music stopped. The church was empty.
Somethings can’t be explained, it seems this area has a few stories to tell regarding unseen forces at work the door has three Daisy Wheels carved into it
Daisy Wheels are symbols used to protect from evil, witches and to bring good luck. They date from around the fifteenth century and were often incorporated into the structure of the building by craftsmen. The reasons behind the three Daisy Wheels on the door are lost now but what ever prompted three – a symbolic number itself was something very significant to the local people who must have had very good reason to fear some force unseen around the church.
Portals /Doorways have always had a special significance . Here at Llangar the doorway has evidence for the sharpening axes and swords and possibly sickles and arrowheads. Churches weren’t solely for the worship of God they were meeting places for social gatherings, sometimes places of refuge and the focus of the local communities to gather and exchange gossip and strike deals .
This is a magical place with a sad foundation legend concerning a white deer . The name is said to have originated from the events surrounding the hunting of the deer in order to find a suitable location for a new church, hence Llann-Garw-Gwyn the church of the white deer. Part of the story is told in the wall paintings along the church walls
According to Elias Owen in his Welsh Folklore a Collection of the Folk-Tales and legends of North Wales 1887 ‘the tradition is that Llangar Church was to have been built near the spot where the Cynwyd Bridge crosses the Dee. Indeed we are told that the masons set to work but all the stones they laid in the day were gone during the night none knew wither. The builders were warned , supernaturally , that they must seek a spot where on hunting a ‘Carw Gwyn /White Stag would be started . They did so and Llangar is the result . from this circumstance the church was called llan-Garw-gwyn and from this name the transition to Llangar is easy ( taken from the gossiping Guide to Wales p128)
I find in a document written by the rural Dean for the guidance of the Bishop of St.Asaph in 1729, that the stag was startled in a thicket where the church of Llangar now stands . And the (as the tradition is) the boundaries of the parish were settled for ’em by this poor deer where he was forc’d to run for his life , there lye their bounds . He at last fell and the place where he was killed is to this day called Moel y Lladdfa or the Hill of Slaughter ‘
Whether this story has any basis in reality we can never know and on this occasion I hope not !
No visit to All Saints Llangar is complete with just standing and soaking up the atmosphere around and within this beautiful church . The location is lovely and the interior of the church a wonder with it’s wall paintings, graffiti , and windows
.Why not sit a while in the upper gallery and give some thought to the white deer , the singing voices and the Daisy Wheel and who knows what you might see and hear …