Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Two More Old Welsh Monastic Settlements-Llanfihangel Ystern Llewern and St Cadocs at Penrhos
This little site of an early Welsh Monastery can clearly be seen in outline. The circular Churchyard on a small mound, next to a stream of the River Trothy. It is five miles North West of Monmouth and the village, in the Saxon Hundred of Skenfrith lives from sheep farming and grassland and Fruit trees.There are 1814 acres, of which 900 are arable, 650 meadow and pasture, and 264 woodland. The surface is agreeably diversified with hill and dale; the soil is a stiff clay, producing good wheat. The Parish Church which was dedicated to St Michael-(Llan fi angel_My Angel was always Michael God’s first lieutenant) The Church is now administered by the Anglican Church. Offa’s Dyke passes through the village. This was a barrier earthwork built by King Offa of Mercia to keep out the Warlike Welsh.
Ystern Llewern seems to mean ‘Little Tavern’ .Was a small monastic settlement and the road on the Eastern side even follows around the tell tale sign of the Welsh Monastery-the curved Churchyard, the island of the Green Martyrdom of the Celtic Peoples , their version of the discipline of St Anthony of the Desert.
All we have learned from the early posts about the style of the Monastic settlement, the way it would have been cleared, the forty days of fasting and abstinence and round the clock prayer to make it holy. The building of a wooden or wattle church (some later ones even out of stone, the Romans had discovered cement, Then the small monastic houses where the religious would live with their wives and children. In many such settlements, before celibacy for priests had been decided these places worked as Christian Communes.Hospitality and charity were key.There is no evidence of Saxon development, but by Norman times it does figure in legal documents.
During the Middle Ages, the church was built in Stone The Church of St. Michael is an ancient building of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and a turret of wood and stone, containing 3 bells.. Unfortunately the church was not open for me to visit and I have no closer details of this small church, which looked wonderful in the autumn colours of its trees. When Henry the VIII founded his church, the church passed into Anglican ownership. However it was not until 1678 that records began to be kept there (thuis during the time when the College of St Francis Xavier had been founded in the Cwm in Abergavenny and while Fathers David Lewis and Father Philip Evans were the Catholic priests moving around amongst those who had been fined into attending the official royal church.
The church has 81 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Anglican Bishop of Llandaff,
You can see the chancel and sanctuary facing east, which were probably the first building. The church has been recently restored again, but probably remains locked for security reasons. Looking down from the Church on the raised ground, you an quite clearly see the mountains of Abergavenny and the arable land which suported it as a monastic settlement. If anyone can furnish any pictures of the inside of Llanfihangel Ystern Llewern (clan vee hang ell ustun clerwunn) I would be delighted to put them up.
Llangattock Penrhos St Cadoc’s at Penrhos
Whilst I was in the area I drove down to what appeared to be a larger and wealthier church of St Cadoc at Penrhos. We know that locally recusant families , banished from their former church would meet for Mass under the auspices of Father David, Father Philip or any other of the brave valiant priests of the 17th century.accused by the lies of Oates and others.
I have written much about Cadoc, son of Gwynlliw and Gwladys of Newport .His seven trips to Rome to meet seven popes, his trip to Jerusalem,his soul friendship with st Barruc of Barry, where Cadoc also had a hermitage at Cadoc’s Town. Cadoc was a true saint of Gwent and his remains lie according to manustripts at the Monastery of Mamhilad near Pontypool, now administrated by the Anglican Church in Wales, Dioceseof Llandaff.