St Govan’s Chapel

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St Govan's Chapel, Pembrokeshire built above the hermitage cell in the 14th century.
St Govan's Chapel, Pembrokeshire built above the hermitage cell in the 14th century.

The chapel of St. Govan is a chapel Built into the side of a limestone cliff , located  in St. Govan’s Head in Pembrokeshire in southwest Wales, United Kingdom.
The building is built on the side of a limestone cliff, with measures 6.1 m x 3.7 m and walls built of limestone. The chapel consists of a single chamber.It was built mainly in the 13th century, although some of its remains date back to the 6th century, when the monk Saint Govan lived in a cave near the chapel, legend says St Govan’s hand prints are imprinted on the floor of his cave.St Govan was already an elderly man when he came to Pembrokeshire and
No hard evidence can be found of the founder of this chapel. St Govan was born of the Hy Cinnselach clan who lived in County Wexford in Ireland. Some authorities identify him as King Arthur’s Gawain, a legendary knight from the court of King Arthur. A legend identifies him as a repentant thief.  Another  legend tells that the saint journeyed to reach the family of St. David, the saint who trained him.

The St. Govan’s Chapel  is located within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Located on a cliff above the sea, it is about 1.6 km away from the nearest town of Bosherston.
The building was on the list of classified monuments of the United Kingdom with Grade I, note 2 on August 2, 1996. Currently, the building is located within the -Castlemartin Training Area-  East Firing Range, which limits access to the building since It can be closed to the public.
In August 1902 the Chapel was visited by King Edward Vll and Queen Alexandra, who expressed their delight at all that they saw.

Local legents :

  • The chapel is reached via a staircase cut into the limestone. According to popular legend, it is impossible to count the number of steps up and down and come to the same result.
  • The Wishing & Healing Well, In the floor near the main entrance there used to be a well ,The second of the healing wells of St Govan can be found below the chapel, halfway down to the shoreline.In past centuries pilgrims came here in the certainty that they would be cured off illnesses such as rheumatism, failing eyesight and lameness.
  • In another tale, Gofan is said to have escaped his life from robber pirates and for the rock to open before him, so that he could hide safely. He did so, and as a thank you for the miracle he dedicated his life to his God.
  • The Bell Rock , The name recalls another story; that Govan was given a silver bell, which was stolen by pirates. When Govan prayed for its return, angels retrieved the bell and placed it inside the rock for safety
  • legend states that King Arthur’s knight Sir Gawain lies buried beneath the stone altar of the chapel.According to legend Gawain became a hermit here after Arthur’s death. And on his own death was buried here at St Govan
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Attraction address:St Govan’s Head, Nr Bosherston, SA71 5DR Access : Coordinates: / 51.598611, -4.936667 / St Govan’s Chapel is located near Bosherston, South Pembrokeshire , The road to the St Govans passes through -Castlemartin Training Area- army tank range and is closed at certain times.
call to check if the range is open to the public: Pembroke Visitor Centre – 01437 776499

Activities : spot for a Sunday drive / Explore the the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park / sightseeing / photo opportunities / Hiking : The chapel is located on several popular coastal walks : The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail twists and turns its way through 186 miles of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in Britain.

Go next : Pembrokeshire Coast National Park / Bosherston /  Carmarthen: Merlin’s Birthplace / Abereiddy Blue Lagoon / Amroth village / Broad Haven / Manorbier / Town of Tenby

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