PENNANT MELANGELL PART 1 The Boundaries of the Parish of Pennant Melangell W. J. BRITNELL Today, the hamlet of Pennant Melangell (SJ 024264) falls within the community of Llangynog in the north-east tip of Montgomeryshire, the first element of the name having survived until 1987 to denote the Community of Pennant, a detached portion of the medieval ecclesiastical parish which encompassed Penybontfawr, four miles to the east of Pennant Melangell. As noted by Samuel Lewis in the 1880s, 'the parish is remarkable for the irregularity of its boundaries; some portions of it being separated from others by the intervention of the parishes of Llangynog, Llanrhaiadr, and Hirnant; and some houses included within its limits are situated in the market town of Oswestry'.1 Indeed, the extent of the parish in the late 19th century is poorly defined, and is even less certain further back in time. The parish evidently consisted of a number of dispersed portions well before the late medieval period, and although the reason for this irregularity remains obscure it may have its origins in scattered land-holdings, the sharing of upland summer grazing by several dispersed townships, and possibly the fragmentation of more extensive secular and ecclesiastical districts in the earlier medieval period. Until the division of northern and southern Powys in 1166, Pennant Melangell fell within Mochnant, a cantref formed by the combination the commotes of Mochnant Is Rhaeadr and Mochnant Uwch Rhaeadr (Mochnant, above and below the Rhaeadr), divided by Afon Rhaeadr (fig. 1. 1).2 The major clas church at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant fell at the centre of the cantref, on the dividing line between the two commotes, and had presumably formed the focus of an extensive ecclesiastical district dating from at least the 9th century (fig. 1.2).3 In the Norwich Taxation of c. 1254 the church (ecclesia) at Pennant fell within the deanery of Marchia, one of eight deaneries within the diocese of St Asaph, which took in most of the lordships of Whittington and Oswestry and the whole of Mochnant.4 Following the death of Gruffydd ap Madog Maelor in 1269, northern Powys, Powys Fadog, was subdivided into minor princedoms, the cantref of Mochnant being split into its two constituent commotes, the northern portion of which was to form part of the Marcher lordship of Chirk. The partition of the cantref cut the ecclesiastical parish of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in two, along the boundary which in the Act of Union of 1536 was to become formalised as the boundary between the counties of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire.5 In the Lincoln Taxation of c. 'S.Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, (London, 1883). 2M. Richards, Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units (Cardiff, 1969), 175, 296; note that the locations of Llangynog and Pennant have been inadvertently interchanged on Map 76 on p. 296. C.A.R. Radford & W.J. Hemp, The cross-slab at Llanrhaiadr-ym-Mochnant, Archaeologia Cambrensis 106 (1957), 109-16.; C.A.R. Radford & W.J. Hemp, Pennant Melangell: the church and the shrine, Archaeologia Cambrensis 108 (1959), 81; J.W. Evans, The early church in Denbighshire, Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions 35 (1986), 74. 4E.R. Morris, A valuation for Tenths in the Diocese of St Asaph c. 1253, Montgomeryshire Collections 21 (1 887), 33 1 338; D.R. Thomas, The History of the Diocese of St Asaph, vol. I, (2nd edn, Oswestry, 1908), 41; D. Pratt, St Asaph Diocese, 1254, Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions 42 (1993), 112. 5D. Pratt, Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochant's market charter, 1284, Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions 34 (1985), 80.
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