The Shrine Church of Saint Melangell

The Shrine Church of Saint Melangell

A hidden place in Wales, where a Celtic saint gave her protection to the hare, Pennant Melangell is situated at the head of the Tanat Valley, not far from Llangynog on the main Oswes­try – Bala road.

This church is the only one which is dedicated to Melangell. It is an ancient church and the present stone building is over eight hundred years old but it has a wonderful modem story at­tached to it Until a few years ago it was in a dangerous state and there were plans to take off the roof and to allow it to become a ruin but the di­ocesan authorities and local support decided that this was not be. The re­sult is that the ancient church has been beautifully restored, the memory of Melangell has been rekindled and pilgrims once again are making their way to this hallowed site to enjoy the silence – because it is here and in places like this that people find as did Jacob that This is none other than the house of God; it is the gateway to heaven’.

For centuries the pilgrims came to Pennant Melangell because there was the shrine to Melangell and lying in the shrine were her relics. At the time of the Reformation this shrine was destroyed but pieces of it were used in the walls of the church, the porch and the lych gate. At the east end of the church was a small room which had been built in the 18th century; it was known as Cell-y-Bedd. Twenty five years ago archaeological excavations of the floor of this room revealed the slab over the grave of Melangell. Be­fore the restoration work of the last ten years was started further excava­tion revealed that the site had been a burial ground a thousand years before Melangell came to this sacred spot

The church has been restored, heating and lighting have been installed, the inside of the church has been re­ordered but the most wonderful thing is that the shrine of Melangell has been rebuilt from the fragments which have been taken from the church’s fabric. It has been built to its full height in what is thought to be its original position in the chancel of the church, behind the altar. Melangels grave slab has been reset in the floor of Cell-y-Bed.

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