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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 18:21 GMT
Island church's whitewash dispute
St Cwyfan's church
"The church in the sea" St Cwyfan near Aberffraw
Villagers have opposed plans to whitewash the walls of a medieval church on a tiny island off Anglesey.

Historic monuments body Cadw insists a limewash render is needed at St Cwyfan's near Aberffraw, as it was before Victorian times, to protect it from the sea and bad weather.

The island church can only be reached at certain times, when the tide is out.

The condition is part of a 16,500 restoration grant but local people want its weathered stone to stay untouched.

There has been a church on the rocky islet in a bay just outside Aberffraw, since 1254.

The site can only be reached at low tide and services are not held at the church on a regular basis.

Because people have become used to seeing the church as it is
John Huw Owens, Aberffraw

Many residents in Aberffraw have grown fond of its weather-beaten look.

Shop owner John Huw Owens said: "There is disagreement because people have become used to seeing the church as it is."

Andy Teale, who helped put together a local community and history website, said: "I prefer it to look weathered, I feel it would be a pity to alter it's appearance at all".

Historically wrong

But Dr Greg Stevenson from the department of archaeology and anthropology at the University of Wales, Lampeter, said the location of the church meant it was at the mercy of the sea and weather.

He added that the site's authenticity also had to be taken into account.

"There would have been lime render both inside and out originally, it would not have been stripped until Victorian times.

"Historically it is completely wrong as it is now."

St Cwyfan's vicar, Rev Madelaine Brady, said Cadw had explained that limewashing the church was essential to protect it.

She said: "We just don't want to see it fall into decay again. The weather takes its toll where it is.

"It's better limewashed and and preserved than not limewashed and deteriorating over the years."

Cadw said after tendering for the work, the 16,500 grant could now pay for rendering outside the church in addition to the inside walls, as well as repairs to the roof, walls and windows.

A public meeting was being held at Aberffraw village hall on Wednesday at 1900 GMT.

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