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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 18:25 GMT
Medieval church restoration excitement
St Teilo's Church being rebuilt at St Fagan's
Restoration has been going on for ten years
A medieval church from west Wales which is being faithfully reconstructed at the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagan's has been handed back to members of its congregation.

St Teilo's Church is in the process of being reconstructed at the museum outside Cardiff - the latest in a series of traditional Welsh buildings to be put up there.

Reverend John Walters
Reverend John Walters: Dereliction

When it is complete it will be the only solid masonry church in Europe to have been rebuilt stone by stone in this way.

Now, 10 years into the project, the west gable has been completed.

To mark the occasion members of the chuch's congregation were invited to see the work so far.

The last service was held at the church's original site at Pontarddulais in 1970 and the vicar Reverend John Walters said he was delighted at the reversal in the church's fortunes.

"Seeing it here reminds me as it was 18 years ago when I arrived at the parish and it was derelict on the marshes."

"But now I see the dereliction is being reversed."

Public interest

The restoration work has uncovered a series of wall paintings dating from the 16th century.

"On the north wall there was a picture of St Catherine with the spiked wheel with which the Romans tried to torture her to death and the spear with which she was eventually killed," said historian Dr Madeleine Grey of the University of Wales, Newport.

Old St Teiilo's Church
The church closed more than thirty years ago

"And on the south wall was a picture of Christ, before the crucifixion, roped and bound and sitting before the cross."

The painstaking restoration has caught the public's imagination too.

"We have already received over 1,000 inquiries about the church and excitement is mounting among the public, academics and staff alike as the buildings slowly take shape," said Ffion Gruffudd. a member of the project team.

A pause in the work was taken on Satruday to mark the patronal day of St Teilo, the Welsh saint after whom the church is named.

St Teilo led a Christian community in south Wales in the sixth century.

According to legend, he fled with his followers to Brittany when yellow fever broke out in Wales, before eventually returning to Llandaff in Cardiff, where he died in 566AD.

Then the work will continue until St Teilo's Church looks as it did in 1520.

BBC Wales' Caroline Evans
"St Teilo's Church at Pontarddulais is one of Wales's hidden treasures"
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