We went on a research trip to Anglesey, Wales last week. It was perfect Autumn weather, cold and bright. I had wanted to visit St Tysilio’s church on Church Island by the Menai bridge for a while, and thought it would be difficult to find even with a satnav! Anglesey is crammed with small lanes and turnoffs, I thought we would be searching for a while. Not so. The island can be accessed from a causeway that leads from ‘The Belgian Promenade’, which runs around this part of the coast.
We parked and walked through some beautiful woodland, to emerge next to the Menai Straits and the breathtaking view of the island. We were lucky that we had arrived early before anyone else, and for a short while had the island to ourselves. Once through the gates you are greeted by the huge Yew tree ( some say it’s not a yew at all but a Cypress or a pine ). It was huge and the trunk felt like old newspapers.
Many of the grave stones looked like they had been replaced with granite or slate, either way they had been kept in the original style. Being so open to the weather coming from the Straits must batter them, some of the older stones were difficult to read due to the erosion. Many were poignant, and heartbrakingly simple in design while surrounded by the ornate Victorian stones.
At the highest point of the island is a Celtic cross war memorial. It overlooks the Britannia bridge and is surrounded by some of the oldest graves. The medieval church of St Tysilio – a Welsh saint – has been there since the 1400’s and replaced an earlier chapel. Unfortunately we could not go inside.
No one knows exactly who built the chapel, a fitting mystery for the island. It is a place we will return to again, maybe in each season. Anglesey is a magical place, if you can get there, do.