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Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Thursday, 29 July 2010 16:08 UK
Cash boost to restore Tudor dynasty church on Anglesey

Tudor rose on church window
The church hasn't changed much since the Tudur family worshipped there

The Tudor dynasty's Anglesey family church is to receive a grant for vital restoration work from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Parts of St Gredifael's Church in Penmynydd date back to the 12th century, but the years have taken their toll on its roof, windows and doors, so the £78,000 from the Assembly's historic buildings fund will be very welcome.

"We've been enthusiastic in trying to save the building," said the Rev Philip Hughes. "We estimate we will need about £250,000 in all, so this will go a long way towards helping us start with the most urgent work."

Inside St Gredifael's is the tomb of Gronw Tudur, the great-uncle of Henry VII.

"There were five brothers at nearby Penmynydd [estate]," explained local historian, Tom Clifton.

"One was Gronw, whose effigy is on the oldest tomb at the church, and another was Meredudd.

"He had a son, Owain Tudur, who joined Henry V's army and became a member of the court circle."

Gronw Fychan (tudur)'s tomb
Gronw's effigy is on his tomb in the church's north chapel

When Henry V died, Owain secretly married his widow, who was also the daughter of the King of France. They had two sons.

When the marriage came to light Owain was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He escaped, but was recaptured near Hereford and executed.

His grandson Henry returned from exile in France and, with some support from Wales, defeated Richard III at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 and founded the Tudor royal line.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Penmynydd Tudur family still on Anglesey lost much of their land when they supported Owain Glyndwr in his failed uprisings against the English, although the family home still stands today.

The current church dates back to the heyday of the family in the 1400s, although the land would have been consecrated back in the 6th century by Gredifael, the son of a Breton migrant who came as part of a large influx of Christians.

St Gredifael and his brothers gave their names to several local churches and villages.

"There was St Tanwg of Llandanwg, St Twrog of Bodwrog, St Tegai of Llandegai, St Trillo of Llandrillo yn Rhos (Rhos-on-Sea) and a sister, St Llechid of Llanllechid," said Tom, who's currently compiling information on all the saints who've given their names to churches in the Bangor diocese.

St Gredifael's Church
The original cell of St Gredifael would have been made of wattle and daub

"It was formerly believed that if a person who was subject to fits lay for a night on Bedd Gredifael (his shrine), he would be cured of them.

"There was a well called Ffynnon Redifael which was in Cae Gredifael, near to the church where its water is said to have cured warts."

Fortnightly services are still held in the church and Tom is very glad it's going to be saved.

"There are far too many important old churches being closed," he said. "This is one of the reasons why I'm doing the work on their origins.

"It's very important that history is maintained because we live in a sceptical society and need to have credible history to fall back on for the sake of future generations."




SEE ALSO
Grants for 24 historic buildings
27 Jul 10 |  South West Wales
Hidden Houses of Wales on Anglesey
19 Jan 10 |  TV & Radio

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