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Wales > Ancient Churches >  Penmon Priory, St Seiriol's Well, and Dovecote

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Penmon Priory is located on the eastern most tip of Anglesey, where the Menai Strait returns Penmon Prioryto the Irish Sea. The Priory sits comfortably in a pastoral location close to the banks of the Menai Strait clustered together with St Seiriol's Church, the Dovecote, and the ancient Holy Well of St Seiriol.

The monastery was founded by the 6th Century celtic Saint, Seiriol, but Viking raids have destroyed the remains of the original structure. There are however two stone celtic crosses that date from around 900 to 1000 A.D. housed within the present church. and although now protected from the elements the years have taken their toll on the ancient stone carvings.

Several parts of the building are in the care of Cadw and are free to visit. Information boards explain the history of the priory.

The church and the conical tower were built in the middle of the 12th Century under the authority of Gruffudd ap Cynan and Owain Gwynedd, and it remains to this day as the finest example of a 12th Century church in Gwynedd. A new chancel with richly carved arches and pillars was added in the 13th Century. and Penmon became an Augustinian Priory during the reign of Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth.

The dilapidated three storey stone buildings to the south of the church contained the monks' dining hall Dovecote at Penmon Prioryand dormitory and, although roofless, the building is still an  impressive structure to this day. A doorway at ground level gives access to a cellar, but with the lack of floors the whole of the building is visible on entry, including beam holes for the floors and the remains of the large refectory windows. Adjacent to the doorway is a 12th Century gravestone that had been used as the door lintel for many years.

The priory survived the Edwardian conquest before it's eventual dissolution in 1538, and passed into the ownership of the Bulkeleys of Beaumaris. The Bulkeleys constructed the Dovecote and enclosed much of the land as a deer park.

Considerable renovations were carried out to the priory in the 19th Century but the atmosphere of early Christianity still pervades the interior.

Personally I find the 16th Century Dovecote the most impressive building. Built to house a thousand birds it starts off at ground level as a square structure and as it rises the stones cantilever to form an impressive vaulted ceiling and domed roof. All the while the internal walls are pocketed with a thousand niches to house the birds.

Adjacent to the Dovecote is the pathway to the Holy Well of St Seiriol. Pilgrims from medieval times to the present day visit this beautiful location to take the "healing waters". The path leads past the rather St Seiriol's Well at Penmonovergrown monastic fishpond, popular with a family of moorhens, to an ancient grove. The Well springs from below a limestone outcrop and is housed within a roofed chamber. The chamber is dated from the early 18th Century but the stone seats in the open antechamber may be earlier. The well has long been associated with healing qualities and there are remains of an ancient dwelling located next to the well. Historians however doubt this structure would have been Seiriol's 6th Century hermitage ....... but what do they know?

Whether the Holy Well has healing properties or not Penmon is a lovely place to visit and the setting of St Seiriol's Well alone is enough to lift anybodies spirits.

Location : From Beaumaris (the castle end) take the B5109 north for 1.7 miles, turn right at a T junction and continue along the lane to the priory car park. There are fantastic views of the Menai Strait with the hills of Snowdonia as a delightful backdrop. Parking is free outside the priory (as of 2007) but there is an option to travel further, on the toll road, toward the point and Puffin Island for a small fee (£2.00 as of 2007). The church is open throughout the day, all year.


Please click on the pictures for enlarged pictures of Penmon Priory. © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings

Dovecote from the Priory gardens
St Seiriol's Well and ruins of an ancient site
View of Dovecote from the Priory gardens
St Seiriol's Well and ruins of an ancient site
Penmon Dovecote Interior
Interior of the Well chamber at Penmon
Penmon Dovecote Interior
Interior of the Well chamber at Penmon
Penmon Priory gardens entrance
Penmon stained glass window
Penmon Priory Church gardens entrance
Penmon stained glass window
St Seriol's Church Interior
Nice tree at Penmon
St Seiriol's Church Interior
Nice tree at Penmon
Celtic stone cross at Penmon Priory
Another Celtic stone cross at Penmon Priory
Celtic stone cross at Penmon Priory
Another Celtic stone cross at Penmon

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