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St Teilo’s Church

January 2010

St Fagans under snow: Tomorrow's guided tours of St Teilo's Church going ahead - if the snow holds back!

Posted by David Thorpe on 11 January 2010
From left: Saint Dewi, or David, and St Teilo
(l-r) Saint Dewi, and Saint Teilo. Dewi, sometimes known as David, is the patron Saint of Wales. You can identify Teilo by the bell he is carrying. According to his life story, he was given a golden bell by the Pope in Rome. Teilo is the patron Saint of apples and horses.
Scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, as depicted in the North Chapel of St Teilo's Church at St Fagans National History Museum.
Scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, as depicted in the North Chapel of St Teilo's Church at St Fagans National History Museum.

The St Fagans site isn’t usually this quiet: even on blustery November afternoons, determined (but soggy) visitors can be found walking the site, exploring the galleries and the historic buildings. This week, however, the only surge in visitors has been the amazing array of birds we’ve seen reclaiming the hedgerows and, out of necessity, brazenly venturing near the offices and mess rooms in search of food. Only last Friday I was kept company by a pair of Lapwings, who were enjoying the last of the afternoon sun outside the museum's main entrance.

The only human traffic on our pathways has been a small army of Museum Assistants, Craftspeople and Agriculturers, busy clearing snow and gritting. The textures, colours and smells of our Christmas Nights event* are now long-gone; tipp-exed out and muted. The site is eerily empty - though it is incredibly beautiful, it has not been safe enough to let visitors in on several occasions during the last week or so.

In the snow, St Teilo's Church does not look as dazzling as last year: as is the custom with traditional buildings, the bright limewash covering the outer wall has taken the brunt of the season's weather, and will be re-applied next spring when it is milder. The interior, as ever, is still as vibrant as it was when the reconstruction was officially opened in 2007, and, we hope, as it would have looked in 1500-1530.

The wall painting scheme is now finished, bar a few Latin inscriptions, which are proving harder to decipher than previously thought. The north chapel design, including figures of Saints Dewi and Teilo, as well as what is thought to be male and female portraits of local patrons, were composed by copying fragments plaster from the church in its original location. Where the plaster had deteriorated, or the pigment faded, we looked at better preserved mural sequences in Wales in order to come up with appropriate evidence for the missing parts.

While the north chapel is not directly accessible to the visiting public (partly because the east end of the church houses some of the oldest furniture in our collection), these murals are visible through the carved screens in the church. These, too, have had a new lease of life, through the work of Fleur Kelly, who has worked with our own in-house painters on several aspects of the church’s painted carvings.

If the snow holds back, the advertised guided tours of the Church will go ahead tomorrow and Friday (14-15 Jan); starting at 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00. Those interested in attending are encouraged to telephone us before starting their journey, to ensure that the museum is open and accessible, on (029) 2057 3500. The church is a ten-minute walk from the main entrance on a clear day, so please bear this in mind when choosing your footwear!
Wrap up warm, and hope to see you there!

*That's treacle; fairy lights; brass bands; bay leaves; woodsmoke and wet boots, in case you were wondering...

July 2009

St Teilo's Church - the book blog

Posted by Mari Gordon on 28 July 2009
St Teilos cover

At last, the first review for Saving St Teilo's has come in.

Reviews make me nervous but in a good, exciting way. I never really dread seeing them but it is a truth universally acknowledged (in publishing at least) that you can't keep all of the people happy all of the time. So, sooner or later we'll get a stinker. But not this time –

"Gerallt Nash’s book also conveys a spirit rarely found in museum publications – pride and joy, craftsmanship and passion, a genuine sense of adventure and achievement. It makes the reader not just want to see St Teilo’s, but also to wish that they had rolled up their sleeves and lent a hand in its rescue."

To read the rest of the review go to


April 2009

St Teilo's Church - the blog

Posted by Mari Gordon on 27 April 2009
BBC journalist Garry Owen
BBC journalist Garry Owen launches the book 'Saving St Teilo's'

We had a fabulous event at St Fagans yesterday. The weather wasn't quite with us - damp and overcast - but luckily lots of people were, and very many of them bought copies of the book!

I didn't catch the whole service as I was flitting around with boxes of books, but what I saw was very moving, and it felt intimate and totally natural.

Then a whole load more people arrived for the actual launch. People crowded into the Church and the two main speakers, Garry Owen and Eurwyn Wiliam, both did excellent jobs. Eurwyn spoke about the project from its beginnings, and as he's been involved with the project since its beginning 25 years ago it was a great overview. But, as always, humorous too! Then Garry Owen brought a lovely personal note, as he's a local boy who remembers the Church when it was still by the river Loughour at Pontarddulais. He really emphasised just how iconic the Church was  - and still is - to the local community.

Finally everyone came over to Oakdale, the Workmen's Instititute, for refreshments and we were flooded with people queuing up to buy the book. It was like when you first arrive at a car boot sale! It was also great for me to finally meet some of the book's contributors, people I've only emailed up til now. I guess everybody was enjoying themselves as by 5.30pm some people didn't seem to want to leave!

The rest of the work for me is now to make sure all the relevant bookshops and retail outlets know about it. And making sure it's on the relevant websites. And sending out review copies... In a way, producing the book is only half the job: now we've got to sell it!

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 20 April 2009
St Teilos cover

No blogs for a while now - but mostly because we've been working full tilt on the book (also because I've been off for a week...).

So, it's now at the printers, and there's nothing - well, hardly anything - more we can do now. If all is well the books will be in Cardiff this Friday, and we'll all be at St Fagans launching it on Sunday. If the weather is anywhere as good as it has been this last week or so then it'll be a truly lovely afternoon.

As exciting as it is to look forward to seeing the actual book (no matter how many proofs, dummies etc you've seen - the real thing always looks different!) this bit always makes me a bit nervous too. After it arrives, and I spot the inevitable typo that got away, or something I wish we'd changed when we had the chance, or... and after the launch event, I'll be able to reflect on what a pleasure it was to work on and how lovely everybody was to work with. It's a real privilege to have been able to learn so much about the whole project - one of the very best bits of my job is being able to get involved with such a variety of different projects that might otherwise have passed me by. But with this one in particular, I think, the depth of people's knowledge and skills, and their committment, is inspiring.


Anyway, look out for it, available in all good bookshops - soon!


January 2009

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 14 January 2009

We're getting really stuck in now. We've had a complete set of pages, which is our chance to move or replace any images, or perhaps move pages around. Once we've done that the layout is set in stone and we start proofreading. While we proofread the English, the designer will work on the Welsh pages - that's why it's important that nothing moves around after we've agreed on the layout!

We had some new external shots of the church done, so that we'd have a wider choice to try out for the cover. I think we're pretty close to deciding on the image. And I think the title is decided too:

Saving St Teilo's: bringing a medieval church to life.

I hope it's a strong title, and I like the fact that we get the name 'St Teilo's' right in there at the beginning!

We're also moving ahead with the launch event. It will be in the spring, March or maybe April. It should be a lovely event, it will be lighter then - and warmer!

December 2008

St Teilo's Church - the book

Posted by Mari Gordon on 8 December 2008
Re-erecting the church at the Museum of Welsh Life
Church nave - interior

I'm working on a book about the fantastic St Teilo's Church at St Fagans. Been really looking forward to this one, it's a lovely story and there's a wealth of fab images - unlike usually, when I have to scrabble around for some decent stuff. I thought we'd be much further on than we are mind, I really expected to be up to my ears in proofs by now. I sort of know why we're further behind than I'd planned, just can't quite explain. Or I could, but it still probably wouldn't make much sense. Plus, designers work in different ways, and this one likes to take a lot of time 'up front' working on the design concept, then when that's agreed we crack on with the proofreading fairly quickly. I suppose I'm more comfortable with spending the bulk of the time at the proofreading stage, especially with a fairly text-heavy book like this one. Still, we always manage to end up with a book on time. I should be designing the marketing plan by now, but I'm still getting the images together and finishing the copy - things like indexes, the glossary, that kind of thing. And I haven't written any of the image captions yet, which I decided would be quite long, narrative style, so that we don't have to cram absolutely everything into the main copy.

Having to work within a financial year is odd too - not at all the way publishing works. I could get really quite anxious about this if I let myself. I just have to concentrate on how good the book's going to look, and having a high-profile launch, with a popular speaker, where everybody buys a copy of the book, which will get great reviews...

In our favour is the fact that the Church is already incredibly popular and has had a lot of good press. The whole re-erection project at St Fagans has built up a swell of good will, and the Church has its own loyal following - a sort of fan-base! All that's keeping me going at the moment, but I know things are going to get pretty intense over the next couple of months.

April 2007

Mawrth 27, 2007

Posted by David Thorpe on 3 April 2007

Pnawn da. Gai ddechre trwy estyn gwahoddiad ichi (nage, ddim i'r Eglwys. 'Dych chi ddim wedi blino darllen am honno eto...)?

Mae Oriel 'Perthyn' (neu 'Belonging') newydd Sain Ffagan yn agor yn swyddogol ar ddydd Sadwrn, Mawrth 31, 2007 - gobeithio y gallwch ymweld â ni! Mae'r Oriel wedi bod yn wagle tywyll ers rhai misoedd 'nawr, ond mae'r goleuadau, y camerâu a'r gwrthrychau i gyd wedi'u gosod - ac un ohonynt yn arbennig â chysylltiad gyda'r Eglwys. Dim ond jyst a ffitio i mewn i'w chornel 'mae hi, ond mae murlun Santes Catrin yn werth ei gweld. Rhaid ifi gyfadde' teimlo braidd yn bigog-tu-fewn pan welais i hi'n cael ei symud o'i chuddfan yn y Castell i lawr i'w chartref newydd - mae hi gyda un o'r olion hynaf o ddarlunio o'r Eglwys ac yn fregus iawn.

Cafodd y Santes ei phaentio yng nghanol y 14eg Ganrif, ac yn ffigwr pwerus, gosgeiddig iawn. Mae'r olwyn y tu ol iddi, wrth gwrs, yn ein hatgoffa o artaith y Cristnogion cynnar - yn ogystal ag agwedd hard sell yr Eglwys Gatholig Ganol Oesol. Mae gan bob un o'r seintiau yn yr Eglwys wrthrychcau i'n atgoffa o stori eu bywyd - ond canolbwyntio ar eu rhinweddau fyddwn ni heddiw, yn hytrach na'r aberth a'r boen welwn yn y darluniau canoloesol. Ta waeth, mae 'na gannoedd o bethau eraill (o oes cyn Crist i foddi Capel Celyn) i'w gweld yn yr Oriel newydd - ond cofiwch ddweud helo wrth y Gatrin pan ewch chi heibio.

Cyffro yng nghasgliad yr Amgueddfa - a chyffro felly i'n dehonglwyr: roedd rhaid ffarwelio â'n 'Celt' preswyl, Owain (hwnnw wedi mynd i adeiladu nyth wiail i'w epil newydd), a chroesawu Anna i'n plith (y hi fydd yn gweithio yn Oriel Perthyn) yr wythnos hon. Ychwanegu hwnnw at chwa'r gwanwyn o fysus ysgol, ynghyd â'r gobaith y cai amser i dynnu gwynt a sgrifennu'r wythnos nesa, a dyna fy wythnos. Hwyl am y tro!

Ebrill 3, 2007

Posted by David Thorpe on 3 April 2007

Ers dechrau gweithio yn Sain Ffagan, mae fy 'niddordeb' mewn materion crefyddol wedi gorfod tyfu'n sylweddol. Ydw, wir, dwi'n ddigon hapus (wrth fy modd, bron) yn mwydro am oriau am yr Eglwys Ganoloesol; llafarganu, cerfluniau, darluniau Almaenig o'r Apocalyps hydnoed - ond mae maes 'Yr Eglwys Heddiw' yn llawer mwy niwlog a chythryblus ei olwg i fi na'r hen, hen hanes. Ces i ddipyn o gyflwyniad i'r pwnc pan yn trafod ail-gysegru'r Eglwys. Roedd yn rhaid ystyried pob math o broblemau dyrys - rhyw hybrid ysbrydol-ymarferol sy'n gorfod ystyried anghenion trigolion Pontarddulais, yr Eglwys yn Nghymru a thros chwe chan mil o ymwelwyr y flwyddyn. Mae'n codi sylw at nyth gacwn o enwadau, defodau, ac, yn naturiol, hanes difodiant adeiladau tebyg, nad oedd lle iddynt yma yn Sain Ffagan.

Roedd hi'n braf, felly, gweld yr erthygl hon (, felly, ar dudalen Saesneg y BBC. Mae'n adlewyrchu cymaint o'r themau yr hoffem ni - ac y bydd raid i ni - fynd i'r afa'l â nhw wedi i'r Eglwys agor yn swyddogol fis Hydref. Beth yw rôl addoldy heddiw - ai creiryn yn unig fydd yr Eglwys wrth iddi agor? Gobeithio y bydd digon ohonoch chi'n ymweld â ni i roi dipyn o fywyd i'r lle - does dim byd tebyg i'r teimlad yna pan fydd hi'n llawn pobl!

Felly, gyda'r mwydro lled-athronyddol o'r ffordd, rhaid troi ngolwg i'r Pasg. Stori'r Atgyfodiad yw prif thema ein murluniau - a bydd yr artist Tracey Williams a minnau'n cynnal gweithgareddau'n peintio a dehongli'r stori dros y pythefnos nesa'. Mae croeso i chi alw i mewn i gymryd rhan - dewch â'ch het artist gyda chi!

March 2007

Mawrth 20, 2007

Posted by David Thorpe on 20 March 2007

Wythnos dipyn yn llai bownslyd sydd wedi mynd heibio - mae'n si?r nad fi yw'r cynta' i fod 'chydig bach yn rhy optimistig ar ddechre mis Mawrth. Ei sgil effaith, wrth gwrs, oedd fy mod wedi defnyddio fy nognau egni i gyd erbyn dydd Gwener (ac wedi anghofio, fel ffwl, am y penwythnos prysur o fy mlaen: Caerdydd gyfan, yn sicr o fod â chlamp o Benmaenmawr wedi'r gêm, yn crwydo'r parc fel zombies gwyrdd!)

Mae cyfarch a sgwrsio 'da'r cyhoedd yn fusnes blinedig. Mae dewis ei wneud mewn dillad rhy frau, ar ddiwrnod arbennig o oriog, yn fusnes blinedig a gwirion.

Ac felly mae'r chill cyfarwydd yn dangos ei ben, ac yn sydyn reit dwi'n teimlo'n swrth ac oer - efo dim ond clogyn brethyn Tuduraidd yn y swyddfa'n gwmpeini cynnes (a hwnnw'n edrych yn wirioneddol sdiwpid ar ben jîns!) Mae gennai got Ray Mears ar sêt deithiwr y car. Peth anferth, bob tywydd. Pob poced yn llawn teclynnau anhepgor, abswrd rhywun sy'n treulio lot gormod o amser mewn Amgueddfa awyr agored - tortsh, matsys, cliciwr-cyfri, cyllell boced, mapiau a phisys o bapur yn f'atgoffa i ffonio 'Catholic Living Magazine'. Dim iws i neb ar sêt y 'Pyrjo' yn y maes parcio. Y clogyn amdani te. Cam amgen i fyd 'dehongli byw' ar bnawn Sadwrn, yn enw cynhesrwydd!

Diar mi - fe soniais i, yndo, pa mor hawdd ydi datblygu obsesiwn efo'r tywydd yn Sain Ffagan, a dyma fi, unwaith eto, yn swnian am yr oerfel.

Yn fyr - dwi 'nôl yn y Swyddfa Gynnes r?an, ac wedi llowcio cymaint o fitaminau dwi'n gneud s?n fel ratl babi pan dwi'n symud. Maen nhw ar y ddesg, drws nesa' i'n hylif haul - mae o wedi bod yn eistedd yno'n optimistig ers mis Awst diwethaf...

Mawrth 13, 2007

Posted by David Thorpe on 13 March 2007

Waw am ddiwrnod braf! Helo! Diwrnod o waith swyddfa sydd gen i heddiw, ond ces gyfle i fynd allan i grwydro'r safle bore 'ma cyn cwrdd â gr?p o ymwelwyr o Benarth.

Fe fuom ni'n sbecian o amgylch yr Eglwys - minnau a Ray Smith (Pen Saer - yn yr ystyr llythrennol - yr Amgueddfa) yn ateb cwestiynau a sgwrsio. Mae Ray wedi bod yn gweithio yn Sain Ffagan ers sbelen r?an: a dweud y gwir, mae wedi bod yn gweithio ar brosiect yr Eglwys ers ei chychwyn (h.y. pan oeddwn i'n fabi bach bochgoch).

O edrych yn ofalus ar luniau yn ein archifau, gellir ei sbotio, mewn du a gwyn, yn gweithio ar brosiect adeiladu Siop Gwalia, ac ar Institiwt Glowyr Oakdale hefyd. Ei orchwyl, ar hyn o bryd, yw cerfio bywyd Teilo Sant (cewch air am weddill ei gampweithiau mewn post nes ymlaen!) Mae'n defnyddio un darn o dderw Cymreig, un-troedfedd-ar-bymtheg o hyd - a chan ei bod hi dipyn yn gynhesach tu allan, mae wedi symud yn ôl i fyny i'r Eglwys i weithio. Dwi'n falch o gael ei gwmpeini, am ei fod yn llawn hwyl a gwybodaeth am bawb a phopeth yn Sain Ffagan (ac hefyd yn wrandawr da iawn pan fydda i'n troi'n Strempan oriog ar foreuau glawog). Os ddewch chi i fyny i'r Eglwys rywdro, mynnwch sgwrs ag e - ar yr amod y byddwch chi'n glou: mae gwaith 'da fe i'w wneud!

Ta waeth, wythnos orlawn sydd wedi mynd heibio (fe fydd raid i chi faddau imi - dwi'n gwybod taw dydd Mawrth yw hi, ond mae Wythnos Sain Ffagan yn wahanol iawn. Ddewch chi ddim o hyd iddi ar gloc na chalendr...) - ac mae'n syndod cymaint yn rhagor o ymwelwyr sydd wedi dod atom ni yn yr wythnos heulog ddiwethaf. O ystyried y cyfarch, sgwrsio, malu awyr, ateb cwestiynau a dwrdio dwi'n ei wneud bob dydd, mae'r Eglwys - er ei bod hi'n wag o gynulleidfa - yn dod, yn raddol bach, yn le swnllyd iawn.

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