St Govan’s chapel Pembrokeshire

A few weeks ago I had a fantastic holiday exploring parts of  Wales  and England. One of the  most amazing places I visited  was a tiny medieval chapel called St Govan’s chapel in Pembrokshire, Wales.

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St Govan’s Chapel Pembrokeshire Wales

St Govan’s chapel is located at the base of a cliff, a short distance from the village of Bosherston. The site  has an Irish connection as   Govan is  supposedly an Irish saint.

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Cliff top above St Govan’s church

The present chapel dates to c.  the 13th century and it may have been built on an earlier structure.  The chapel can be accessed from  the top of the cliff by climbing down a series of steep steps.

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Steps leading to St Govan’s chapel

The church is a small single single cell room built into a rock cleft  and it has  a vaulted ceiling.

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West wall of chapel

A stone altar  is built against the west wall and a number of steps lead into a small recess in the cliff face . Folk tradition says the marks of the saints ribs are visible  on the rock face (see plan church below). 1-Trip wales Galaxy S5 427

The interior of the church is very plain,  in the south wall there is a piscina  and a window.

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View out of window of the south wall.

Traces of plaster remain on the north wall.

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Plan of church taken site notice board

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East wall of chapel

Tradition holds that an Irish monk called St Govan founded a hermitage here in the 6th century. While sailing across the sea  he was attacked by pirates.  During his escape  the cliff opened up  enough for him to hide until the pirates left. In gratitude, he decided stay here and live as  hermit.  St Govan lived within a small cave in the cliff. The current church is thought to be built over the cave and the saint’s body is reputedly buried under the altar.

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Exterior of St Govan’s chapel showing the east and south walls

The chapel floor once had a holy well which has dried up. Below the church  are  the remains of a  second holy well also dedicated to the saint.   The spring is now dry. In the past pilgrims visited the site as the  waters of the wells were reputed to cure eye complaints.

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St Govan’s holy well

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View of chapel from holy well

The location of St Govan’s chapel is amazing and there are spectacular views of the sea and coastline. I really recommend a visit  it is a truly special place and I know you wont be disappointed as this site has really got a “whow factor” that you dont find too often.

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View of St Govan’s Bay from the holy well.

References

Site Notice Board.

http://www.pembrokeshirevirtualmuseum.co.uk/content.asp?nav=101,3530,3566,3569,3574

http://thejournalofantiquities.com/category/st-govans-chapel-at-bosherston-in-pembrokeshire/

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