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St Govan's Well and Chapel

Sacred Well


Some rock-related folklore for the spot. 'Ringing' rocks aren't an unusual motif?
The following legend is current in Pembrokeshire. On the south-west coast of Pembrokeshire is situated a little chapel, called St. Goven's, from the saint who is supposed to have built it, and lived in a cell excavated in the rock at its east end, but little larger than sufficient to admit the body of the holy man. The chapel, though small, quite closes the pass between the rock-strewn cove and the high lands above, from which it is approached by a a long and steep flight of stone steps; in its open belfry hung a beautifully-formed silver bell. Between it and the sea, and near high-water mark, is a well of pure water, often sought by sailors, who were always received and attended to by the good saint.
Many centuries ago, at the close of a calm summer evening, a boat entered the cove, urged by a crew with piratical intent, who, regardless alike of the sanctity of the spot, and of the hospitality of its inhabitant, determined to possess themselves of the bell. They succeeded in detaching it from the chapel and conveying it to their boat, but they had no sooner left the shore than a violent storm suddenly raged, the boat was wrecked, and the pirates found a watery grave; at the same moment by some mysterious agency the silver bell was borne away, and entombed in a large and massive stone on the brink of the well. And still, when the stone is struck, the silver tones of the bell are heard softly lamenting its long imprisonment, and sweetly bemoaning the hope of freedom long deferred.
Originally in Vol xii, p201, this was included on p257 of 'Choice Notes from Notes and Queries - Folklore', 1859.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th February 2007ce
Edited 18th February 2007ce

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