Penmon Priory, Historic Anglesey Site
Penmon is an Anglesey village with a rich history stretching back to the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.
Situated on the eastern tip of Anglesey, Penmon is home to a former Augustinian monastery and an early 17th century dovecote.
We took the A55 road from Holyhead, heading east and eager to discover more about this fascinating village on the quiet Anglesey coast, with Puffin Island just a stone's through away.
It has links to Viking invaders, ancient Kings of Wales and the early Christian Church.
Penmon Priory, Anglesey
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Just before reaching the Britannia Bridge we took the junction for Menai Bridge and Beaumaris. At this moment we thought about St seiriol, the Celtic saint who founded the monastery at Penmon in the 6th century.
Well, he was a good friend of St Cybi, who founded a monastery in the fort of Holyhead, then a sleepy little fishing settlement, in about 540 AD.
You see, unlike us, they had no car, no e-mail and no telephone. So instead they arranged to walk across the island,meeting about halfway.
As St Seiriol left his monastery heading westward, the morning sun was on his back hence Seiriol Wyn (Pale Seiriol). While St Cybi or Cybi Felyn (Golden Cybi) walked eastward, he had the sun in his face.
They met in the middle of the island and did what monks do when they meet, and then set off back home again. So St Seiriol now still had the sun, setting in the west, on his back for his homeward trek.
How fortunate we are today, to have tarmac, oil and the internal combustion engine!
We know that St Seiriol was buried on the nearby Puffin Island , just off the strong tidal waters of at Trwyn Du (or Puffin Sound)
Penmon Priory Church
The church at Penmon is dedicated to St Seiriol, founder of the original monastery, and an old 6th century cell in the rock can be found nearby, where a well exists to this day.
Any visitor to this spot will notice how peaceful it is, and with magnificent coastal and mountain views to enhance the earthy experience.
We first entered an imposing stone built building, probably dating back to the 13th century. It is believed that this structure was the Dining Hall used by Augustinian monks.
Below the 1st floor Dining Hall (Refectory) was the cellar below. There is another smaller unit next door which was probably used as a kitchen and added later in the 16th century.
While on the subject of food I wasn't aware that Augustinians were not allowed to eat red meat. Theirs was a simple diet which did however include fish.
Inside the church we saw how the natural light enhanced the beautiful stained glass east window. Shades of blue and red changed in tone as the light fluctuated in intensity, a passing cloud blotting out the sun momentarily.
At the back of the church is a mini-museum where you will find two carved 10th century Celtic crosses originally for outside worship.
And the Penmon cross (from about 1000 AD) which stood about 400 m to the north west of the church, is now also housed in the Nave. You will see that weathering has dissolved the sharp resolution of the figures on the cross.
Penmon Dovecote, Anglesey
Dissolution of the Monasteries
In 1536 King Henry 8th of England ordered the dissolution of the monasteries throughout England and Wales.
As a result Penmon priory and the surrounding land was transferred to the Bulkeley family.
It was the Bulkeley's who were responsible for building the impressive Penmon dovecote next to the priory. Records suggest it was built around 1600 by Sir Richard Bulkeley
The dovecote is a solid, square stone structure with an enormous domed roof, and at its apex is an open cupola.
When you walk throught the narrow side entrance you'll see a 12 feet high stone pillar. This would have given access to over a thousand nests which line the surrounding walls.
Have A Great Story About Penmon?
Do you have a great story about Penmon and its rich history? Perhaps you have visited the Church , St Seiriol's Well or the Dovecote recently, or have walked from the old Priory to Penmon Point. Share it here!
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Beautiful Penmon revisited June 2011 Not rated yet
Told you we'd be back at Penmon! The weather wasn't as good as last June but once again this corner of Anglesey didn't disappoint.
I know that …
Yacht Sinks off Puffin Island Not rated yet
In rough seas yesterday a yacht sank off Puffin Island, near Penmon on Anglesey in what is a notorious stretch of tidal waters.
At about 1415 on Friday …
Penmon Limestone Not rated yet
The peninsular surrounding Penmon Priory is composed of limestone which has been quaried extensively over the years.
Because of its fine quality the …
St Seiriol's Priestholm on Puffin Island Not rated yet
When St. Seiriol founded the Penmon Monastery he also set up a community on a small island just off the coast, half a mile from the shore.
Today this …
Dovecote At Penmon Not rated yet
The Dovecote: the third in a series on Penmon researched and written by Max Pemberton.
When the monastery was dissolved in 1537, the buildings were …
The Prior's House, Penmon, Anglesey Not rated yet
The second in a series on Penmon researched and written by Max Pemberton whilst living in Priory House (formerly his mother's home)
The private dwelling …
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