Sunday, February 04, 2007

St.Govan's Chapel

Mysterious St. Govan's Chapel deserves more visitors. Situated below steep cliffs at St. Govan's Head, South Pembrokeshire (called "the land of magic") it can be reached on the A477 coming west from Carmarthen, and six miles south of the town of Pembroke (via Bosherston) on the B4319. The chapel, unfortunately, is in that part of Castlemartin Peninsular used by the ministry of Defence as a firing range, and thus the visitor has to make sure the approach has been cleared. What he will find is a tiny stone-built chapel of uncertain age (estimates vary from the sixth to the 14th century) hidden in a narrow cleft in the cliff.

Inside the chapel is a stone altar, and a small cell in which St. Govan, a hermit from County Wexford, Ireland reportedly hid from pagan persecutors. The rock is said to have opened for the Saint and closed behind him; within the chapel, wishes are supposedly granted to one who can turn around without touching the sides. There is a also a well, now dry, formerly famous for curing eye and skin diseases.

Other legends concerning the chapel concern a huge boulder outside the sanctuary known as Bell Rock in which is hidden a silver bell, once stolen by pirates or Vikings, but recaptured by angels. To reach the chapel, one must descend a series of stone steps that mysteriously never number the same ascending as descending. The whole coast here forms part of the magnificent Pembrokeshire National Park

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