#MuseumFromHome – Day 207

Posted by Tenby Museum on Oct 31, 2020 Blog No Comments

Day 207 of our #MuseumFromHome project and today we look at a watercolour from 2004 by David Bellamy, entitled St Govan’s Chapel.

There is a legend that the steps down to the chapel cannot be counted. Richard Fenton in his 1811 work Historical Tour highlighted this legend. He counted 52 steps (as did the scholar and naturalist when he had visited in 1622) but others have written of 70 steps (Sir TG Cullum in 1785), “about half of 155” (Mrs Morgan of Ely in her 1791 work Tour of Milford Haven), and 73 (Philip Gosse in 1854). Arthur Leach wrote extensively on the history of the chapel in his Leaves From A Notebook and noted the anomaly was probably caused by “many stones [had become] broken and others dislodged “ and went on to write, “Today there are 74 definitely countable steps from the cliff to the floor of the Chapel” (1931).

Mrs Morgan in her book Tour of Milford wrote about the legend of St Govan: “When St Govan fled from his persecutors, before he reached the shelter of these rocks, he passed some people who were ploughing, and desired them, if any strangers made enquiry about him, they would tell them that when they were ploughing they saw a person of that description. Lo and behold, to their great astonishment, the corn became ripe in three days time; and as they were busy in reaping it his pursuers came and asked whether they had seen any such person. They replied, as the saint had ordered them, when they were ploughing that field they had seen such a one. This put an end to their search, and the kind rocks opening to receive him, he took up his abode there. In gratitude to the countrymen for their protection, he endured their spring, and likewise a stratum of red clay, which runs under it, with healing qualities. He also gave the water such unalterable sweetness that it never varies either summer or winter.“

David Bellamy is a well-known and respected watercolour artist and teacher, who specialises in mountain and coastal scenes and is particularly fascinated by the moods of nature in wild places.