Sunday, 15 January 2012

St Govan's Chapel

We found this an amazing and spectacular place.  After I got home I researched a little about it and what I found follows below. 

From the cliff the descent to the chapel is by fifty-two steps, although legend tells us that the number of steps cannot be accurately recorded and are never the same going down as coming back up again.

Picturesque little hermits' chapel - near Bosherton, Pembrokeshire
The chapel was definitely here in the 11th century, and it could possibly date all the way back to the 6th century.

Legend says that pirates from either Lundy Island or Ireland tried to capture St Govan and that the fissure in the rock at St Govan's Chapel opened miraculously so he could hide there, closed over him, then opened miraculously for a second time once the pirates had left.

Small cave within the chapel depicted above, click to enlarge.

In gratitude St Govan remained in the area for the rest of his life and lived within a small cave in the cliff, until he died in 586. The present chapel of limestone was built over the cave and inside there are a few little steps that lead up to a small cell, which bears rib like markings.  Legend says they are the imprints of St Govan's body as he lay hidden in the fissure of the rock.

St Govan was thought to have taken water from two nearby springs. Both are now dry; one was where the medieval chapel now stands, the other, which was lower down the cliff, later became a holy well.

Another legend I found interesting states that King Arthur's knight Sir Gawain lies buried beneath the stone altar of the chapel.

Looking back towards St Govan's Chapel, now entirely hidden in the rock.
Go there if you get chance, it's really rather worth it.


Midlife Singlemum said...

I wonder if St Govan and sir Gewain were one and the same person? Cool place.

Rob-bear said...

Such a marvellous find, Lins! Thanks for sharing it. (Maybe I can hibernate there next year.)

Charlie said...

Brilliant post on St Govans and the weather looked perfect. Dave and I went there a couple of years ago in search of of it but went home disappointed after spending 2 hours walking back and forth along the cliffs looking ...Apparently it's not hard to find. Perhaps we're just a bit thick.

Lins' lleisio said...

It is a lovely, lovely place Midlife... Mr Bear - I'm positive it would be a lovely spot for you to hibernate. Very cosy indeed. Charlie we too didn't find it the first time, you are not alone. Though when you do get there (and get there you must) you'll wonder how on earth you missed it! Doh. :)

the veg artist said...

I remembered learning this in primary school, and thanks to the www, it was easy to find. Thought you might like it, if you've never come across it before. I've done the counting down the steps thing - they didn't match!


Saint Govan, he built him a cell
By the side of the Pembroke sea,
And there, as the crannied seagulls dwell,
In a tiny secret citadel,
He sighed for eternity.

Saint Govan, he built him a cell
Between the wild sky and the sea,
Where the sunsets redden the rolling swell
And brooding splendour has thrown her spell
On valley and moorland lea.

Saint Govan still lies in his cell,
But his soul, long since, is free,
And one may wonder and who can tell
If good Saint Govan likes heaven as well
As his cell by the sounding sea!

A G Prys-Jones

Lins' lleisio said...

I LOVE it The Veg Artist - such fitting words for the place. Thank you for taking the time to comment, especially as I hadn't heard it before. Wonderful.

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