Cilwendeg Shell House Hermitage - Atlas Obscura

Cilwendeg Shell House Hermitage

Newchapel, Wales

This magical grotto is adorned with a complex pattern of native seashells, minerals, and fragments of colored glass. 


The Cilwendeg Shell House Hermitage was built in 1820, and thanks to a restoration project in 2004, the mysterious and impressive structure still stands. It was built by Morgan Jones the Younger of the Cilwendeg Estate, who constructed it as a shrine for his late uncle, Morgan Jones the Elder, who lived much of his life as a recluse from society.

It’s coated from head to toe in seashells and minerals from local beaches, as well as fragments of colored glass. These are fixed into walls made of lime mortar panels to present a small, colorful, and well-preserved shell house hermitage.

Even in summer, the inside of this structure is dark and mysterious. But if you let your eyes adjust to the light, you’ll see that no surface has been left undecorated—even the floor.

The Cilwendeg Shell House is only open on Thursdays in the summertime, although you can stand outside and admire it any time of the year. It can be difficult to find, but once you’re there, you’ll know it was worth the challenge.

Some locals say that you’ll have to find a local historian who serves as the gatekeeper to the hermitage, and that you’ll have to find him and get the key from him before you can go inside.

Know Before You Go

Vans/buses are not allowed in the car park under any circumstances. Visitors should follow signs from the car park to find the shell house.

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