Pembrokeshire Secrets - St Govans Chapel
Shhh. Want to know some secrets about Pembrokeshire?
Pembrokeshire, in case you weren’t aware, has many secret and amazing locations.
Many of us working here at Bluestone National Park Resort were born and bred in Pembrokeshire and have had the pleasure throughout our lives to visit many of these locations to take in their wonder and beauty.
Each week, through this blog, we’ll let you into some of these secret places through the eyes of different members of the team. Bringing an insight into their special places, what they mean to them and how you can enjoy them too while staying on holiday in Pembrokeshire. Just don’t tell anyone else.
Our first post is by Glenn Hewer, a member of our marketing team who gets out and about around Pembrokeshire as often as he can.
A chapel with a stunning view
Let us take you to St Govan’s Chapel, perched on the coast in south Pembrokeshire near Bosherston.
A an amazing wonder and definitely a place for your Pembroleshire Bucket List.
Saint Govan was a hermit who lived in the area. The chapel named after him was built in the fissure in the 14th century on what is now known as St Govan's Head.
Over the years we have heard many stories based around this little chapel and St Govan such as how Govan was an Irish monk who travelled to Wales late in life to seek the friends and family of ab abbot who had trained him, variously identified as Saint David or Saint Ailbe of Emly.
We have also heard stories that identify Govan with Gawain, one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, and another that he was originally a thief.
One of my favourite stories tells how Govan was set upon by pirates from Ireland or the nearby Islands.
The cliff opened up and left a fissure just big enough for him to hide in until the pirates left. In gratitude, he decided to stay on along the cliff, probably to help warn the locals of the impending pirate attack if they should return.
St Govan lived within a small cave in the fissure of the cliff. This is now reached by a long flight of stone steps of which I have heard the tale from many people vary depending on whether one is ascending or descending.
The present small vaulted chapel of local limestone was built over the cave and dates from the 13th century although the site may have been of monastic importance since the 5th century.
Originally St Govan caught fish and took water from two nearby springs both of which are now dry. One of the wells was where the medieval chapel now stands and the other was lower down the cliff that later became a holy well.
Legends would say St Govan's hand prints are imprinted on the floor of his cave and that if you can turn around three times in the gap in the rock wall inside the chapel you can make a wish.
To reach to St Govan’s Chapel head to Stackpole, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire SA71 5DP.
You will have to pass through the Ministry of Defence’s Castle Martin firing range. The road can often be closed during training exercises.