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Title: A Record of St. Cybi's Church, Holyhead - and the Sermon preached after its Restoration, 1879
Author: Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Record of St. Cybi's Church, Holyhead - and the Sermon preached after its Restoration, 1879" ***

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Transcribed from the 1897? edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                          [Picture: Book cover]

                             A RECORD OF ST.
                              CYBI’S CHURCH,

                                * * * * *

                      And the Sermon preached after
                        its Restoration, 1879, by
                      ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.,
                           Dean of Westminster.

                                * * * * *


 [Picture: South View of St. Cybi’s Church, with the Chancel Aisle added

A Record of St. Cybi’s Church

THE old Church of St. Cybi, at Holyhead, which contains so many memorials
of the devotion and piety of former generations, has been in this Jubilee
year of the reign of Queen Victoria enriched by many precious gifts.  A
new South Aisle, capable of containing 50 or 60 worshippers, has been
added to the Church as a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Stanley of
Penrhos; and the beautiful window at the east end has been placed there
in memory of Mr. Watson, Chairman and Managing Director of the City of
Dublin Co., by his sons.

The connection of Mr. Stanley’s forefathers, the Owens of Penrhos, with
the Church of St. Cybi, has been a very close one, and we are indebted to
the archaeological lore and love of the locality which distinguished his
family and himself, for the preservation of many beautiful traditions and
interesting remains of long past ages.

Holyhead Island is rich in old-world treasures which appeal not only to
the archaeologist and the historian, but to the artistic mind and eye of
men like Matthew Arnold and the author of “The Stones of Venice.”

“Just on the other side of the Mersey,” Ruskin writes, “you have your
Snowdon and your Menai Straits and that mighty granite rock beyond the
moors of Anglesea, splendid in its heathery crest, and footplanted in the
deep sea, once thought of as sacred—a divine promontory, looking
westward; the Holy Head or Head Land, still not without awe when its red
light glares first through storm.”

On that same mountain of Holyhead are the circular hive-shaped dwellings,
of unknown antiquity, called locally “Cyttiau Gwyddelod,” or “Irishmen’s
Huts.”  These are excavated to a depth of some feet below the surface, 15
feet to 20 feet in diameter inside, the sides of the interior being lined
with stones to prevent the earth from falling, and the dome-shaped roof
only being apparent above the surface of the ground.  In addition to the
above are the curiously shaped querns, mullers, and other stone
implements indicating the past life of the dwellers in these rude huts.

The great Cromlech at Trefignedd and the fine Monoliths at Plas Meilw
also bear silent record to the existence of men, who, but for this
lasting evidence might well be deemed mythical.  At that great Cromlech,
overlooking many miles of country, horrible scenes were enacted,
according to tradition, scenes too ghastly for description; and now,
cattle graze and children play in the sunshine among those giant stones.

Holyhead mountain has repeatedly been a witness to fierce struggles for
mastery between the natives and invaders, who from time to time landed,
and tried to make good their footing, on that wild picturesque coast,
guarded as it is to the west by jagged rocks, and with only here and
there a creek into which a boat might be pushed in calm weather.  Even
now, with all the help that modern invention and careful thought can
give, there are tragic tales of shipwreck and loss of life on those cruel
rocks; and what must it have been in ancient times, when there was
nothing between daring men and death but their rough boats, which it
would take little to dash into a thousand atoms?

Doubtless in those early days the island was wooded, as trunks of trees
are found at low tide, half buried in the sand in Towyn-y-Capel Bay, on
the west coast.  Possibly, under cover of these trees, marauders were
able to effect a landing unseen; but at present, when there is not a
single stick or shrub of any kind, this is difficult to realise.  Still,
though the trees have perished, there remain the silent monuments of that
great race, which are found in almost every land; the same cromlechs, the
same monoliths, as exist in our own island, are traceable on the
Continent of Europe, especially in Brittany, and even in remotest India.

If to searchers after Druidical and Ante-Druidical remains Holyhead
affords such rich results, yet higher interest still attaches to its
early Christian records.  In it, and in its neighbour Anglesey, are
traced some of the earliest evidences of the foundation of the Christian
Church, its collegiate bodies and its organization; and from this cradle
of the Church proceeded the men whose teaching appears to have
effectually superseded the dying religion of the Sun and the Serpent; for
we have evidence that a number of Druid priests were converted, and we
have no record of any bitter animosity against the preachers of the

Early legends affirm that James, the son of Zebedee, came with his mother
Salome into Britain, six years after our Lord’s Ascension, and preached
the Gospel to willing ears; others say St. Paul himself visited these
Islands after his imprisonment by Nero.

How far these legends are literally true is not of great consequence; the
certainty remains that the Gospel was preached throughout the country,
and that the fabric of the holy Church was raised and organized here
after the same manner as the Eastern Churches.

As a proof of Christians having visited the Island, a medal was found in
one of the Druid Mounds in Anglesey bearing the inscription, “This is
Jesus Christ the Mediator,” and as the Romans had routed the Druids, this
medal must have been there before the demolishing of the mound by
Suetonius Paulinus, thus verifying in part the words of Tertullian an age
later, who relates the sudden progress of the Christian Faith, which
anticipated the Roman sword in the celerity of its conquests.

The first school of “Christian learning” to supply the province with
clergy was apparently founded at Bangor, Anno Domini 182, and it is
supposed that according to the usual plan of organization there were
seven bishops under an archbishop in this province of Britain.  Some of
these were bishops of endowed sees, others were consecrated “Sine

The clergy in general appear to have lived with their bishops, forming
collegiate bodies, and they were sent out by their superiors into various
districts allotted to them as occasion required.

It does not appear that they had any settled parishes in Mona for many
years after this period nor were there many churches; but they “assembled
the people together to hear the Word of God preached in some convenient
place, either at oratories or at the manor-houses of their respective
Lords and Masters, who probably had their own chapels for sacred use and
service.  Most of these churches and chapels were dedicated to such early
Christian names as St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Michael, &c.” (see “Mona

After the departure of the Romans in A.D. 390 the Picts tried to regain
their former possessions, and the country was sorely ravaged by them
until there stood up two families of eminent rank who laid claim to the
British Sceptre.  The one was headed by Octavius, grandson of the Duke of
Cornwall; the other was descended from Cynetha Weledig, and nearly
related to Constantine the Great.

For many years struggles continued between these rival Princes; but at
length the descendant of the Cornwall family gave up the contest and
retired to the Duchy of Cornwall.  Cynetha’s descendants having routed
the Picts who had invaded Mona, made head also against the Saxons.  For a
long time they withstood them victoriously, having secured all the
ancient “Brittannia Secunda” (now called Wales) from the ravages of these
invaders, and to them the poor Britons, and more especially the clergy,
fled for protection.

It is difficult to trace the exact date of the foundation of the church
of St. Cybi at Holyhead, but it appears to have been founded by Cybi the
son of Selyt, or Solomon, about 550 A.D.  He afterwards, according to
tradition, became Bishop of Anglesey.

Sir John Stanley upheld the theory that a Roman Temple originally existed
within the present churchyard walls, and that on the departure of the
Romans it was occupied or used as a church.  Whether this were so or not,
it is clear that in the days of Caswallan Llaw Hir, Son of Cynetha, there
was a burial-place within the fort at Holyhead, inside the present walls
encircling the churchyard.

Here Caswallan routed and slew with his own hand Sirigi, the Irish giant,
who, with a following of Irish Picts, had a short time before forced a
landing and had built a place or town called first Llan-y-Gwyddel, then
Caer Gybi, and now in English, Holyhead.  Within the enclosure where
Sirigi was slain stood a chapel, on the south side of the church, some
remains of which (conspicuous among them a Gothic arch) are still extant,
and here, it is affirmed, the Irish giant was buried.  This was called
Eglwys-y-Bedd, the Church of the Grave, and Capel Llan-y-Gwyddel, or the
Chapel of the Irishman.

It appears, from leases of the collegiate church, that this chapel was
endowed with distinct revenues in the reign of Edward III.  Some of the
ruins were removed in the last century to render the entrance to the
present church more convenient, and in digging, a stone coffin was found
under an arch, on the north side of the chancel, containing bones of a
large size, and this probably was the shrine of Sirigi, who was canonized
by the Irish.  According to an old chronicle, they carried off his body
and deposited it in their cathedral in Dublin; but the finding of the
coffin with the gigantic bones seems to render this part of the story

Caswallon had apparently a very fierce conflict with the Irish Picts
before he gained his victory, and moreover could not have had much
confidence in his own men, for we read that he tied them together in
couples, with horse fetters, to prevent their breaking their ranks when
fighting with Sirigi.  This prince settled himself after his victories at
Llaneillan, and was submitted to as Chief or King of Anglesey.  There are
remains of a strongly fortified camp near the summit of Holyhead
mountain, still called Mur Caswallon or Caer-y-Twr.

Caswallon’s son was the famous Maelgwyn Gwynedd, the hero of many battles
and the terror of the Saxons.  He erected the See of Bangor about the
year 550, where, a short time before, Daniel, the son of Dionothus, Abbot
of Bangor-is-Coed, had built a college for North Wales clergy.  Maelgwyn
Gwynydd founded the college and the three canonries of Bangor, Penmon and
Caer Gybi.  Others say that Llywarch-ap-Bran founded the Prebendaries.
His arms, the three crows, are in the porch of St. Cybi’s Church, at

        [Picture: South Doorway, Holyhead Church, Anglesey (1862)]

Tradition makes St. Cybi a contemporary of St. Seiriol, who lived at
Penmon, while St. Cybi lived at Holyhead.  These saints met frequently in
the centre of the island to hold holy converse together.  They left their
homes early and parted at mid-day, so that the rising sun always shone on
the face of St. Cybi as he travelled eastwards in the morning, and he met
the rays of the setting sun as he journeyed homeward in the evening,
while on St. Seiriol’s face the sun never shone, hence St. Seiriol is
represented as fair and white, while St. Cybi is depicted as dark and
sunburnt. (“Gybi Felyn.”)

This legend has been commemorated in the following verses by Mr. Matthew

                                EAST AND WEST.

    In the bare midst of Anglesea they show
       Two springs which close by one another play,
    And “Thirteen hundred years agone,” they say,
       Two saints met often where those waters flow.

    One came from Penmon westward, and a glow
       Whiten’d his face from the sun’s fronting ray;
    Eastward the other, from the dying day,
       And he with unsunn’d face did always go.

    “Seiriol the bright, Cybi the dark!” men said;
       The seer from the east was then in light,
    The seer from the west was then in shade.
       Ah! now ’tis changed.  In conquering sunshine bright
       The man of the bold west now comes array’d;
       He of the mystic east is touched with night.

It is highly probable that St. Cybi did found the church that bears his
name, though the structure as it stands is no doubt of later date.  The
original fabric was probably used as a school or college as well as for
public worship.  St. Cybi also founded other chapels: Capel-y-Llochwydd
(meaning a desolate place), on the mountain, and Capel-y-Golles, at the
east end of which there was a spring; and another at Towyn-y-Capel, on an
artificial tumulus or mound by the sea-shore, about two and a half miles
from Holyhead, called St. Fraid (or Capel Bridget).  The legend states
that St. Bridget, escaping from her persecutors, floated across from
Ireland on a green sod which, on her landing, became a firm hillock, on
which the chapel was built.  Traces of a chapel can still be remembered,
but these have now disappeared, owing to the encroachment of the sea,
together with the mound on which they were discernible.  There was also a
fourth chapel in the hamlet of Criccist.

The following account of Capel-y-Llochwydd, from the pen of the late
Bishop Stanley, will be of interest.  (“Blackwood’s Magazine,” 1830.)

    “A singular fissure, cleaved in a direct line from the summit to the
    base, forms, or rather did form, a passage of communication, of no
    small celebrity in ancient days, and retaining its odour of sanctity
    till a very recent date.  It is known by the name of Ogof Llochwyd,
    ‘Ogof’ signifying a cave.  A spring of crystal water, filtering
    through the deep strata, formed a deep well at the bottom of this
    chasm.  Situated just at the higher opening of the gorge was a chapel
    for the accommodation of pilgrims, called Capel-y-Llochwyd, which
    name a considerable remnant of ruins at the head of the gorge still
    retains.  Till within 60 years the lonely chapel and its well were
    from time unknown the resort of the lads and lassies of the island,
    who, at a certain annual festival called ‘Suliau-y-Creiriau’, or ‘The
    Sundays of the relics,’ corresponding to the wakes of the northern
    counties of England, and held during three successive Sundays in
    July, assembled in troops to ascertain the contingencies awaiting
    them.  Each diviner into futurity descended the chasm to the well,
    and there, if after having taken a mouthful of holy water and grasped
    two handfuls of sand from the charmed font, he or she could
    accomplish the re-ascent with them safely, each would obtain the wish
    of their heart before the close of the year.  About 60 years ago
    (1770) the chapel was reduced to ruins, and the well was concealed by
    filling it up with rubbish, but till twenty years ago (1810) the
    walls to the height of seven or eight feet remained sufficiently
    entire to convey a tolerable idea of the perfect building, which is
    represented to have been a substantial though rude and simple
    edifice, composed of unhewn stones, cemented with mortar, the windows
    and door-frames excepted, which were well wrought by the chisel, with
    considerable labour, from some very obdurate material, the whole
    apparently consisting of one chamber of oblong form not exceeding a
    few yards in length.  Of the well, however, not a trace was left,
    though its existence was proved beyond a shadow of doubt, a few years
    ago, by a party who landed and at length succeeded in detecting the
    spot from which, after removing a quantity of sand and loose stones,
    again gushed the fountain of pure water in its pristine vigour and
    doubtless inherent virtues!”

Holyhead or St. Cybi became the centre for all these chapels, and there
priests and holy men could assemble in conference and also preach the
Word of God.  “Most of these saints had their Nauddvan or Sanctuaries, in
ancient times supported by certain tenures and lands which were held of
neither Prince nor Lord, but of certain saints or patrons of churches
calling themselves abbots.  Of these there were seven in Anglesey that
were entitled (_in capite_) to several tenures, viz.: St. Beuno, St.
Cybi, St. Cadwallader, St. Peirio, St. Cyngar, St. Marcutus or Mechell,
St. Elian, this last being largely endowed in land.  These tenures were
so bestowed in order that places of refuge or sanctuaries might be
provided, and that the persons taking refuge therein might have their
privileges and rights preserved and kept inviolate.”  (See “Mona

     [Picture: Collegiate Church Holy head, Anglesea (June 1, 1772)]

After the dissolution of the monasteries the revenues of Holyhead,
Bodedern, Llandrygarn, and Bodwrog parishes came to Dr. Thomas Gwynn,
whose heir, about A.D. 1648, gave them to Jesus College, Oxford.

Grose, in his “Antiquities of England and Wales,” in 1786, writes:

    “St. Cybi, the Collegiate Church of Holyhead, stands at the extreme
    western corner of Holyhead Island, in a quadrangle measuring 220 feet
    by 130 feet, three sides of which are enclosed by strong walls,
    seventeen feet high and six thick.  The fourth side is open to the
    sea, having only a parapet, but is defended by steep rocks.  At each
    corner of the wall is an oval tower (two of which are seen in the
    accompanying view).  The entrance to this area is through a rude
    stone gate, the masonry of which, and also of the walls and towers,
    is said by Mr. Pennant to be ‘evidently Roman.’  ‘Along the walls,’
    he adds ‘are two rows of round holes, about four inches in diameter,
    which penetrate them.  They are like those of Segontium (Caernarvon),
    and nicely plaistered within.’  The church is dedicated to St. Cybi.
    It is a handsome embattled edifice, built in the form of a cross.
    The inside of the porch and the outside part of the transept are
    rudely ornamented with grotesque figures.  On the outside of the last
    are dragons, and a man leading a bear with a rope, or as some suppose
    it, Balaam and his Ass, with other now shapeless sculptures.”

    “Maelgwyn Gwynedd, who lived about A.D. 580, is said to have founded
    a college here.  This Prince was styled ‘Draco Insularis.’  Perhaps
    the dragon engraven on the church may allude to him.  Others assert
    that the founder of this college was Hwfa Cynddelew, Lord of Llys
    Lliven in this island, and of one of the fifteen tribes who lived in
    the time of Griffith-ap-Conan, Prince of North Wales, and Owen, his
    son, about the former part of the twelfth century.  It certainly was
    in being before the year 1291, because it was rated in the Lincoln

    “The head of the college was called Penclos, or Pencolas, and was one
    of the three spiritual Lords of Anglesey.  The Archdeacon of the
    Isle, and the Abbot of Penmon were the two others.”

    “The Latin title of the superior of this college was Rector, as
    appears by an ancient seal inscribed ‘Sigillum Rectoris et capituli
    ecclesia de Caer Gybi.’  The number of prebendaries of which this
    college consisted is not known; but it is certain there were twelve
    at least, that number being found in the Pension List in 1553 at £1
    each.  Before the dissolution, the Rector, or Provost, for so he is
    also styled, had thirty-nine marks; one chaplain had eleven, and the
    other two the same between them.  At the dissolution (26 Henry VIII.)
    the whole revenues were valued at no more than £24, as stated by both
    Dugdale and Speed.”

    “The King had the gift of the Provostship, which Edward III. bestowed
    on his chaplain, Thomas de London, under the denomination of the
    ‘Provostship of his free chapel of Caer Cybe,’ for which the King, in
    1351, dispensed with him for services to himself.  This college was
    granted, 7 James I., by that King to Francis Morris and Francis
    Phillips.  It became afterwards the property of Rice Gwynn, Esquire,
    who, in 1648, bestowed it on Jesus College, Oxford, the great tithes
    for the maintenance of two fellows and as many scholars; and since
    that time the parish has been served by a curate nominated by the
    college.  The living is a donative, not in charge, the certified
    value £35.”

Since Mr. Grose described the Church of St. Cybi with pen and pencil 111
years ago many changes have taken place.  The shore below the church has
been reclaimed from the sea, the lower churchyard has been added to the
original enclosure, a broad road separates it from the present harbour,
and where the tide once flowed, under the old churchyard wall, the
extensive buildings of the London and North Western Railway Company now
stand.  Steamers and trains laden with passengers and merchandise passing
to and from Ireland and America crowd the once lonely shore; and the town
and its population have grown with the growth of trade.  The very aspect
and dress of the people have changed, the picturesque high-crowned hats
and long cloaks have disappeared, only the Welsh language remains, “Yr
hen iaith Gymraig,” nor does it diminish its hold on the affections of
the people.

The successive changes which the country has undergone have left their
mark on St. Cybi’s Church, the most enduring of all the buildings in Caer
Gybi.  It was rebuilt during the 14th century, during the reign of Edward
III., as appears by the arms of England and France cut out in a stone
near the porch, and stones are in the walls worked as if belonging to a
former building.  The east window is of that date.  The church was
practically rebuilt again in the time of Henry VII., though the beautiful
plan then conceived was not fully carried out.  The Tudor cognizances are
carved on the frieze of the church, under the battlements, with St.
Cybi’s name, and the inscription on the north side is still quite
legible, “Sanctus Kebius ora pro nobis.”  The steeple was rebuilt in the
17th century.  The choir in 1713, when the tomb of Roderic ap Owen was
discovered, and on the coffin a small brass bell curiously wrought
through network; the date of his death was 1175. {16}

The ruins of the chapel (Capel Llan-y-Gwyddel) mentioned as standing
south of St. Cybi’s Church, within the enclosure, were converted into a
public school by Chancellor Edward Wynn, LL.D., of Bodewryd in Anglesey,
who by bond, bearing date November 25th, 1748, endowed it with a capital
of £120; “the interest whereof is to be paid annually on the 24th
November to a schoolmaster, who is to teach six poor boys of the town to
read and write.”

      [Picture: Collegiate Church, Holy Head.  Pl. 2 (Nov. 6, 1785)]

Light is thrown upon the wants and difficulties of the last century, in
matters of education, by some letters from the Rev. T. Ellis, Rector of
Holyhead, to Chancellor Wynn’s sister, Madame Owen of Penrhos.

In January, 1745, he writes:—“There’s nothing my heart is so much set
upon as seeing ye Chancellor’s school brought to perfection, which I hope
in God, it will be soon, thro’ yr means, and I really believe it would be
ye best work that has been done in ys county for perhaps three hundred
years past . . .

“The following old proverbs will be admitted for my excuse,—‘Ple caffo y
Cymro, y cais.’  ‘Y neb a fo ddi gwylydd, a fydd ddi golled.’  My humble
request is that you’ll be so kind as to send orders pr bearer to finish
ye floor of the School, and to plaster and whitewash ye walls, (which
look exceeding ugly at present) and to make a large oak table for
writing, wch will make ye place quite compleat to the Chancellor’s
liking, wn he comes to view it (as I hope he will) after his return from
Hereford.  I’d not be so bold a beggar and put on ye Irishman in this
manner, but for my real concern for ye swarm of children, wch grow in a
manner wild for want of schooling, who I hope will thro’ yr means be put
in a way of serving God and man. . . . ”

January, 1746:—“As the school is always uppermost in my head and heart, I
can’t forbear mentioning it to you, who are so good as to sympathise wth
ye Parish and me on its account.  I fear the Chancellor thinks me
troublesome and is offended at my frequent applications, else I would
have been wth you long agoe.  What to do I don’t know, I must not speak
to him about it, it seems, tho’ as it were ready to burst, in spight of
all the patience I preach to myself and others. . . .  It is time to give
an account of my stewardship of yr four guineas you entrusted to my care
for the benefit of this Parish.  Out of the first two guineas there went
for the Bible £1 4 0, for the folio Common Prayer-book 13s.”

Later, Mr. Ellis writes to Madam Owen thus:—“I shew’d T. Edwards yr
memorandum of yr Brother’s promising the sum of two hundred pounds to ye
School dated May ye 1st, 1745. . . .  Please to present my respects to ye
Chancellor and to ask him if he would be offended at a Volunteer Master’s
being put in ye School to take his chance till Providence sends an

“. . . I’ve sent the Chancellor herewith a present of 2 London
discourses.  I’m employed by ye Society for promoting Xtian Knowledge to
procure subscriptions towds printing ye 15,000 Welch Bibles, wch are now
in ye Press.  As Anglesey is call’d of old “Mam Cymru” or Mother of
Wales, she’ll set her daughters (viz. ye other Counties) a good example
on ys excellent occasion, wch will otherwise be a great reproach to ye
Welch, who but for ye charity of ye English wd in a few years have scarce
any such things as a Welch Bible among them.”

January, 1747:—“Please tell the Chancellor that I acquainted the Society
with his £10 subscription and communicate to him the following good news,
wch will give him pleasure, viz.: that the Society has at last got in
benefactions enough to defray the whole expence of the impression of the
Welch Bibles (except ye binding), and yt is expected it will be finished
before Lady Day next.  According to ye good old custom I heartily wish
you all a happy new year and many.  Your obliged servant to command,
Thos. Ellis.”

The successive owners of Penrhos were closely connected with the fortunes
of Holyhead.  Sir John Stanley, afterwards first Lord Stanley of
Alderley, his brother, the accomplished Bishop of Norwich and their sons,
the Honorable W. O. Stanley, and Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of
Westminster, took the keenest interest in chronicling the facts and
legends connected with the venerable church, and in the preservation of
its fabric.

During the last months of Mrs. Stanley’s life it was her great interest
to plan a complete restoration of the church, to complete the clerestory
left unfinished in Tudor times, and to render the dilapidated building
once more a worthy sanctuary for the prayers and praises which had echoed
within its walls for over thirteen centuries.  Mrs. Stanley’s plan
included the erection of a monument to the husband she had loved so well,
and whose life had been devoted to the welfare of Holyhead.

The restoration of the church was carried out after her death from the
plans of Sir Gilbert Scott, mainly at the expense of Mr. Stanley, in
1879.  By the removal of the earth accumulated within the building, the
bases of the pillars long buried were brought to light, and the church
revealed once more in the beauty of its original proportions.  And now
Mrs. Stanley’s last wish has been fully carried out, as regards her
husband’s monument, by its erection in a fitting shrine by one who,
having filled a daughter’s place in the home at Penrhos, has put her
whole heart into the perfecting of a work which she regarded as a sacred
trust bequeathed to her.

[Picture: Monument to The Honble. William Owen Stanley (d. 1884), erected
                      by desire of Ellin, his wife]

The south chancel aisle was completed and unveiled on Sunday, the 20th
June, 1897, the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Accession.  The carved
figures on the outside representing St. Seiriol and St. Cybi, are from
the designs of Mr. Hamo Thornycroft; the steps, of green serpentine
marble, are taken from the Rhoscolyn Quarry, Holyhead Island, by the
kindness of Colonel Hampton Lewis of Bodior.

Mr. Arthur Baker, who carried out the restoration of 1877 under Sir
Gilbert Scott, has been the architect of the present addition; but to the
deep regret of all who knew him, he has passed away this year, and we owe
the perfecting and completion of the work to the devoted personal
superintendance of his partner, and son-in-law, Mr. Harold Hughes, of

The monument itself is of Carrara marble, designed by Hamo Thornycroft,
R.A.  It consists of a life-size recumbent figure with watching angels at
the head and the feet.  With the help of Mr. Watts, R.A., and his
knowledge of the original, the sculptor has produced a wonderful
likeness, recalling to all who knew him the characteristics of Mr.
Stanley’s fine head and impressive features.  Mr. Watts, who has himself
followed the progress of the memorial for many years with keen interest,
considers it one of the finest works of art of modern times.

The inscription runs thus:—

    William Owen Stanley of Penrhos, Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey, for 34
    years a Member of the House of Commons, twin son of the 1st Lord
    Stanley of Alderley and his wife Lady Maria Josepha Holroyd.  Born
    1802, Married 1832, Ellin, daughter of Sir John Williams, Baronet, of
    Bodelwyddan.  Died 1884, and buried in this Church, whereof he
    restored the fabric.  A scholar and an antiquary, he dwelt among his
    own people in the Island of Holyhead, and gave a long life to their

    Erected by the desire of Ellin, for 44 years his devoted wife.

Over the arch of the recess behind the tomb are engraved these words:
“Till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.”

Mrs. Stanley’s wish that there should be no monument to herself has been
respected, but the effigy of her husband has been encircled with wrought
ironwork, entirely formed of her initials E and S intertwined, an idea
suggested by St. Anselm’s Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral.  The stained
glass windows were designed by Sir E. Burne Jones and executed by William
Morris, and one of them bears the inscription: “To the dear memory of
Ellin Stanley, died at Penrhos, November, 1876.”

This aisle, as a tribute to their joint memories, is now dedicated to the
glory of God, and given by Jane H. Adeane to that church which has, on
its rock beside the sea, stood firm for over thirteen centuries.

                    “The foundation of God standeth sure.”

Outside the aisle is carved the following Welsh inscription:—



Of which the following is an English translation:—

    To this Ancient Church, founded by St. Cybi about A.D. 550, this
    Chapel was added in the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria,
    A.D. 1897.

                 “Thy throne, O Lord, is for ever and ever.”

Church of St. Cybi.

        Preached on the Reopening of St. Cybi’s Church, Holyhead,
                       after Restoration, 1879, by
                      ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.,
                           Dean of Westminster.

    “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit
    whence ye are digged.

    “Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you.”

                                                          Isaiah li. 1, 2.

WE have been reading for several Sundays in church the history of the
Patriarchs.  The words of the Prophet which I have taken for my text give
us the key to that history.  We all know the value of the graces and
gifts we derive from our families.  Who is there that does not recognise
in himself or in those about him what has come to him and them from
father, mother—nay, it may even be grandfather or great-grandfather,
uncle and aunt—or what may be breathed again into him by brother, sister,
cousin.  These, if anything in the world, are gifts to us from without.
These, if anything, are gifts from God.  What we drink in, as we say,
with our mother’s milk our mother’s tongue, our mother’s faith and
prayers, it may be, our mother’s character; what we have had impressed
upon us of our father’s spirit, of our “fatherland,” of our father’s
blood—the innocent joys, the tragical sorrows of home and
household;—these are the materials out of which our souls and spirits are
fashioned.  We may have our own personal character besides, but without
these our characters would not be what they are.

       [Picture: View of Harbour from the upper Church-yard, 1822]

Now, what is thus true of the family in respect of individuals, is true
of races of men in respect both of nations and individuals; and this is
one lesson which those early chapters in the Book of Genesis impress upon
us.  They tell us of the family.  But, over and above this, they tell us
of the race; they tell us of the immense importance to the Israelites,
and through them to us, of the fact that they sprang from no ignoble or
commonplace nation, but from those whom God had specially selected for
His work on earth—from the tribe of Jacob, from the seed of Abraham, from
the race of Shem.  This is the true “predestination” of God’s counsels;
this is the true “election” of the chosen vessels.  Race and nationality,
as well as family, are the precious gifts of God, to be used and
recognised and taken account of as amongst the mighty moving powers of
the world.  If we wish to see what work we or others are called to do, we
must not forget to look back to the ancient rock from whence we are hewn,
and the deep pit from whence we are digged.

There is also the lesson which all such inquiries bring before us, and
which is specially impressed upon us by these early records of the
Bible—the advantage of being transported to remote ages and scenes wholly
unlike our own.  In those stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob there is a
freshness as of the dew of the womb of the morning.  We feel younger as
we read; they refresh us in the weary pilgrimage of life; we catch the
early fragrance of the first dawn of the human race.  There had been many
great epochs and many great men in Israel since the time of Abraham and
Sarah: there had been Jacob, or Israel, from whom they derived their name
and some of the chief elements of their character; there had been Moses,
under whom they had won their freedom and their laws, and Joshua, by
whose prowess they had conquered the Promised Land, and David, with all
the line of kings and prophets that followed.  But still there was a
charm about their first ancestor, Abraham, and their first mother, Sarah,
which they could find in no later times.  There was a delight in seeing
the peculiar blessings which they had gained from those old primitive
patriarchs, and for which they were to be ever thankful to God, through
whom these and all other gifts had come.

I.  May I take up the Prophet’s words and the lessons of the Book of
Genesis, and give them a special application which this day suggests.  We
are met to celebrate the reopening of one of the most ancient churches of
the Welsh people.  Most of the building has stood for five hundred
years—one aged arch, we are told, for a thousand years. {27}  Let us
then, Englishmen or Welshmen, who are assembled here, ask, in no spirit
of boastfulness or rivalry, but of thankfulness to God, what are the
special gifts for good which the British Celtic race has contributed to
our common country?  As the Israelites had for their ancestors Abraham
and Sarah, before their own special patriarch Israel or Jacob—ancestors
by whom they were connected with other races besides their own, Edomite,
Arabian, Mesopotamian—so we were Britons before we were Englishmen; and
we by that Celtic parentage are made one in blood with that old original
people which is parent alike to the Welsh, the Irish, the Scottish, and
the French nations.

What, then, are the best peculiarities of the Welsh people?

(1)  To the ancient Cambrian British race we owe that distant atmosphere
of romance, of sentiment, of poetry, which neither Saxon nor Norman have
given or could have given us.

These mountains and vales and creeks and bays, the refuge of the ancient
inhabitants retreating before the invader, have retained, even in their
very names and forms, a poetic inspiration which has elsewhere passed

The four Welsh dioceses each of them speak of this poetic, mystic past.
That marvellous cathedral of St. David’s, in its secluded basin at the
very extremity of the land, shut out from the world and enclosed as
within a natural sanctuary, with its craggy coast and headland and island
and glistening shore and purple cliff, every spring and bay and inlet
teeming with some strange legend of those primitive days of David and Nun
and Lily; or, again, that lovely cathedral of St. Teilo, on the banks of
the Taff, in its green vale, with its crystal stream and its solemn yews;
or, again, that lesser cathedral of St. Asaph, founded by the most
romantic of all the saints of the Celtic race of the north—the darling
Mungo of the Scottish nation—founded as he wandered to and from his own
Glasgow on the Clyde; or, again, this diocese in which we are now
assembled, with Snowdon as the guardian mount that stands round about its
small Jerusalem, this ancient refuge of the Druids and Bards of old from
the Roman conqueror, this Holy Mount of the Holy Island of Mona,
stretching out its arms to the neighbouring shore of Ireland, another
Isle of Saints:—Look at all these ancient sanctuaries, east and west,
north and south.  Look at the rock from which we were hewn and the deep
pit from which we were digged.  Despise not these feelings which God by a
thousand marks has stamped with His own peculiar approval.  Cherish these
venerable ruins and monuments of early times.

There is a legend which tells us that if we take a clod of turf from St.
David’s churchyard, and stand upon it by the shore of that western sea,
we shall see rising in the distant waters the green islands of the
fairies, the vision of a land, not indeed of heaven, but still not of
this earth.  It is by taking our stand on that old British soil that we
can catch for ourselves a glimpse of a higher, more romantic, ideal world
than any other part of English history can show.  The Bards, indeed,
themselves have perished—

    Cold is Cadwallo’s tongue
    That hush’d the stormy main;
    Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed;
    Mountains, ye mourn in vain
    Modred, whose magic song
    Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topt head.

But the world which they created still lives in that marvellous cycle of
legends which gather round the name of King Arthur, and which, in our own
day, has given to the first of our living poets the worthiest subject
which our island could furnish—the career of the stainless king and his
gallant knights, which our children and our children’s children will read
with their souls more and more raised to nobler and higher thoughts.  The
rocks and seas on which we look from Holyhead—“the shaggy top of Mona
high,”—the wide bay “where Deva spreads her wizard stream,” inspired in
Milton some of his wildest and most pathetic strains in speaking of his
loved companion Lycidas, who was lost off these very coasts.  The solid
prosaic sense of the Saxon is necessary; the energy and enterprise of the
Norman is useful; have been indispensable to the greatness of Britain;
but do not forget the romance and the song and the sentiment of the
mountains and the minstrels of Wales.  Leave a corner in your minds for
the visions of other days.  Remember that there are things in heaven and
earth more than our plain homely English philosophy has dreamed of.  Such
innocent, beautiful stories and thoughts, from whatever quarter they
come, though not in themselves religious, yet smooth and purify the
course of life.  They prepare us for the poetry of parables like the
Pilgrim’s Progress—they prepare us for the poetry of the Psalms and of
the Prophets of the Bible.  As these mountains, these bays, these rocks,
which gave to us in their early days our poetic and romantic thoughts,
have, in these later days, given to us our quarries and our harbours and
our lighthouses and our piers, so it is that out of every generous and
inspiring thought there may come at last the most solid, the most useful,
the most comprehensive materials of God’s glory and man’s usefulness.

(2)  There is another aspect of this element in the national character of
the old Celtic races.

I have said that the names of the old Welsh saints remind us of the
antique poetic phase of the national British Church.  But they also
remind us of its devotional emotions and fervent enthusiasm.  We know but
little of St. Cybi or St. Seiriol—those gaunt hermits, wrapped up in
shaggy goat-skins, with their sacred bells and their favourite animals.
But we know thus much—that they were amongst the enthusiastic spirits who
appeared in those dark times to keep up by a strange unearthly presence
the sense of things unseen.  And such as they were, with their childish
visions and their solitary musings, such was the old British Church
altogether—hardly ever leaving a permanent impression on the great
practical world without, though producing now and then a holy prelate
like St. David, now and then a holy anchorite like St. Cybi, now and then
a holy heresiarch like Pelagius.  And so in later times, the same
passionate religious sentiment has shown itself in the fervour with which
the Welsh people received the ministrations and the influence of John
Wesley and George Whitefield, and the affection with which they clung to
the hymns of their own rude Methodist poets.  Amidst much folly and much
obstinacy and much waywardness, all honour to those old saints who
achieved what the Norman prelates could not achieve,—to those Methodist
teachers who reached classes which perhaps could not have been reached by
better and wiser men.

Such enthusiasm is not sufficient by itself to produce true religion; it
is compatible with a very imperfect morality and a very low stage of
Christianity.  Still it belongs to the great central fires which keep the
human soul alive, and it has in various forms been God’s special gift to
the Celtic races of mankind, especially in this country.  If we were to
remove it out of our national existence England would not be the great
nation that she now is, and the English Church would lose one powerful
means of raising the spiritual energies of the people.  “Prove all
things,” says the Apostle, and “hold fast that which is good”; but in the
same breath, he says, “Quench not the spirit,” “Despise not
prophesyings.”  Quench not enthusiasm, despise not strong emotions:
labour only to turn them into proper channels, so that they may help to
make men more pure and more truthful—more near to God, more like to
Christ.  It is not only in the worship and teaching of our country that
this enthusiasm shows itself.  Listen to the account of the gallant deeds
of Welsh soldiers, in the letter of an English officer writing to a
friend, {32} describing the defence of Rorke’s Drift:—

    “Private John Williams was posted, together with Private Joseph
    Williams and Private William Harrison, in a further ward of the
    hospital.  They held it for more than an hour—so long as they had a
    round of ammunition left.

    “When communication was for a time cut off, the Zulus were enabled to
    advance and burst open the door.  A hand-to-hand conflict then
    ensued, during which Private Joseph Williams and two of the patients
    were dragged out and assegaied.

    “Whilst the Zulus were occupied with the slaughter of those
    unfortunate men, a lull took place, which enabled Private John
    Williams (who with two of the patients were the only men left alive
    in the ward) to succeed in knocking a hole in the partition and
    taking the two patients with him into the next ward, where he found
    Private Henry Hook.

    “These two men together, one man working whilst the other fought and
    held the enemy at bay with his bayonet, broke through three more
    partitions, and were thus enabled to bring eight more patients
    through a small window into the inner line of defence.

    “In another ward facing the hill Private William Jones and Private
    Robert Jones had been placed.  They defended their post to the last,
    and till six out of seven patients had been removed.

    “Corporal William Allen and Frederick Hitch must also be mentioned.
    It was chiefly due to their courageous conduct that communication
    with the hospital was kept up at all, holding together at all costs a
    most dangerous post, raked in reverse by the enemy’s fire from the
    hill.  They were both severely wounded, but their determined conduct
    enabled the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital, and when
    incapacitated by their wounds from fighting, they continued, as soon
    as their wounds were dressed, to serve out ammunition to their
    comrades through the night.”

Welshmen all of them.

That is the determined enthusiasm which all Welshmen ought to show not
only in the battlefield, but against our worst foes at home—the foes of
intemperance and dishonesty and hypocrisy and deceitfulness.

(3)  There is one more addition which the Welsh people, the British
element of our race, has made to the course of English history.  There is
something in the Celtic blood, something in the Cambrian stock, which,
mingling with the Saxon and Norman races, has unquestionably produced a
larger result, such as without it would, humanly speaking, have been
difficult or impossible.  That poetic refinement, that spiritual fervour,
of which I have already spoken, has, for the most part, been nourished by
seclusion from the active world.  Yet there was one channel in which the
old British character displayed itself that directly bore on practical
life—namely, the quick temper, the vivacious intelligence, which impart
to other useful qualities exactly the stimulus they most need.  Not
seldom can we trace in families the sudden turn given to a sluggish,
steady, stagnant stock of purely English extraction by contact with the
imaginative, lively, mercurial character of Welsh or Celtic parentage.
And what is thus seen in private life may be also faintly traced in the
great course of our national history.

I will not speak of individuals, though I might mention that two of the
most stirring characters who ever filled the office of Dean of
Westminster were Welshmen: one was Gabriel Goodman, one of the
translators of the Bible, friend of Lord Burleigh; the other was John
Williams, who in his earlier days was twice committed to the Tower, once
by the King, and once by the Parliament, who defended the Castle of
Conway against the army of the Commonwealth, and who now after his stormy
life reposes in the lovely church of Llandegai, the last ecclesiastical
Lord Keeper of Great Britain.

But there is a more general influence which has left its permanent mark
on England.  Within that old cathedral of St. David, of which I just now
spoke, the most conspicuous tomb which rises in the midst of it, and
which, according to the tradition of the place, saved the cathedral
itself from destruction, is that of Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII.
and grandfather of Henry VIII., who, for its sake, spared the venerable
church where it stands.  This very church of Holyhead was in great part
rebuilt in the time of Henry VII. son of that Edmund Tudor.  The rose of
the Tudor family is visible to this day on its walls.  Owen Tudor, the
ancestor of them all, was a native of this island of Anglesey.  We are
thus reminded of the fact, which we sometimes forget, that, after Saxon
and Norman and Plantagenet had done their best and passed away, a Welsh
and British dynasty at last was seated once more on the throne of
Britain, and swayed the destinies of the whole empire.

When in Westminster Abbey we pass from the tombs of the earlier kings to
the magnificent chapel of King Henry VII., it is a striking thought to
any one, especially to any one who has a drop of the ancient Welsh blood
in his veins, that he enters there on a new field of the history of
England, inaugurated by a succession of princes whose boast it was to be
descended, not from Edward the Confessor or William the Conqueror, but
from Arthur and Llewellyn, and that about the tomb of the first Tudor
sovereign, intertwined with the emblems of his English descent, is to be
seen the Red Dragon of Cadwallader.

That Tudor race, in their quick understanding, in their fiery temper, the
true representatives of their ancient Celtic lineage, were the
instruments raised up by God’s providence at the critical season of the
new birth of England in the Reformation, for guiding, stimulating,
freshening the Church and the nation to the performance of new duties,
the fulfilment of new hopes, the application of new truths.

The sharpness of wit and liveliness of mind which were amongst the
precocious gifts of Henry and Edward and Elizabeth, were common to them
with their Welsh ancestors, and contributed in no small degree to the
fresh start which England then made in the movements of that moving age.
These qualities, whenever found, though they are not the highest of
gifts, are inestimable for enlivening, cheering, enkindling the more
powerful and the more highly civilised to action and to enquiry.  Cherish
them, even if they sometimes outrun discretion; correct them, if so be,
not by repressing them, but by striving to develop the opposite gifts
which are needed to balance and to chasten them.

II.  And this leads us to two general remarks in conclusion.

(1)  First let us remember that these graces of the Cambrian or Celtic
character, which our Heavenly Father has thus vouchsafed to us, are also
by His good providence blended in the English race with exactly those
qualities which furnish their counterpoise—with that self-control, that
moral discipline, that solid steadiness of purpose, without which poetic
sentiment, religious fervour, mental vivacity are often useless, or worse
than useless.

The old hermit in his solitude, the preacher in his fervid appeal, was
good; but the honest, manly Christian, doing his duty faithfully and
truthfully in his own station of life, is better.  The sailor who
remembers on the broad sea that God’s eye is always upon him; the workman
or tradesman who endeavours to render to his Maker the best of all
services, the offering of honest labour, the offering of unadulterated
food, the offering of an upright conscientious traffic; the railway
official or partner who cheers and encourages friendless travellers by a
kindly word or by a helping hand, not for reward, but for love of his
fellow creatures,—these are the modes by which, far more than by sudden
conversion or enthusiastic hymns, we can fulfil God’s goodwill towards

(2)  Another remark, still more obvious, but one of which we sometimes
lose sight in speaking of the good influences of race and nationality, is
that the power of religion, of the Christian religion, though coloured by
these several influences, is yet above and beyond and independent of them
all.  I spoke before of the old story which tells how he who stands on
the turf from St. David’s churchyard and looks out on the western sea was
believed to see in the distance the green island of the fairies.  But
there is a still better thing that can be done by each one of us, Saxon
or Celt, Englishman or Briton, old and young, rich and poor.  Take your
stand on any good religious lesson, learnt from whatever quarter—any
piece of fresh fragment of knowledge, cut out of your inner experience—a
good text from your Bible, a good prayer from your prayer-book, a good
hymn from your hymn-book, a good counsel, or example of friend or teacher
anywhere, which has enabled you better to know yourself, and better to
know what God is,—stand fast upon it, and look out over the wide sea of
your future years, and the still wider ocean of eternity beyond, and from
that green turf of duty or of knowledge you will see in the distance the
islands, not of the fairies, but something far better—the islands of the
blessed, of the eternal shores across the stormy waves of this
troublesome world.

Such an example, such a memory, such a life {39} you have had in the
recollection of her who devoted her life to the welfare of the people of
Holyhead, who loved the Welsh nation with a constant love, who spoke
their tongue as her own, who cherished all their traditions, who longed
for the restoration of this venerable church, whose heart’s desire has
been on this day fulfilled by its reproduction in all its antique
simplicity, in all its gracious adaptation to our living needs.  She was
a Welshwoman to the heart’s core; but she was also a generous, loving,
wise, Christian spirit; and when we stand round her grave, and in this
church which is the monument of her goodness, we stand as it were on the
fragment of St. David’s turf, and we look out beyond a wider than any
earthly sea to those islands of the better land where she and the great
family of God’s servants have gone before; the islands of eternal
rest—the islands where truth and holiness have “room and verge enough” to
flourish undisturbed by earthly tempests, unwarped by the winds of
earthly cares—in the haven where they and we would all be, through the
grace of God and the power of His Spirit in our Lord Jesus Christ.

On a granite cross standing upon rocky ground near Llanfawr, is engraven
the following inscription by Dean Stanley.

    To the dear memory of Ellin, forty-four years the beloved and loving
    wife of the Honble. William Owen Stanley of Penrhos, Lord Lieutenant
    of Anglesey.  The constant friend of the poor and afflicted of her
    native Wales, with which, from youth to age, she was one in heart and
    speech, in word and deed.  Born Nov. 9th, 1809.  Died Nov. 24th,
    1876.  This was erected by her sorrowing husband.


{16}  Within the last half century, the old church of St. Cybi proved no
longer sufficient for the needs of the parish; a second church was
therefore built in 1857, dedicated to St. Seiriol, so that the memory of
both Saints still survives in the minds of their people.

{27}  The Saxon Arch opening into the Belfry at west end of the Nave of
St. Cybi’s Church.

{32}  This Sermon was preached in the Spring of 1879, during the Zulu

{39}  The Honble. Mrs. W. O. Stanley.

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