Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd or “the church St Peter in the Vale of Clwyd” in English. The present parish church of St. Peter, alongside the A494, was dedicated in 1863 and is part of the Deanery of Dyffryn Clwyd in the Diocese of St Asaph. In 1831 the parish had a population of 527, a number which fell to 285 by the time of the 1901 census. In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd like this:
LLANBEDR-DYFFRYN-CLWYD, a parish in Ruthin district, Denbigh; on the river Clwyd, under MoelFamman mountain, 2 miles NE of Ruthin r. station. It includes the townships of Bodelgar, Llwynedd, Rhiwia, and Treganol; and its Post town is Ruthin, Denbighshire. Acres, 2,900. Real property, £3,175. Pop., 431. Houses, 99. The property is divided among a few. Llanbedr Hall and Berth are chief residences. MoelFamman mountain has an altitude of 1,845 feet; and Moel-Veulli camp is at an altitude of 1,722 feet. The living is a rectory in the diocese of St. Asaph. Value, £415.* Patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph. The church was built in 1863. Charities, £15.
‘Old St Peter’s Church’ is a Grade 11 Listed building, listed as a ruinous medieval parish church. From the dawn of the Christian era in Wales this site has been the centre of worship and a focal point for the life of our village. Our spiritual identity and our cultural roots are here. The church and related settlement known as Llanbedr Uchaf are thought to have had a relationship with the Iron Age Forts running along the Clwydian Range. The first known record appears in “The Valuation of Norwich” in 1254 as Ecc’a de Lampedir. Then incorporated in the “Taxatio Ecclesiastica” (Pope Nicholas IV’s Taxation) in 1291 as Llanpetya.
Its fabric is of two main periods, the western half is probably early 13th century and the eastern rebuild or extension is 14th or 15th century. The bellcote was added in the early 19th century. In 1848 Joseph Ablett, who had owned Llanbedr Hall since 1804, died and left the hall to his step-nephew John Jesse. In the late 1850’s the churchyard was becoming full and it was formally closed by an Act of Parliament in 1859, except for the burials of spouses of those already buried. About this time John Jesse complained that at a funeral, he witnessed the disinterring of human remains from a previous burial. He resolved that he would not give additional land to enlarge the churchyard, but offered to build a new church with burial ground.
The new church was begun in 1863 and consecrated in September 1864. However John Jesse died in 1863 and is buried in the Old St. Peters Churchyard. Regular worship continued in the old church until 1864, after which it was only used for funerals and burials, which continued until 1905. Unfortunately the old church and graveyard became neglected and fell into disrepair. In 1896 it was recorded in the church minutes that it was in such a bad condition that the roof should be taken off and the walls on both sides reduced in height. This explains its current condition. In 1911 a Royal Commission Report on the condition of churches in Wales recorded “This abandoned and roofless building is a sad spectacle of indifference and neglect. The stonework of the east window is still fairly perfect”
In 1973 The Friends of Old St. Peters was formed to repair and conserve the church ruin and graveyard. The old St. Peters Church was not deconsecrated until 1991. Its ownership is now vested in the Representative Body of the Church in Wales. The restoration and maintenance works are now being continued by the Old St. Peter’s Conservation Committee which was formed in 2005. Notable Graves:
1616. Margaret Lloyd the sole heiress of John Lloyd of Plas Llanbedr (Llanbedr Hall) She married Richard Thelwall a younger son of the Bathavon Hall Thelwalls. So began the occupation of Llanbedr Hall by the Thelwalls until sold to Joseph Ablett in 1804.
1848. Joseph Ablett and 1854 Ann Ablett, former owners of Llanbedr Hall.
1863. John Jesse, the provider of the new church.