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Letter from Llanfyllin

03 Mar 2024 6 minute read
The Golden Hour by Dan Llywelyn Hall

Dan Llywelyn Hall

It’s a town, not a village’, is the proud rebuke from townsfolk to the passers-by, stopping off in the hostelries. Granted by Tywysog Llywelyn ap Dafydd in 1293 and then with a stamp of approval by Henry V as a Market Town.

Named Llanfyllin and famed after the Irish Saint Moling who visited and conducted the first baptisms at Ffynnon St Myllin in the 6th Century (Myllin being Gymraeg for Moling by the way!).

Poised a short hop from the border it’s generally on the way to somewhere else… usually involving a hill walk, a down-hill bike track, a quad scramble or a heat pump installation.

I was blown-in four years ago on a ghost hunt for Owain Glyndwr who possibly bought his feasting swines from the market here in his glory days at Sycharth – in a valley just yonder.

Photo: A summer morning in Llanfyllin, looking down to the lime trees on Penybryn. c.1908 ‘A Golden Summer in Llanfyllin’ by Richard Kretchmer, 2023

My attraction to Llanfyllin was immediate. Nestled snug, between scenic gentle slopes carved by the Cain and Abel rivers, the wood fire perfumed air and a distinct sense of stepping back; one feels lucky to have arrived.

Its inhabitants slowly reveal themselves and, before long, you become aware of the sheer talent lurking behind those tall doorways of this very much listed town.

Rumour has it that CADW only caught up with its architectural glory in March of 1993 after the impending plague of PVC and bulldozers and gave out listings willy-nilly.

In our tiny town, surrounded by the fields of Its proud sheep and cattle farmers, we have in our midst at least one world-renowned harpist, soulful sopranos singing like linnets, a lepidopterist, a pair of numismatists, a plethora of parchs, jazz greats, artists-a-plenty and, all under the watchful eye of two historians who, with loving care have chronicled the by-gone faces in faded photos and the events that have shaped the world and our own folk in turn, embedding them in the mortar of generations.

‘View from the Window,’ Dan Llywelyn Hall, ink on paper, 2021

I’m lucky enough to live in a decommissioned chapel that we have made a studio and home. It had been on the market for a decade when we stopped on the Glyndwr expedition.

I now call on the echoes of the choirs and emotional highs and lows that linger in the walls, that I hope will charge atmosphere in my paintings; I am one for thinking our past and present can, in rare moments of clarity, overlap giving rise to timeless inspiration.

Chapel found its roots here with four at one point including Pendref – purportedly one of the earliest Independent Chapel in all of Wales, frequented by Ann Griffiths, poet and hymn writer.

Pendref, incidentally, was the focus of a riotous 3 days of destruction during the Jacobite Rising of 1715, instigated by Mr Pryce – whose family were just up from me at Plas Uchaf – once hosted King Charles 1st– another moment when Llanfyllin reluctantly brushed with the outside world.

Capel Moriah, Llanfyllin, 2021

In my brief occupancy of this town I have witnessed the rapid passing of an older generation that have been loving custodians to all the assets that make up the very idea of ‘community’; the word is bandied about these days and even used to describe anonymous – mostly pestering – Facebook groups.

However, I can tell you that the essence of it exists here in Llanfyllin – however fragile, Palpable. It doesn’t take much for a rally cry to muster the locals and make things happen.

‘A triple harp recital,’ Dan Llywelyn Hall. Oil on canvas, 2022. Inspired by the encounter between Nansi Richards and David Watkins.


The town relies on passing trade; for example, its three pubs host weekenders in the form of ‘Valley Runs’ – a local bus pub crawling the Tanat Valley – offering the promise of flocks of hardy drinkers who steal the odd poker, ornament or even toilet rolls as a prized souvenir, possibly similar to the rowdy Celts, Ptolemy once cited as “Mediolanum among the Ordovices” back in AD150…

We are entirely self-sufficient: A laundry, butcher, pharmacy, Post Office (adjunct to the Spar), and a bustling craft shop oozing with local honey and Cwrw Heb Enw.

Most recently, a Chinese restaurant bringing a sense of the exotic to the town and fine dining at our very own restaurant, Seeds (once the haunt of Jan Morris and Mavis Nicholson).

‘Swifts,’ wood engraving, Bob Guy


A short stroll down a single gauge pavement winds up at Y Dolydd – Llanfyllin’s Workhouse. A perfectly intact crucible cruciform  design by Thomas Penson standing like a fortress to the Poor Law, as you enter or leave the town.

It’s had a few incarnations since its days housing the destitute; an old folks’ home, outdoor pursuits and now a Charitable Trust with tenants ranging from the musicians, artists and artisans architects and vintage wear.

The place has its own rich history of characters with paranormal groups seeking their veiled whispers. Crafts Fairs, Carboot sales, Dance Nights and parades of horses rub alongside each other.

As a Trustee, I see the Workhouse’s role crucial to a testament as a community hub and centre of cultural activity that has a budding blossom.


Just lately, the town has been cited as a ‘gateway’ to the National Park with grants dangled, tempting progress.

As much as connectivity might make the town a bigger player in the story I am well aware the charm is in its sense of surprise discovery.

So often, I have met visitors: caravaners from the Midlands, bikers from Ireland, off-roading southerners, captured by a magic rooted in the town’s self-assured, sense of identity.

Dan Llywelyn Hall in Capel Moriah, by Bernard Mitchell.

Anyway, now wash off the oil paint, put leads on the Spaniels and back to the Old New Inn for a pint and to catch up on the latest… gossip spreads faster here than Wifi!

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

I like your work and your words. Llanfyllin is very dear to me but it has been a quarter of a century since I was last there. Every sentence plucked an emotional string with me. Is the cafe still there? Y Dolydd to the ‘new’ home, the pubs and the music, the people…sadly I’m guessing the generation you mention may include some friends of mine…should I pass I trust you would make me welcome…Bernard Barnes of Barmouth Church Hall is a must if you are that way…I really do like what I have seen of your work…

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