Saturday, October 5, 2013

Aberystwyth {St. Padarns Church, Llanbadarn Fawr}

It was just a Tuesday.

I hadn't put much thought into the day except that it was windy enough to grab a jacket on my way to lecture.  The thing about living in a place is you can take time to get lost.  I hadn't intended to to, but when I went walking to the National Library after class I found a heavily wooded walk, I thought - of course, why not.

The path crested a ridge above houses, with curious stepped yards and patios.  I was rewarded at the end of the path with a view of St. Padarn Church, the surrounding graveyard and a tantalizing arched entry - it was terribly tempting to creep through the gate and view closer the history.

The church is built on the hillside and, like so many buildings in Aberystwyth, it surprises you with a view when you least expect it.  I was first impressed that I hadn't seen it's height sooner.  It's now in the midst of very English houses, which rub shoulders just across narrow streets.  There's really no angle to capture the whole building - at least with my lens.

The silence inside the church was heavy, every movement interrupted the silence and the sound of the wind outside was magnified in the empty interior.  The church is a cruciform in structure.  The pews under the tower were cleared away beneath the vaulted wood ceiling because the BBC was coming to record a Christmas concert.

I pause here to think about the clash of old and new.  St. Padarn was a Celtic monk who settled in the barren land.  He would have worshiped in the open spaces and been buried simply as fitting his ascetic lifestyle.  The building is now a massive collection of history named after a man from the wilderness.  The foundations starts in the 3rd century but the tower was rebuilt in 1297 after the original church burned.  Since then it's been developed and the most recent noticeable additions are war memorials and 19th century gravestones.

I loved the significance of the discovery and how the light mixed through the stained glass windows inside.  Every ancient church needs to be discovered on a dark rainy day, in silence, awe and memory.  


  1. I love this final graveyard picture, where new life is pushing aside the memorial to death.

  2. Amazing, Abbie. What do you dream about when you close your eyes to sleep?