Saint Govan’s chapel

by | Sep 30, 2020 | Beachcombing

So the 5-mile lock-down had just been released and we were itching to get back to the beach. Having not been to the beach since March we were excited to make new discoveries. We are not your usual beach visitors, the ones that sit on the beach catching a tan while the kids play, eating sandy sandwiches. We like to go exploring and seeing what we can find.

We have explored most of the beaches in and around south wales so we were looking for something a bit different, we pin picked a place on the map and headed for Pembrokeshire. Manorbier Beach was the first beach we arrived at, as beaches go it’s quite a pleasant-looking pebble beach with a stream that runs down onto the beach.

I imagine it gets quite busy there during the summer months as it seemed to be quite popular with families, we took a quick look but decided to move onto the next one. As we were leaving we offered our parking ticket to someone who had just arrived, he mentioned that one of his group was a local who could maybe point us in the direction of somewhere to go exploring. He mentioned a place about 20 minutes up the coast called Saint Govan’s Chapel.

We drove up the coast spotting beaches as we went, there are some beautiful beaches in Pembrokeshire and the views are absolutely amazing. Eventually, we came to Saint Govan’s Chapel and I can tell you for us it was definitely worth the trip.

Location

Saint Govan’s chapel is located at

St Govan’s Head

Bosherston

Pembrokeshire

SA71 5DR

The chapel is on a local army gun range so it is important you adhere to the signs, you may even hear some gun fire in the distance like we did.

The chapel

The chapel itself is nestled in the cliff at the bottom of some steep and slippery steps, you have to enter the chapel to come out the other side. There isn’t really any beach area here beyond the steps as it is mostly rocky, there was what looked like caves to explore but having seen two people slip on the way across we decided against wandering any further.

Legend has it that there are more steps going down to the chapel than there are going back up, we didn’t read about this though until after our visit, so have a go count them for yourselves and let us know if the legend is actually true. The view at the top of the steps is quite spectacular, looking down on the chapel and out to sea framed by the surrounding cliffs either side, it really is something quite special.

Who is Saint Govan?

Saint Govan is said to be a 6th century Irish monk or abbot, there are many stories that have been handed down over the years about who he really was, some say he is not actually he but she and then there are others who say the name Govan is actually Gawain but it is not entirely clear.

Hiding in the rocks

St Govans Chapel

The legend has it that Govan was running away from someone and had hidden himself away in the rocks, the rocks were said to have closed like a cocoon surrounding him so that he wouldn’t be discovered.

Another story is that he was hiding out from pirates who wanted to steal the bell he used as a call to prayer, and the final one was that pirates had planned to kidnap him and hold him for ransom so he hid away in the rocks. Whatever the reason the monk decided to stay put and the tiny 18×12 chapel became his home.

Chapel wells

There are two wells at St Govan one inside and one outside, both long dried up but one of them is said to have had healing properties and people would come from miles around to pay pilgrimage to experience those healing properties.

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