Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Eglwys bach y mor

St Cwyfan's Church lies perched on the small isle of Cribinau just off the coast of Anglesey near Aberffraw in North-west Wales.

Known popularly as 'eglwys bach y mor' (the church in the sea) it was built in the twelfth century (and substantially rebuilt in the fourteenth century) but has been much altered over the centuries. It is reached by walking across the causeway, and the island is usually cut off by the sea for around four hours each day.

When the church was built, the land was still connected to the mainland (as can be seen from the map John Speed made in 1636), but has been eroded over many hundreds of years.

A new church was built a mile inland in 1871 (St Mary) and the old church fell into decay. By the end of the nineteenth century, the church was in danger of being lost altogether: some of the graves had begun to fall into the sea and the building had lost its roof. We owe it to architect Harold Hughes that the present seawall was built around the island and that it was restored in 1893.

If you look at some of the photos you will find on line, you'll see that the church has in recent years been limewashed as it would have been at the time it was built.

The inside is very simple and the north wall shows signs of the north aisle and arcade added in the sixteenth century; this was demolished in the early nineteenth century as the sea eroded the island.

As can be seen, it was a grey August day when I visited the church. I was very fortunate that the church warden was on site that afternoon and so was able to gain access. Potential visitors should note that it is normally locked.

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