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Llanddewi Aberarth church

Perched 313 feet above sea level, Llanddewi Aberarth Church is situated about half a mile south of the village, on the brow of a hill overlooking Cardigan Bay.
It is approximately 600 yards from the sea shore and is very exposed to both sea and storm.

The Welsh word Llan, implying an early Christian enclosure, followed by the name of the Saint, suggests that it is very old.

A church site since the 9th century

Hogsback stone

Three stones lie in the porch. Two of them bear key-shaped markings on a diagonal pattern, one with inscriptions on its side. Experts believe these are good examples of 9th century Christian art. The other stone is a hogsback design, of Viking origin and dates from the 10th century. It is the only hogsback stone recorded in Wales.

In 1832 the Rev. Thomas Thomas, was incumbent at Aberarth and also at Aberporth, where he resided. A curate lived within a mile of Aberarth Church. The services provided at the time were: a sermon once on the Lord's Day, a monthly sacrament, a service and sermon on Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Ascension Day, together with baptisms, marriages, and funeral services as required.

Devastating developments

Aberarth Church was the parish church of the united benefice, but in 1838 a new chapel was built at Aberaeron called Trinity Chapel, where English services were held on Sunday mornings. Although this closed in 1872, it was replaced by the new  Holy Trinity Church  as a kind of chapel-of-ease for Henfynyw.

As Aberaeron prospered, it became necessary to consider the detachment of part of the parish of Llanddewi Aberarth and to attach it to  Henfynyw, and thus to Holy Trinity Church. The Bishop of St. David's drew up a scheme, under the Pluralities Act of 1838, to separate from Aberarth that portion of the parish of Llanddewi Aberarth which lay within the limits of the Urban District of Aberaeron and to annex it to  Henfynyw. He had to consult the incumbents concerned, but the curacy of Aberarth was vacant at the time and no opinion could be obtained from that quarter.

The Rev. Evan Evans, perpetual curate of Henfynyw, agreed with the Bishop's plan. The scheme was approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury and an order was signed by the King on 19 July 1910. This took a very substantial proportion of the congregation, membership, capital and some income from Aberarth Church to Aberaeron.

This was devastating for Aberarth but was inevitable due to the growth and prosperity of Aberaeron. It culminated in the grouping of Llanddewi Aberarth and  Henfynyw  churches with Aberaeron on 10 March 1959.

The Church buildings

Llanddewi Aberarth interior

The church building consists of a tower, nave and chancel. The tower, which is 60 ft. high, is almost certainly a mediaeval building.

1837 - 1876 the church and buildings were rebuilt, with the exception of the tower; the school house in 1837, the churchyard wall in 1859, the nave and chancel in 1860, the coach house and stable in 1862, and the parsonage in 1875-6.

The font is of white bathstone with marble shaft and was erected in 1888. The magnificent east window was presented by the Rev. Aldred Williams, in 1948. The altar and altar rail were given to the church in 1968.

Sunday School

In 1739-40 the first school was set up in Aberarth Church and had 87 scholars. It was one of the circulating Welsh charity schools. The idea was to set up a school with the favour and sympathy of the parish clergyman and would usually be held in the church. They were established to teach young and old to read the Bible in their own language with a key to the future salvation of their souls through enabling them to read the scriptures. Students' text books were the Bible and the Catechism.

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