The Galilee Chapel that adjoins Saint Illtud’s Church to the west is thought to have been first built in the 13th century. It may originally have been a Lady Chapel, but it also served as a ‘galilee’, the starting point of a church service, recalling that it was in Galilee that Christ commenced his ministry.
Our Galilee acquired a new function as a ‘chantry chapel’ in the 15th century, when wealthy landowners the Raglan family settled in Llantwit Major. It was Hugh Raglan around 1470-80, that endowed a chantry – paying a priest to say prayers for the souls of the family every day. The illustration below shows the Raglan family and members of their household arriving for a votive mass service. Note the highly decorated walls and panels, with paintings depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary.
llustration of the Galilee Chapel in the late C15 by Chris Jones-Jenkins
Re-imagining a roofless ruin
Chantry chapels did not survive the Reformation. They were abolished in 1547 during the reign of Edward VI. The Galilee Chapel was undoubtedly reused for other purposes initially, but it eventually became a roofless ruin.
It was during the celebrations of the Millennium and of 1500 years of unbroken Christian worship here at Llanilltud that plans were formulated to rebuild the Galilee and to move the Stones into a more suitable setting.