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Looking Back: Penrhys

23 March 2019

#ValleysMag |

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This edition of looking back traces the legend and history of Our Lady of Penrhys, a statue that sits proudly outside one of Trivallis’ largest estates on Penrhys Mountain; looking over the valley below.

Legend has it that an original wooden Shrine of “Our Lady of Penrhys” or the Virgin Mary first appeared in the branches of an oak tree near the holy well. The statue was rumoured to be so beautiful that many people tried to remove it from the tree, but it would only allow itself to be retrieved once the chapel and shrine were built in the area.

The original statue survived at Penrhys until 1538 when, under Henry VIII’s attempt to end the monasteries, the Shrine was burned to the ground and the statue was taken to London to be publically destroyed.

For centuries the remains of the Shrine were still visited and, in the early 20th Century, a memorial church was built in nearby Ferndale.

In 1953 the new statue was carved, this time from Portland stone, and placed at the original site of the shrine.

Due to its religious importance, many people would take pilgrimage (a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith) to Penrhys to see the shrine.

The Penrhys Pilgrimage was one of the most important pilgrimages in Wales. It started from Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff and wound its way towards the Rhondda valley, finally climbing steeply to reach Our Lady of Penrhys, where there is also a Holy Well.

The route has fallen out of use and many parts are now in disrepair , however, The Penrhys Pilgrimage Working Party is a group that has been set up to re-map the route, improve the pathways and waymark the route by 2020.

Trivallis will be supporting this project through the #TimeForChange and regeneration initiatives we offer over the next few months.

For more information, follow us on Twitter and Facebook by searching for @WeAreTrivallis.