Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Glorious Gloucester St Peter's Abbey Church and Cathedral


Given that the stories of so many of the Lives of Gwynlliw's family were written down and detailed by the monks of Gloucester , to whom St Woolos was given after the Norman Conquest. I thought I would podcast and blog from this glorious building.Details of the history of the Abbey are from the Abbey's own website. Episodes of Dr Who and Hrry Potter have been filmed there. So in honour of the monk who wrote down all the histories , here are some details about the Abbey from the website of Gloucester Cathedral and its development

In Saxon Times

Gloucester Cathedral's history goes back a long time. In 681 King Ethelred gave Osric permission to found a monastery in Gloucester in honour of St. Peter. In 1048, A few years before the Norman Conquest of 1066, the site was used by Aldred, bishop of Worcester, to found a Benedictine Monastery.

The city of Gloucester being an important royal city at the time. William the Conqueror found the monastery in a state of decay and he appointed the first Norman abbot, Serlo, in 1072. Serlo started major rebuilding work in 1089 that lasted until he died in 1104. The abbey church he built was consecrated in 1100. When Serlo died, in 1104, h succeeded by Prior Peter and during his reign, the abbey church was given many donations of land. One of these being Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son. An effigy of Robert can be seen in the Cathedral. The abbey also became an important Benedictine house in this century.

The Cloisters and 'Harry Potter'

The cloisters lie to the north. This may have been because of a lack of open space to the south. The cloisters may have been rebuilt between the middle and late 14th century and contain the first fan vaults to be seen in Britain. Fire played its part in the development of the abbey as the original Norman church had a wooden roof and was under constant threat.

Death of Edward II

The abbey church was under constant financial threats as the cost of maintaining and adding to the building was so high. In 1284, John de Gamages became abbot at Gloucester and through his farming knowledge increased the stocks of sheep owned by the abbey and returned a profit. After de Gamages reign things again took a down turn, until the horrible death of King Edward II at Berkeley Castle. The King was buried at Gloucester and the number of pilgrims that visited the abbey gave it a much needed boost. Gloucester Cathedral was used as a location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.’ And will feature again in further films .

Re-founding of the Monastery under Aldred

In 1048 Aldred, Bishop of Worcester refounded the monastery which had first been founded by Osric in 681. In 1072, in Norman times, Abbot Serlo took over. He was William the Conqueror’s chaplain and he started major rebuilding work, dying in 1104, after he had begun work on a crypt.The Abbey Church of St Peter at Gloucester was dedicated by Samson, Bishop of Worcester, Gundulph of Rochester and Harvey of Bangor.Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror died in captivity in Cardiff Castle, where he had been locked up , since being efeated by his brother in 1106. Robert of Normandy was buried in the Abbey Church, where a brightly coloured effigy to him lies even today.

Coronation of Henry III

Henry III was crowned King at St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester in 1216 October 28th ( a year after his father King John had signed the Magna Carta at Runneymede). He was crowned by Peter des Roches Bishop of Winchester. The Earl of Pembroke , Earl Marshal of England was declared Regent. The Earls of Pembroke were all buried at Tintern Abbey.

Henry III donated one hundred and ten oaks from the forest of Dean to help in repair work at Gloucester Abbey church in 1232.

A Royal Abbey Church

Royal patronage and popular devotion led to funds flowing into the abbey, and these enabled the magnificent remodelling of the east end to be carried out in the very latest “Perpendicular” style.

In the 15th century further building work included the remodelling of the west end, the building of the south porch and of the present tower and finally, towards the end of the century, the present Lady Chapel.

The Dissolution and a New Foundation

Following from his desire to marry Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII ordered the monasteries to be dissolved and the last Abbot handed over the Abbey in 1540. The abbey buildings became Gloucester Cathedral, the seat of the new Bishop of Gloucester in Henry’s own, newly created Church of England in 1541. The monks were put out on pensions. Some starved or were taken in by friends, others made their way to Douai in France , where the Great Mission began. Many many clergy died in this event and their numbers never recorded but they were substantially , for more than were executed in the reign of Mary, Henry’s daughter, who confined herself to executing people who had had a hand in bringing about the downfall of her mother, or were preaching sedition against her person.

Bishop Hooper and Mary I

Mary I was Queen from 1553 to 1558; born 18 February, 1516; died 17 November, 1558. She was the daughter and only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain). Cardinal Wolsey was her godfather, and amongst her most intimate friends in early life were Cardinal Pole and his mother, the elderly Countess of Salisbury, put to death in 1539 and now beatified.


We know from the report of contemporaries that Mary in her youth did not lack charm. She was by nature modest, affectionate, and kindly. Like all Tudor princesses she had been well educated, speaking Latin, French, and Spanish with facility, and she was in particular an accomplished musician. She was forcibly separated from her mother, when her father callously decided to dispose of her to marry Anne Boleyn and founded his own church. Cranmer ,Ridley and Latimer, who had lectured and caused anguish to her mother and were executed and so were Bishop Hooper and others who were focal points for Protestant plotting .So Mary decided there was nothing more she could do than to enact the statutes of heresy against them, to make her own throne more stable.

The INsecurity of Mary Tudor's Throne

Unfortunately this heresyand sedition was widespread and having started with the ringleaders, who preached against her, and her undoubtedly unpopular marriage, she became alarmed and regrettably was forced to carry on rooting out the troublemakers against the religious peace of her realm. Deprived of love as a child, persecuted for her Catholic beliefs, plotted against by Somerset,( in the Lady Jane Grey conspiracy), she was very insecure, particularly as she was virtually abandoned by her Spanish husband. This insecurity forced her to rely upon her advisors, and burning was the traditional way of dealing with heretics-already employed extensively by Henry VIII and Edward VI and later by Elizabeth with much greater ferocity and in greater numbers.

Bishop Hooper was burned at the stake at Gloucester for heresy and sedition against the Queen and a monument stands outside. For that time, the death of poor Bishop Hooper was a political neccessity , and very regrettable. It was natural for heretics to be dealt with in this way in this period, but still very sad. Unfortunately, as a man in public office, he would not stop preaching against the Queen.

With contemporary eyes……..

With contemporary eyes of course,all these events were very cruel, but even well into Stuart times, ‘witches’ were burned and persecuted , priests were hung drawn and quartered just for being priests and general religious instability remained. Such people were executed out of political expediency, to shore up political security. It might also be said, that the lust of Henry V III was responsible for all these events and the death of so many.

Charles I and Cromwell

in the 1620’s Bishop Miles Smith and his Dean, William Laud had many disputes over how the new church should function The ‘umbrella’ nature of Elizabeth’s compulsory Church of England resulted in many battles over what the nature and style fo the Church of England should be and views were often profoundly different.Catholics and Puritans were heavily fined if they did not attend this church and Priests could be hung drawn and quartered if found to be ministering to their flocks. These Priests, trained at Douai and Saint Omer were often sons of local people whom they returned to serve. Titus Oates was part of a Presbyterian faction trying to influence the Church of England’ and before he was executed for his lies, managed to convince the government of a ‘Popish Plot’ which never existed. Yet 120 priests, some over 80 years of age were hung, drawn and quartered in this wave of persecutions (I reported on the John Kemble pilgrimage a while ago)

Then under Oliver Cromwell there was a move to demolish the cathedral building altogether (it was saved by the intervention of the mayor and burgesses of the City of Gloucester).

Restoration of Charles II into the Present Day

With the restoration of the monarchy (after the civil wars and Commonwealth period) in 1660, the Church of England Dean and Chapter resumed the running of the St Peter’s Abbey Church as new Cathedral and that is how it is managed today. The King’s School occupies part of the Abbey Buildings on a statute of Henry VIII. It was always a famous school, even in monastic times.
Throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries they have carried out repairs and conservation work rather than rebuilding or remodelling the building.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


On Fiday I went to visit the little restored Church of Michaelstone y Fedw near Castleton east of Cardiff.Little is known about the early history of this very ancient Church but we do have sources for its founders. St Michael is of course the powerful Archangel of God and slayer of Satan. Legend connects him to the splitting of the Skirryd mountain in the North oF Gwent at the time of the Crucifixion when the veil of the temple was rent in twain. Next Sunday, on Michaelmas, Catholics from Abergavenny will climb the Skirryd to celebrate the Feast day of the powerful Angel .

St Medwy

St Peter sent St Philip, St Joseph of Arimathea, to Northern Europe to spread the gospel of Jesus directly after the events at the Upper House. St Joseph had accompanied the Emperor Vespasian to Britain to trade for tin, so Joseph sailed to Britain, we are told, landed in Wales, possibly at the Roman fort of Caerleon (the principal port in South Wales or Cambria) Archiviragus, brother of Caractacus gave Joseph Land at Glastonbuty (The West of England was called East Wales in those days) and the family were granted land in Garth Madrun (now Talgarth in Breconshire) Jewish names are recorded in the Welsh annals at this time. Remember this was also the family of the Virgin Mary.
King Lucius(great grandson of Caractacus)-and Pope Elutherius
King Lucius British name is Llewrug Mawr. Mawr or the great luminary (hence his latinised name of Lux or Lucius).
Nickname is ‘Lleiver.’
St. Joseph's little circle of twelve disciples was kept going by anchorites – as one died another was appointed; but in course of time a certain slackness seems to have come over them. William of Malmesbury tells us that the holy spot at length became a covert of wild beasts.
He increased the Light that the first missionaries, the disciples of Christ, had brought, by sending emissaries to Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome, requesting him to send missionaries to Britain.
The Pope and the Welsh Saints
The Welsh Triads tell us that Pope Eleutherius, in response, sent St Dyfan and St Fagan, St Medwy and St Elfan, all of them British names, in AD 167.

Gildas, Liber Pontificalis,Venerable Bede

Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us that Gildas (AD 516-570) recorded the names and acts of these missionaries in a book now lost, The Victory of Aurelius Ambrosius.
The story appears again in the second revision of the Liber Pontificalis about AD 685.
The Venerable Bede,
The Venerable Bede, 673-735AD, tells the story of Lucius's appeal to Eleutherius.

Archbishop Ussher

Archbishop Ussher in his De Brittanicarum Ecclesiarum Primordiis (pp. 49-50) tell us that Medwy and Elfan were Britons who were sent as emissaries by Good King Lucius and returned with the missionaries Dyfan and Fagan.

The Monk Saints arrive at Glastonbury before they begin their ministries, Elan and Ffagan to Wales and Dyfan to the site of St Peters, Cornhill in London.Williams of Malmesbury's account ( a monk at Glastonbury Abbey, who knew its traditions)

It is noticeable that the pedigree of Dyfan, as given in the Cambrian Biography, makes him a Briton. The pedigree may be spurious, or he may have been a Briton resident in Rome. William of Malmesbury calls them Fagan and Deruvian, and Geoffrey of Monmouth Faganus and Duvanus. These missionaries journeyed through Britain and came to Glastonbury.


The Four Saints arrive at Glastonbury

There, God leading them (wrote William of Malmesbury),
“ they found an old church built, as 'twas said, by the hands of Christ's disciples, and prepared by God Himself for the salvation of souls, which Church the Heavenly Builder Himself showed to be consecrated by many miraculous deeds, and many Mysteries of healing.... And they afterwards pondered the Heavenly message that the Lord had specially chosen this spot before all the rest of Britain as the place where His Mother's name might be invoked. They also found the whole story in ancient writings, how the Holy Apostles, having been scattered throughout the world, St. Philip coming into France with a host of disciples sent twelve of them into Britain to preach, and that there, taught by revelation they constructed the said chapel which the Son of God afterwards dedicated to the honour of His Mother; and, that to these same twelve, three kings, pagan though they were, gave twelve portions of land for their sustenance. Moreover, they found a written record of their doings, and on that account they loved this spot above all others, and they also, in memory of the first twelve, chose twelve of their own, and made them live on the island with the approval of King Lucius. These twelve thereafter abode there in divers spots as anchorites - in the same spots, indeed, which the first twelve inhabited Yet they used to meet together continuously in the Old Church in order to celebrate Divine worship more devoutly; just as the three pagan kings had long ago granted the said island with its surroundings to the twelve former disciples of Christ, so the said Phagan and Deruvian (Dyfan) obtained it from King Lucius for these their twelve companions and for others to follow thereafter. And thus, many succeeding these, but always twelve in number, abode in the said island during many years up to the coming of St. Patrick, the apostle of the Irish.
Traditionally their monastery was on the site of the Chalice Well.


The site at Michaelstone-y-Fedw

Interestingly the Church of King Lucius, King oif he Silures lies nearby at St Mellons. If you go up to the Sanctuary area of this church and look to the left of the North wall, you can see filled in Roman arches. Two of these are Roman and probably date back to the fourth century, so we know a building stood here in Roman times.The Roman Road from Caerleon to Pembrokeshire was called the 'VIA LUCIA'the way of Light and interestingly also connected with Lucius.The Via Lucia ran within half a mile of Michaelstone and so either there was some kind of military post here, or a very early stone chapel built by St Medwy.

St Medwy was consecrated as a Doctor priest and perhaps this formed the core of his work. Maybe he ministered to the Roman Soldiers and people all around and was welcome on this account.The Reverend John Dale who wrote an excellent guide to the church, writes that very few churches were dedicated to St Michael before 495AD so the first Catholic presence in this spot was given by St Medwy right back in the third century, in full communion with the tradition of the Catholic Church in Rome.

Revd Dale writes:
'We cannot be certain but it is not impossible that hristian worship has been practised here for nearly two thousand years , whih would account for the sense of holiness and calm that everyone perceives on entering the building."

A picture of St Medwy is drawn on plaster next to the window in the North Wall. Experts ave said this is a picture of him and it ressembles others in Europe dating back to the 5th Century AD.

The Original Altar

The altar was consevrated by the Bishop of Llandaff in the 14th century and annointed in consecrated stone. In trying to destroy the relics in these stone altars during the tome when people wrecked these things, we are told it lay cracked on the floor of the chancel for many years and was only restored when the East Window was installed.

The Stained Glass WEast Window

This is a glorious 19th century (Church is now (Anglican) window depticting warrior saints (in comon with Roman Army, St Maurice, St Thomas, St Gerson and St Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen. The window was donated by Mrs Kemys Tate Tynte in memory of her husband Colonel Charles Kemys Tate. Above, St Cecilia and St Agatha and the main depiction is of the Ascension.

The Rood Loft and Screen

The rood loft and screen was removed in 'Reformation' times and now only the steps leading up to it still remain.

The Tynte Chapel

This is called the Tynte Chapel now, but probably earlier the Kemys Chapel. This was built in the 14th century by Sir Nicholas Kemys who lived in Cefn Mably, a grand house nearby, which interestingly also had a priests Hole! The first Norman ruler of the area had a daughter called Mabel.Under the floor is a vault containing the odies of the members of the Kemys Family. Most of the bodies were wrapped in lead following the human form. Reverend Dales says they must have been very tall men, because one has a sort of hat box on top and this was the truncated body of St Nicholas who defended Chepstow Castle againt the Roundheads and was killed or beheaded(?) after the fall of the castle to the Roundheads in 1648.

His son, who held Pembroke castle in the same year, has a plaque in the vault. The family periodically open the vault to the public so that people did not forget their sacrifice.



High pews were were installed in the church after a great fire in the church in the fifteenth century. After this a vestrey was built outside the North wall of the chapel.

The Font and the Old Oak Table

The Font dates to 16th or 17th Century. The stem is Flemish design .The serpent is probably as suggested by Reverend Dale, the emblem of the Greek god of Medicine, but also the serpent was a Celtic symbol for Christ in the Book of Kells-i.e. the snake shedding its skin as we shed off the skin of the world to become renewed in Christ.


the church was restored between 1998 and 2005 with the nave roof and its gold bosses being beutifully restored, a new heating and lighting system , renovated organ , bells refurbished and made to ring 'full circle' A modern toilet and kitchen have also been built in the tower.

Elizabeth Mackie Hess

The tombstone on the right as you leave the porch is inscribed with the name of Elizabeth Hess, first wife of Carl Hess, whose son by his second marriage was the Nazi Party's Deputy Leader Rudolf Hess.

Please visit this agnificent church . Junction 28 of the M4 to St Mellons and then right just after Castleton (signposted) It is open regularly and the key can be obained in the next door Cefn Mably Inn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Enchanted Church of Hyledd at Llanhilleth, near Pontypool


The Enchanted Church

Visit to Llanhilleth Church, dedicated to St Illtyd now. I met Frank Olding for a tour around the church, which he kindly agreed to at short notice. This church is open every Sunday afternoon.You can hear the lively conversation and us ringing the bells on the top of that enchanted mountains. The fileds and vallies all around were so magnificent and breathtaking. There is also the mound behind the church where Owain has been buried (not Owain Glyndwr but Owain Llef) Also there were remains there of a mediaeval building or hall, indicating the dwelling of a chieftain and above it a photo of the board outside the church.The present building is ascribed to the Cistercians of Llantarnam Abbey who established Granges in the area where they did sheepfarming and used the church as their church. The Cistercian brothers worked personally with the help of lay brothers.

Anyway, the churchyard has been made into a wild flower reserve, which did give an enchanted feel to the place, yet this was still holy ground and it also gave a feeling of neglect. In fact Frank Olding himself saved the church from being demolished while a young man for which we must be grateful as this really is one of the treasures of Gwent.

Hyledd was a princess of Powys, whose whole family was wiped out in Saxon attack.It seemed she took the veil and came here to this lonely mountainside near Pontypool with her remaiing friends and retainers , built a llan and then lived out her days here. She may not have been a saint, in the normal way, but perhaps a lay widow.

Her sad song tells of her distress in Canu Heledd. Perhaps the answer to the questions and prayer she utters as she and her band of straggling supporters struggled up the hill with their few remaining possessions to a place where they thought they would be safe.Few people realise this is just a stone's throw away from Pontypool.Perhaps she decided to offer up her suffering to the Lord.

Cynddylan’s hall is dark tonight,
without a fire, without a bed.
I will weep for a while; afterwards I will fall silent.

Cynddylan’s hall is dark tonight
without a fire, without a candle.
Except for God, who will give me sanity

Cynddylan’s hall is dark tonight,
without a fire, without a light.
Grief comes to me because of you

Cynddylan’s hall is black of roof
after having a fine company.
Sorrow that it is not good which befalls it

Cynddylan’s hall is loveless tonight
after he who owned it.
Oh death, why does it leave me behind

Cynddylan’s hall, not comfortable tonight,
on the top of a chief crag,
without a lord, without company, without soldiers.

Cynddylan’s hall is dark tonight,
without a fire, without songs.
Tears wear away the cheeks.

Cynddylan’s hall is dark tonight,
without a fire, without a warband.
Abundant [my tears] where it falls.

Cynddylan’s hall is slow tonight
after losing its lord.
Great merciful God, what shall I do? (Verses fro Canu Heledd)

Yes those Saxons had a lot to answer for!

The holy people would have consecrated the ground in the same way as the other saints. Behind the church is the farm, which the Cistercians would have worked and there is also to be found a well, Ffynnon Llanhyledd. If Al is around with his camera, I would love a really good photo of Llanhylledd well as we are beginning to have a collection on here and I know a lot of people google M in M for holy wells, not available elsewhere.

Since Frank has been so closely associated with this church, and its restoration after 800 years(!) I will let him tell you about Church in his own words-extracts of which I publish here.

St Illtyd's Church

St Illtyd's church is without doubt the oldest standing building within the County Borough of Blaenau Gwent. Although currently dedicated to St Illtyd, the original dedication of the church was to St. Heledd or Hyledd, as evidenced by parish lists of the 16th and 17th centuries (Baring-Gould 1911, 254). This gave the place-name Llanhyledd of which Llanhilleth is an anglicised form. Brynithel is probably a variant of Brynhyledd and not to be connected with the death of King Ithel of Gwent in 848 AD, which took place at Aberysgir in Powys (Jones 1952, 135).

Current archaeological thinking marks St Illtyd's large, roughly circular churchyard as an indication of a pre-Norman foundation date (Brooke 1980, 72 et passim) and the earliest written reference to the church is found in a poem of the 9th or 10th century in Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin ("The Black Book of Carmarthen")(Jarman 1982, lix). This is a small Welsh manuscript written about 1250. It is the work of one scribe, a monk of the Priory of St. John in Carmarthen, and contains a collection of poetry much older than the manuscript itself.

Among the poems is a series of short verses known as Englynion y Beddau ("The Stanzas of the Graves") which was composed in the ninth or tenth century. The poems list the graves of Welsh heroes, the past vigour of the hero being contrasted with the desolation of his grave. Many of the identifiable places appear to be ancient burial sites such as cairns or cromlechs.

Among them is:
Gwydi gurum a choch a chein.
A. goruytaur maur minrein.
in llan helet bet. owein. (ibid., 37)
After things blue and red and fair
and great steeds with taut necks,
at Llanheledd is the grave of Owain.

It seems likely that the "grave" referred to in the poem is the large mound near the church. (see my photo!) This is usually regarded as a Norman motte, probably dating to the 11th or 12th century. It is more than possible that the motte was built over an earlier mound - probably a prehistoric barrow or cairn.

The Owain referred to is Owain the son of Urien - a real person who later grew into a legendary hero in medieval romances. In real life, he was the son of Urien, the 6th century king of Rheged. Rheged was a Welsh kingdom that covered the Solway Firth, Carlisle and all the area now known as Cumbria. Owain and Urien fought bravely against the Anglo-Saxon invaders and their deeds are recorded in poems by their court poet Taliesin. After his death, Owain became a legendary hero, the stories told about him moved to Wales and he became associated with the Arthurian cycle of tales. He is the hero of the 12th century tale "The Lady of the Fountain" which is one of the stories of the Mabinogion (Stephens 1998, 546). Why such an early poem connects Owain with Llanhilleth is a mystery.

Heledd was also a real person who lived in northern Powys in the early 7th century. Her brother, Cynddylan, was king of Powys until he was killed by the Anglo-Saxons. She appears in Canu Heledd ("The Song of Heledd") another series of poems, also composed in the 9th or 10th century. The poems are the verse highlights of a lost prose saga. In them, Heledd laments the destruction of her home and the death of Cynddylan and her other brothers. She seems to blame herself for the disaster that has befallen them (Stephens 1998, 87).

Sefwch allan, vorynnyon, a syllwch
Gyndylan werydre.
Llys Benngwern neut tande.
Gwae ieueinc a eidun brotre. (Williams 1935, 33)

Stand forth, maidens, and look upon
The land of Cynddylan;
The court of Pengwern is blazing,
Woe to the young who yearn for their brothers.

Once again, why this small church on a barren Gwent hillside should be dedicated to a 7th century princess of Powys is not known!

Cistercians of Llantarnam Abbey

With the foundation of the Cistercian Abbey at Llantarnam sometime between l175 and 1179, the parish came under the control of the White Monks (Davies 1953, 98). The monks owned the manor of Wentsland and Bryngwyn that contained land in the parishes of Llanhilleth, Trevethin and Aberystruth.

Known as the White Monks from the colour of their habit, the Cistercians chose remote sites for their abbeys and were dedicated to simplicity of living. Using outlying granges to farm their land, they became major agriculturalists, running huge flocks of sheep over the mountains of Wales.

The granges, which mostly date from the 13th century, consisted of enclosures containing granaries, stalls and pens for livestock, living quarters for lay brothers and hired labourers and, in some cases, a chapel (Cowley 1977, 78). Arail Farm was also a grange of Llantarnam Abbey.

There is more and more evidence that the Cistercians were building chapels on or nearby their granges (Williams 1976, 81-82) and it is likely that they were responsible for building the present church sometime during the 13th or 14th centuries (Rees 1948).

Most of the fabric of the church probably belongs to that period, though the font may have belonged to the original pre-Norman building.

John Wesley

John Wesley visited the parish in April 1740 during his second visit to Wales. On Tuesday, April 8th, in the company of Howell Harris, he travelled from Pontypool to Llanhilleth and preached there on the text “I know that in me dwelleth no good thing”. He stayed overnight and, the next morning, read prayers at St. Illtyd’s church before preaching on “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely”. He then travelled on to Cardiff (Williams 1971, 6-7).

In the autumn of 1799, the church was visited by Archdeacon Coxe on his “Historical Tour in Monmouthshire”:
“At Lanhiddel we baited our horses at a public house, and strolled, in the midst of a violent shower, to the church, which is situated on the summit; it is a small but ancient gothic building, constructed in the most simple form, without a tower of belfry, the bells being placed under the roof, and the ropes descending into the church. The church yard is panted with twelve old yews, which surround the church, and add to the solemnity of the scene: it is dedicated to St. Ithel, with whose merits and genealogy I am wholly unacquainted.”(Coxe 1801, 252-3) Frank Olding 2007

Thank you so much for that, Frank

The Mysterious Haunting

Frank told me about two Americans who had visited the church wilst it was almost derelict. They were unable to gain entrance, and seeing the 19th century font trough the window, they took a photo of it-and when it was developed they saw the ghostly head of the woman emanating from the font. Frank was adamant it was a woman's ghostly head! Was this Heledd? I left with a bit of a shiver!

Don't forget the mega rosary at Tintern Abbey on Sunday (21 Sept) at 3pm.