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It might not look like much on the map, but there’s more to little Llanfyllin than meets the eye. Nestled among round green hills, its idyllic location makes a great first impression. Explore a little further and you’ll find a place that packs a hefty heritage and lively local community into a comparatively small package.

Size isn’t everything. Llanfyllin may be a small town with a population of just a couple of thousand people, but it packs in an impressive amount of personality. Extending from a compact central square, its handsome high street is lined with historic buildings home to a quirky selection of shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants. The town’s long heritage is reflected in its architecture, which runs from half-timbered medieval dwellings through to red-brick townhouses and Victorian shopfronts.


These reminders of the past are a backdrop to a town that’s very much alive in the 21st century. Over the years, Llanfyllin has built up a reputation as something of an artists’ enclave, with features like the striking contemporary ‘wind sculpture’ in the square and the collection of artisans’ studios in the old town Workhouse creating a buzzy, bohemian vibe.


Hard times

Sitting on the southern approach to town, Llanfyllin Workhouse (also known as Y Dolydd) is a unique combination of historical attraction, arts venue and community hub. Opened in 1840, this sprawling building once housed as many as 250 ‘paupers’ in stark and inhospitable conditions designed to make staying here as unpleasant as possible (think Oliver Twist and you’ll have a pretty good idea).


Families were separated, with children as young as seven being forced to live away from their parents, while able-bodied adults had to carry out gruelling (and largely pointless) tasks such as breaking rocks.


You can get a feel for what it must have been like to live here at the Workhouse History Centre – which tells the personal stories of some of the workhouse’s inmates through artefacts, historic documents and film – before exploring the building on a self-guided history trail.


Despite the weight of its past, Y Dolydd is no museum piece. It’s now a thriving part of the local community, serving as a venue for events including film screenings, theatre performances, music festivals, crafts fairs and car boot sales. It’s also home to a bunkhouse, workshops used by local artists and even a pirate-themed escape room. Much more fun than it was back in the 19th century.


Holy waters

Hidden away at the end of a lane on the north-eastern edge of town is St Myllin’s Well. This holy spring is said to have been used in the 6th century by an Irish monk – from whom Llanfyllin takes its name – to perform the UK’s first baptisms by immersion. Now sheltered beneath a stone arch added at an uncertain later date, it’s an atmospheric link back to Llanfyllin’s earliest history (though you’d struggle to submerge much more than a foot in it these days).


Nature calls

Go green at Llanfyllin’s northern edge, where community projects have intertwined the outdoors with town life. Cae Bodfach Community Garden is a public orchard planted with heritage fruit and apple trees (perfect for cider and perry loving Montgomeryshire), which serves as both a nature reserve and venue for environmentally friendly events.


You can also explore the River Cain Access Scheme, which links the town to the wildlife-rich riverbank by a series of raised wooden walkways. It’s also a top spot for picnics, so don’t forget to bring your sandwiches.


In the red

Built from the local red brick rather than the more traditional grey stone, Llanfyllin Church is an eye-catching presence in the centre of town. Thought to have been founded in the 7th century by Irish monk Myllin (of holy well fame), the current building largely dates from the early 1700s. Head inside and you can see the painted benefaction board from the time, which records the donations received to fund the church’s reconstruction. Among the donors is Queen Anne, who chipped in a generous £730 of the works’ £1,225 total cost.

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  • Bump in the night. As well as a historic attraction and community space, Llanfyllin’s sprawling 19th-century workhouse is a popular spot for paranormal investigators.  Ghost hunters can book out the onsite bunkhouse and spend the night roaming the dark corridors in search of spectral apparitions of former inmates. Just don’t forget to bring your torch.


  • Special branch. The Lonely Tree is a Llanfyllin legend. For almost 200 years, this solitary Scots pine stood on Green Hall Hill overlooking town, becoming a popular location for romantic rendezvous, marriage proposals and ash scatterings. When the tree was blown over during a storm in 2014 the locals sprang into action to save it, hauling tons of earth up the hill to prevent its roots from drying out. While these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, the tree still managed to win the 2014 Welsh Tree of the Year Award from its prone position.


  • By royal appointment. Llanfyllin was granted its town charter in 1293 by Welsh leader Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Alongside nearby Welshpool, it’s one of only two towns in the country to have received its charter from one of Wales’s native rulers.


  • French connection. During the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, Llanfyllin became an unlikely home for French prisoners of war. Nearly 150 were paroled here, including Captain Pierre Augeraud, who lived at the Council House on High Street (where there are still murals he painted on the walls during his incarceration). Augeraud’s enforced stay was the beginning of long association with Llanfyllin – he went on to marry a local woman and the couple’s great-grandson was buried in the town churchyard in 1917.


  • Well, well. Llanfyllin takes its name from St Myllin, an Irish monk who set up a monastery here in the 6th century. His monastery is long gone (though it’s thought that the present-day church stands on its former site), but you can still see the holy well where Myllin carried out baptisms. It’s the first place in Britain where baptisms by immersion were performed.

Image by Laela
Image by Annie Spratt


Here are a few things you won’t want to miss if you’re visiting Llanfyllin. You’re free to approach them in any order you choose, but we’ve tried to arrange them in a way that will help you get the most out of your time in town. If you don’t have a full day to spend exploring, just take your pick from the places that spark your curiosity.


Llanfyllin Workhouse

Also known as Y Dolydd, Llanfyllin Workhouse on the edge of town is a fascinating delve into the past. Rescued from ruin by community efforts, this sprawling 19th-century building offers a glimpse into the harsh reality of its former inmates.


Start off at the history centre to explore artefacts and personal stories of the unfortunate families who were housed here, before wandering through the hallways, yards and dormitories on a self-guided history trail. Alongside the history, modern-day Llanfyllin is also represented by local artists’ studios, a bunkhouse and even Roomination, a swashbuckling, pirate-themed escape room.


Explore the streets

Take a stroll through town to experience its lively selection of shops, cafés and pubs. As you go, keep an eye out for the blue plaques commemorating Llanfyllin’s historic stories – including tales of French prisoners held here during the Napoleonic wars.


Churches and chapels

The tower of St Myllin’s Church, with its colourful blue and gold clock, is an instantly recognisable Llanfyllin landmark. Founded in the 7th century, the current church largely dates from the early 1700s. It’s one of a number of striking places of worship you can find around town, including the early 20th-century Tabernacl Chapel and the 18th-century Pen Dref Welsh Independent Chapel.


Though all three buildings are extremely different in style and size, each is constructed from the distinctive red bricks that feature in so many of Llanfyllin’s historic buildings.


Cae Bodfach and River Cain

Get back to nature at Cae Bodfach Community Garden, an orchard and wildlife reserve alive with a mix of heritage fruit trees and bee-friendly wildflowers. Then head to the River Cain along a series of raised wooden walkways to spot some of the birds, plants and animals that thrive along its banks.


St Myllin’s Well

Take the walk up a narrow lane on the north-western edge of town to see the holy well where St Myllin performed baptisms in the 6th century, sheltered beneath a stone archway. According to legend, Myllin founded a monastery on the current site of the church and is believed to be buried beneath its altar.

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