Bosherston – St Govan’s Chapel


   Most of the chapel preserved until today was built in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, but its part (altar, seats carved out of the rock) may come from the sixth century when a St Govan monk settled here. Legend has it that the pirates tried to catch him, but in the place of the present chapel a gap opened miraculously, in which Govan could hide. When the pirates sailed away, the rock opened in a miraculous way for the second time. Apart from tradition, Saint Govan founded a hermitage in this place, where he lived until his death in 586. With time, the place was recognized by the local people, as having miraculous power and gaining fame, became the goal of the pilgrims for whom the chapel was erected.


   The chapel was built in a narrow, rocky gorge by the seaside. Access to it led from the north, through a long series of about 52 stairs carved in the rock. It obtained the shape of a simple, aisleless structure made of limestone, with dimensions of 5.5 by 3.6 meters. In its eastern end there is a stone altar and stairs leading to a small cell carved in the rock. In the southern wall of the chapel there is a piscina, a small opening and the main window. A pointed entrance portal and a small recess or shelf are embedded in the northern wall. In addition, low stone benches were placed on the north and south sides. A passage leading to the beach was pierced through the western wall. The whole building was covered with a gable roof and a crude pointed vault.

Current state

   Located in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, on the cliff above the sea, the chapel of St. Govan is one of the most picturesque hermit seats in Great Britain. Not far from the chapel is a famous well, enjoying, like the chapel, the worship of local residents.

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Salter M., The old parish churches of South-West Wales, Malvern 2003.
The Royal Commission on The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions in Wales and Monmouthshire. An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, VII County of Pembroke, London 1925.

Website, St Govan’s chapel, Bosherston.
Website, St Govan’s Chapel.