EARLIER this month, a harvest festival was held at a Ceredigion church 133 years to the day when its service was mentioned in a local paper about being one of the first in the county.

St Cynllo’s Church in Llangynllo, Coed y Bryn, held its latest harvest festival on the weekend of Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15, with the church and congregation thanking all in the wider community who contributed, supported and donated to the weekend of events.

It was a special milestone after an article in the Carmarthen Journal on October 24, 1890, references the parish and church being what they believed to be the first harvest festival in Wales, with the article referencing the same date. The article read: “It is not many years ago when such things as Harvest Thanksgiving services were scarcely ever heard of, in some of the remote country parishes in Wales, and we think we are right in stating, that Llangunllo was one of the first to hold them in Cardiganshire.”

The article continues about the festival: “On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 14th and 15th inst., the beautiful church of Llangunllo “which is without exception one of the prettiest in the diocese” held its Harvest Festival services. The sacred edifice was most tastefully decorated with all manner of fruit, flowers, corn etc., by Miss Lloyd of Bronllwyd; Fraulein Maurer, Mrs Tyler, Miss Tyler, Miss Lily Tyler, Miss Daisy Tyler, Miss Alma Tyler and Miss Jones and Mr Wright, and Mr Adams, gardeners at Bronwydd and Gernos.”

Members of the church today highlight that the article referenced the houses of Bronwydd and Gernos stating that although the houses were lost from the landscape long ago, they will remain forever in the hearts and minds of those who worship at the church, particularly as it was these two families who were responsible for rebuilding such a beautiful church.

The medieval St Cynllo’s church was rebuilt and consecrated in 1875, the Lloyds of Bronwydd founded the Calvinist Methodist Capel Drindod at Aberbanc in 1795, and the Tylers of Mount Gernos contributed to the building fund of Bwlchygroes Congregational Chapel and provided the land for it to be built in 1833.

The Lloyds also provided a small mansion house called Cilrhiwiau on Bronwydd estate to be used by a local dissenting minister rent free, as recognition for the growing movement of non-conformism throughout the county.

In the article from 1890, there is reference to a ‘full choral’ services and a ‘surpliced choir.’ In 2023, St Cynllo’s can no longer boast the ‘surpliced choir’ but thanks to modern technology, were able to play the two hymns that the choir of 1890 performed – O Sing Unto the Lord and the Sevenfold Amen – at the beginning and close of the service, 133 years to the day of the referenced piece.

St Cynllo’s Church sends its heartfelt thanks to all those who attended the service.