Our Chris­tian Her­itage

Evergreen - - Contents - An­dria Massey

Sit­u­ated in a tran­quil lo­ca­tion on the east­ern tip of An­gle­sey are a group of his­toric build­ings which in­clude the site of a monastery dat­ing back to St. Seiriol in the 6th cen­tury. Orig­i­nally there was a wooden church which pros­pered un­til it was de­stroyed by the Vik­ings in 971. Dur­ing the 12th cen­tury the abbey church was re­built in stone by Gruffydd ap Cy­nan and Owain Gwynedd and it is still used to­day as a par­ish church.

Cru­ci­form in ar­range­ment, the nave was com­pleted in 1140, fol­lowed by the transepts and tower be­tween 1160 and 1170, with the chan­cel added be­tween 1220 and 1240 dur­ing the rule of Lly­we­lyn the Great ( 1173- 1240). At this time the king per­suaded all the monas­ter­ies in North Wales to re­or­gan­ise un­der the Au­gus­tinian Or­der so a re­fec­tory, large din­ing hall, cel­lars and a dor­mi­tory were added dur­ing this pe­riod.

The monastery was dis­solved in 1537, how­ever, dur­ing the reign of Henry VIII, and the lands passed to the Bulke­leys of Beau­maris who built a perime­ter wall to en­close a deer park and also added a fine square- shaped dove­cote with a domed roof and a small cupola for the birds to fly in and out. In­side were 1,000 nest­ing boxes clev­erly ac­cessed via a cen­tral pil­lar with a re­volv­ing lad­der.

Pen­mon’s His­toric Mon­u­ments

The two crosses that flanked the en­trance to the early me­dieval monastery are now housed in the church, the larger one lo­cated in the nave and the smaller one in the south transept. The smaller of the two was also once used as a lin­tel for one of the re­fec­tory win­dows, when one of the arms was cut off for the pur­pose.

St. Seiriol’s Well is a spring which emerges from a cliff be­hind the church, reached by a path on which one passes the monas­tic fish pond. The roofed brick- built in­ner cham­ber dates from 1710, although the lower cour­ses and ante- cham­ber are thought to date from an ear­lier pe­riod.

St. Seiriol was a great friend of St. Cybi who founded a monastery at the other end of the is­land near Holy­head — Caer­gybi in Welsh. Ac­cord­ing to le­gend the two saints used to meet each other in the cen­tre of the is­land at Llan­er­chymedd. Be­cause St. Cybi walked from Holy­head fac­ing the rising sun in the morn­ing and the set­ting sun in the

evening, while St. Seiriol walked in the op­po­site direc­tions, with the sun at his back, they were called Cybi the Dark as a re­sult of his sun tan, and Seiriol the Fair.

St. Seiriol also es­tab­lished a com­mu­nity on Puf­fin Is­land, half a mile off­shore, which the Vik­ings named Pri­estholm. It con­tains a num­ber of monas­tic ru­ins in­clud­ing the tower of a 12th- cen­tury church where it is be­lieved St. Seiriol and King Mael­gwn Gwynedd were buried.

In a pub­li­ca­tion called Jour­ney through Wales writ­ten by Gerald of Wales in 1188, he de­scribed an ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal set­tle­ment on the is­land in­hab­ited by her­mits who lived by man­ual labour while serv­ing God. There was also a le­gend that when­ever there were prob­lems on the is­land, mice would eat their food. Who knows?

One of a num­ber of stained- glass win­dows in the 12th- cen­tury church at Pen­mon.

Viewed from Pen­mon Point, Puf­fin Is­land lies be­yond the light­house.

Pen­mon church and pri­ory, An­gle­sey.

Pen­mon church and pri­ory sil­hou­et­ted against the Me­nai Strait and Welsh main­land.

The holy well of St. Seiriol.

The dove­cote.

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