St Mary’s Church Llanfair is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and possibly there was a church on this spot previous to its dedication in the twelfth century. We know from Gerald Cambrensis,’s Itinerary on his tour to preach the crusades through the principality,that it was known as Llanfair when he and archbishop Baldwin stayed the night here in the spring of 1188.
The church is rectangular in plan with a modern vestry where once an older chapel stood, the foundations of which can be traced in the churchyard.
The earliest records tell us that Reginald Beauchamp was rector of Llanfair from 1423-1425 and the earliest decipherable gravestone in the churchyard is dated 1666, and the first entry in the Llanfair Register was in 1695.
On display in the church is a large noticeboard naming all the rectors of Llanfair up to present day.
The church contains mural tablets to the memory of the Owens of Crafnant,who were decended from Cynfyn, Prince of Powys. The first commemorative tablet reads “John ap Llywelyn fachan, eldest son and heir of Llywelyn Fachan , died 1520”.
In 1711 Rev Ellis Wynne became rector of the church. He lived at the family home of Las Ynys. He was educated at Jesus College Oxford where his concern for the state of the nation persuaded him to be ordained. He was famous as the author of the classic “Gweledigaethau’r Bardd Cwsg” (Visions of the Sleeping Bard). When he died in 1734 he was buried in St Mary’s church and subsequently a beautiful stained glass window was given in his memory by the church choir.
Legend has it that Mary the mother of Jesus visited the Wales, landing at Llanfair, where a church was dedicated to her. It is said that she “walked to Hafod -y -Llyn, a small lake above the village, and knelt by the roadside on the way to drink from a stream. Marks were then seen to be impressed into the rock on which she knelt and a spring of pure water appeared which possessed miraculous healing powers. On reaching the the lake, she and the maidens with her, bathed in it and always after this water lilies grew”. (The Lakes of Wales, Frank Ward)