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 is a simple, 5.3 x 3.8 meters structure, built of limestone. At its eastern end, there is an altar made of stone and stairs leading to a small cell carved in the rock. In the south wall of the chapel is a piscina, a small hole and the main window. In the north wall there is a primary, ogival entrance portal and a small recess or shelf. There are low benches on the north and south sides. The gable roof is a contemporary element. A long string of 52 stairs carved into the rock leads to the chapel.

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.

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