Eglwysfach is a small village south-west of Machynlleth on the road to Aberystwyth.
2013 was the centenary of the birth of R S Thomas. He was vicar of Saint Michael’s church, Eglwysfach between 1954 and 1967. His poetry grapples with his understanding of twentieth century Wales, personal and national identity, politics, culture and spirituality. R S Thomas drew inspiration from the Welsh landscape and people, and the often harsh lives of farm labourers, epitomised by his main protagonist, Iago Prydderch.
Often described as being rather an austere and formidable character, R S Thomas was known for his fierce temper and a dislike of modern comfort and convenience; he chose to live in an unheated cottage, allegedly rejected gadgets like the vacuum cleaner because it was ‘too noisy’ and generally disapproved of modern western materialism. With his wife, the artist Elsi Eldridge, R S Thomas radically transformed the interior of St Michael’s church in Eglwysfach, painting the pews and pulpit a severe black.