HIDDEN TREASURERS OF WALES...
Wales is renown for the many historic castles, medieval abbeys and ancient churches that dominate its landscape. Of course, many of these have become popular tourist attractions and feature highly on a visitor’s itinerary. As for me, well, its the charm and unspoilt simplicity of the lesser known that I like, the little gems that can be found tucked away, off the beaten rack. And I feel fortunate that we are blessed with many such treasurers in the area where I live.
I have already written about our village church, and today, I’d like to show you pictures of another favourite of mine in the next village along the coast.
As the mountains roll down towards the sea, this beautiful church nestles comfortably into the hillside and on a clear day, as it was on Sunday, magnificent panoramic views embracing the whole of Cardigan Bay can be enjoyed.
The church dates back to the early sixteenth century, however, it stands upon the foundations of an earlier church built in the thirteenth century.
A striking feature of the church is the large porch with its heavy bell turret. Set in the wall inside the porch is a holy water stoup, these stoups are usually carved with ornate features, but this one is plain with the look of local naturally shaped rock. It was said at one time that the stoup miraculously filled itself, but it is now thought the phenomenon was probably caused by a roofing problem. Nice story though!
The churchyard, with its ancient gravestones is a serene scene. I read that in the period covered by the parish register - from 1618 over 2500 burials are recorded. This seems an amazing amount when you consider what a small patch of ground this is. Today, some 270 gravestones can be found, the oldest is dated 1696 and few date after 1842. The registers record burials from several wrecks off the coast as well as a number of unidentified bodies washed up on the beach below.
The cobbled pathway down to the lych gate is beautifully framed with shrubs and just inside the lych is a cattle grid to stop the free roaming sheep from entering.
Inside the church the natural light is dim, save for sunbeams shining through the ancient windows on this autumn afternoon. The church has no electricity supply and, on the very few services that are held here now, candles are used in the two chandeliers that are suspended from the roof trusses. On the wall, hangs a horse-bier (my picture is unfortunately quite blurred), this was used in the mountains for the easier transport of the dead from remote farms for burial. The floor, made of dark, roughly cut flags is uneven and care has to be taken when walking in the dim light. The pews still bear the inscription of the families and their farmsteads who once occupied them. The pulpit and the reading desk are plain, so too the alter, beautiful in its simplicity, is wooden with a slate top.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing in the reverence of this special place.
You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.
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