Tuesday 25 October 2011

Church of the Holy Cross, Ilam

Much of Ilam church is Norman or early English; the base of the tower, for example, is 13th Century. Like many other churches, however, there have been later additions. Mainly, these came in the 17th and 19th century and included two chapels.

There is also evidence of the Saxon origins of this church, most notable of which is the stone font, carved with dragons and people.

The Saxon connection goes back to St Bertram, an 8th century Saxon Prince of Mercia. Bertram travelled to Ireland to marry an Irish princess. On the way back, they stopped off at Ilam because his wife had given birth. While she rested, Bertram went off to find food, only to discover on his return, that a wolf had attacked and killed his wife and child. Heartbroken, he remained here, giving up his royal claims and devoting himself to prayer and meditation for the remainder of his days..

His tomb is inside the church in the chapel built specifically for that purpose in 1618. In the Middle Ages, the tomb was a place of pilgrimage and believed to have miraculous healing powers.

These days, the pilgrims are mainly tourists, including us, on our walk :)

We're heading on past the church and up the side of Bunster Hill.


  1. I can't even imagine that kind of tragedy in someone's life! Yikes. Looks like a beautiful safe place now :o)

  2. It really is a beautiful little church; though it's a few years since I last went inside. From memory one of the chapels is a cross between a mausoleum and a chapter-house in appearance because of the tomb H mentions. You can't normally enter it but if someone sings in the doorway of the chapel whilst facing into it, it has the most wonderful acoustics which belie the small size.

    Well worth a visit

  3. Awww, sad story but such a beautiful place. And everything is so green, I love it!

  4. What a beautiful Church for a Pilgrimage, I really need to go there.
    When I am in Japan I always visit as many temples as I can and buy the "charm" the priests sell for healing. I would fit right in here.

    Lovely photos as always.
    How wonderful that you are able to live in such a beautiful place.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. What an incredibly sad tale! It does, however, add enormously to the appeal of what is already, in and of itself, a beautiful piece of architecture. Stunningly lovely pictures as always, H!

  6. The church is beautiful inside. I loved seeing it in the last TV adaptation of Jane Eyre. The legend of St Bertram answers a question that has always puzzled me. When I wrote a post about the legend of the dog Gelert someone asked in a comment if it was also connected to Ilam church - I can see now that here is a similar tale with differing consequences:)

  7. Good story but I don't see you heading anywhere. I can see the airplane taking off from Midlands though. Sorry, wrong post. Great photos in lovely afternoon October light.

  8. Beautiful church and sad story. This is just the sort of church that all of us imagine as the perfect English Country Wedding setting.