Thursday, October 04, 2007

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.











18 comments:

Kerri said...

Your photos are a real treat Marion. It's a fascinatingly beautiful old church, steeped in history! Those gravestones look ancient indeed.
I thoroughly enjoy the glimpses you share of your beautiful corner of the world. Did I tell you that my MIL's mother came from Wales? Somewhere near Holly Head I think. Did I spell that correctly, or is it Holy?

Betty said...

Dear Friend Marion,

I am so happy to see the church presented today in your blog and hear more of the history of it....Dean and Ronald were so appreciative of the prayer you said for them there....thank you.....

A very good picture of you and John....Take care....Betty

SusieQ said...

Thank you for sharing the story about this church and the wonderful photos as well. I truly enjoyed experiencing this sacred place through your writings.

You are fortunate to live in a land with such ancient historic sites.

Elzie said...

All these lovely pictures makes me long even more for Ireland. It seems to be a grande country. Hope you have a great weekend.
Love Elzie

Elzie said...

Ha, ha. I think I'm gone all lost in the world. Of course I ment Wales and not Ireland. Still wants to visit both places.
/Elzie

Michael Manning said...

What amazing stonework! I tried to imagine attending service there!!

Barbara said...

Is this the church that was featured on tv some little time ago do yu know. Looks the same.
What wonderful walks you can do and so near home. Helps stop you missing the Cotwolds I guess.

Susie said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and the history of this ancient church. Think of all the stories those walls could tell if only they could talk.
What a lovely picture of you and your husband, Marion!
xo

Alice said...

One of the things we loved most about the UK was finding Churches tucked away in unexpected places, but I don't think we ever found one as old as this.

The depth of walls is amazing - absolutely no chance of it being blown away by the Cardigan Bay winds.

It's fascinating just to think back over all the congregations who have worshipped in that little Church, and now lie in its churchyard.

Thank you for this little visit, Marion.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Wales have many beautiful sights and buildings. Thanks for showing your pics of that lovely old church and churchyard. When I'm on a holiday I always visit a church and churchyard or two. I like the calm and history they exude.

Beverly said...

In all its simplicity this is very beautiful and you are very fortunate to live so near. God bless!

Betty said...

Dear Friend Marion,
I am unable to get into my emails..but I can access blogs so this is the only way I can communicate with you tonight...

I'm hoping that I have a long one from you when I can read them...this is not a comment.....

We had a wonderful day at Red Hatters and I thought of you....have you found a red hat? When you do please send me a picture......

After running by the grocery, I came home and cooked. Edward and I carried the food to Tifton about 20 miles away....later to the funeral home and by to check on my friend Roselyn...it's her brother in law that is deceased. We'll carry her to the funeral tomorrow.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend...the weather is still hot here and dry.....I need to work outside but haven't had time. I am slowly sorting and discarding for the yard sale. I have much more to do....

Just wanted to say hello.....Love to you......Betty

Willow said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely old church. There are many features that remind me of the California mission churches founded by Franciscan Father Junipero Serra in the 1700s.

Sara said...

Thank you for the tour of this lovely little church, and all the good information about it and its location. I love those flagstones on the floor, and the gracefully arranged fuchsias in the vase on the altar. Someone must care about the church to have put those there, even if it is not used much anymore for services. And what a setting, overlooking the bay like that! I would love to visit and pray in that place.

It's a FLIP-FLOP World said...

I always learn so much from your blog. Maybe that is one of the reasons that i love it and always miss you when you do not blog!! This is quite a wonderful church! I really enjoyed reading about it and seeing all of your wonderful pictures. i saved the one of you and John. He has his eyes closed but it is still a good picture!! Thanks so much!! You have a lovely country. How old is WAles? Do you have any idea? Sandy

Cindy Swanson said...

How lovely, Marion! Your pictures reinforce my yearning to visit Wales. I used to say my dream was to visit England, Ireland and Scotland...now I know that I would have to add Wale to that list.

Barbara said...

You are really fortunate to live near so many wonderful, interesting and old sites. Your lovely photographs remind me very much of places we saw in Ireland. I love old churches (well, churches in general). It was a pleasure to read about this very special place you visited!
Have a nice day!
Barbara

Mountain Mama said...

Hello Marion. I found you at Susie's. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the pictures. I have been doing my family genealogy for many years, and when I see pictures of places my ancestors have lived or may have lived it's very special.
I am adding you to my links and I'll be back
Thank you,
Bev