Llangynog, Powys: This shrine for a patron saint of wild creatures lies at the centre of a shooting estate

Pennant Melangell lies two miles up the narrow road, hazel-hedged, thronged with coveys of now rare grey partridge (Perdix perdix) that hurry nervously in front of you and dart through fences into fields on either side. Steep, conifer-planted slopes crowd in. There is a sense that this must once have been a secret wilderness place – the kind to which story attaches, becoming thus places of pilgrimage.

The legend runs that Melangell fled to Wales to avoid a forced royal marriage in Ireland, and here under the hill barrier of the Berwyn found her place of prayer and retreat – until the day that Brochwel, prince of Powys, came hunting with hounds and horn. A hare sought shelter from them in Melangell’s robes and the dogs’ savagery was cowed by her sanctity. The prince, wishing to possess her beauty, offered marriage; when she refused, he granted her instead the valley-lands for a monastery.

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Read More Country diary: no sanctuary for hunted partridge at Melangell’s church

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