St Illtud’s Church, Llantwit Major, South Wales

This church is utterly extraordinary in terms of its history, survival and the stories it provides. It was founded by the Celt St Illtud who founded his ‘desert place’ where he attracted men and women followers. the surviving building is small, but was part of a settlement which included a church, scriptorium, school, hospice, guest rooms and workshops, probably including masons, and others.He attracted students from across the British Isles who travelled to found similar communities, so his impact was huge. It is claimed to be Britain’s oldest centre of learning. Churches are dedicated to him in Wales and in Brittany.

Though small compared with many other centres, there is a huge amount to see, covering Norman times to the present. John Wesley described it as “the most beautiful and most spacious church in Wales”. It is as short walk from the train station so is accessible for those without cars. The town is also fascinating and is close enough to the coast to include a walk there.

Norman font and view to High Altar
magdalene with ointment, wall painting

Carved Jesse tree with squint to allow priest to follow main mass at high alter. Often believed to have been leper window.

Not related, Elizabethan lady in late 16th century Venetian dress with fine embroidery. Small baby by head shows she died in childbirth

Effigy with only head visible is he oldest. Tonsure, so a priest, 13th century. Translation of base: Let not the stone be trodden on; let her who lies be protected. Was this a time of raids?

A single, but of course extraordinary Benefactions board with carving of Da Vinci’s Last Supper beneath.
And finally, this wonderful staircase
And this lovely little Madonna and Child

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