Nantlle Valley History



Capel y Bwlan

By William Jones: Presentation to the Cymanfa Ganu in Capel y Bwlan in 1974

Where is Bwlan? – This is a frequently asked question. It is the Calvinistic Methodist Church in the Llandwrog district. It is not far from the road that leads from Caernarfon to Pwllheli and to the right of the place where the wall of Plas Glynllifon begins.

Capel y Bwlan, Llandwrog
Image: Capel y Bwlan in Llandwrog

Another question asked regularly is what does the name mean? It is supposed to come from the small hill nearby in the shape of the type of round basket that was used to contain corn. The name was also applied to a leather strap used to carry a burden on the back. This is surely the origin of the local chapel’s name. It is not in the village but somewhat apart, and it is said that the reason for this was oppression by the aristocracy.

This commote is full of ancient history and resonates with names from the Mabinogion, Math son of Mathonwy. Yonder, to the right of the chapel is Caer Arianrhod and Dinas Dinlle where Lleu demonstrated to his mother his skill and thereby was given his name by her. To the right, across the side of the hill, are the remains of the old Rhedynog Monastery that had, according to tradition, a connection with Ystrad Fflur (Strata Florida). Around there is a piece of land called 'Tir yr hen lanciau' (‘land of the old bachelors’), and Hengwrt itself conveys the flavour of the Age of the Monasteries to us.

It is not the ‘Land of Nut-groves’, for the shore is not far with the sound of waves on the beach. It is a land of flowers - "A land of violets and posies, a land full of fruitfulness" and the bees singing their song as they gather honey in the woods and gardens around Glynllifon.

No-one knows how much song came from the lips of the ‘Old Bachelors’, but we know that song and praise is a tradition here and proof of this was heard on 8th December 1974 when a Cymanfa Ganu (Hymn-singing Festival) was held under the direction of Mr. Richie Thomas, talented and mellifluous tenor from Penmachno. The building was filled with local singers assembled together for two hours of sweet singing by the choir as well as solos by the director and the bass Mr Tal Griffith of Llithfaen, whose health deteriorated under the harsh conditions of the quarry.
A selection from this Cymanfa appear on this record. I believe that the voices, the tunes and the rich words which were sung so animatedly that night are worthy of hearing again as an echo of the Cymanfa in pleasant leisure.

It is a joy to present it to you, and I count it as a privilege.

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