Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I have had an unbeluievably busy few weeks with very little time to call my own, and asadly not evben enough time to post my Christmas Podcast.Then I have been ill for the last few days with a heavy cold and having to get ready for travelling. I think my facebook friends can contact me there-or you can contact me on 'maryinmonmouth@googlemail.com. I hope perhaps on 27th or 28th to put up my Christmas Special and may even get around to blog about our travels if I take my laptop with mje tomorrow. I have a problem with castblaster which only seems to work with XP and so am completely puzzled as my microphone will not work, yet does if I use only files from the Zoom H2 ehivh is good quality but rather limiting as I can't mix sounds. Hopefully I will get some help soon over this.

I will see what I can do tomorrow!

Can I wish all readers and listeners a happy and holy Christmas and also a happy and healthy new year. There are big surprises in store in the podcasts and in the blogs as we go deeper into Mediaeval devotions.

Highlight of the year was the visit of the relics of St Theresa when 4,000 people turned up in Cardiff to venerate her, including all sorts of Christians as wel;l as Catholics, all clutching red roses and candles! Beautiful!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pilgrimaqge in the steps of St Hywyn and St Derfyl-Our Summer Holiday

17th August 2009

We left Chirk after another excellent breakfast (mine somewhat small because of the diet) and drove of towards Bala. I did want to call in on Gwyddelwern. This was said to be a settlement of St Beuno . It proved to be a challenge for the satnav, but we did find it-and it was locked-even the gate into the church was locked, so it was a dead loss. We drove half a mile north of the village to find the well, but this proved to be elusive. We thought we had found it, but in the height of the summer it was possible that the well had dried up.


We found a stream but not a well and so that was unsuccessful.We drove down to Bala, passing through Llanderfyl. Now we have a Llanderfyl in Cwmbran, where Arthrwys’s soldier friend had become a hermit and established a small community. I was eager to see a surviving relic of the reformation- the stag upon which St Derfyl had ridden on his memorial statue in the church. St Derfyl could have been the patron saint of vets.

He was brilliant at curing animals particularly from their ailments. There was reputedly a statue at Cwmbran as well. Both statues, like that of Our Lady of Penrhys were quite wickedly dragged off to England to be burned at Smithfield. The legend of St Derfyl said, that one day if it were ever destroyed a whole forest would be set on fire. It suited the rather wicked people at that time, that to burn poor Father Forrest on the pyre of these wooden statues was funny. The stag remained in the church. One vicar tried to wreck it, and it remained in the chancel for many years. Now it is out in the porch. Masses and Divine Office was once said and sung here. I said another Rosary , after photographing the remains of the stag and other artefacts and after locking up the church, returned the key to the old peoples home from whence it had come.

Stop off at Portmeirion

Bala and Llyn Tegid were a poem in the Autumn sunshine. Wonderful colours and scenery as we drove further into the Snowdonia National Park arriving at Portmeirion in the early afternoon. This was a most interesting place for the family, including a swimming pool and hundreds of different Italian styled architectural exhibits. Some of them were hotel rooms, others just shells, with nothing inside, a fad of Clough Williams Ellis. We spent about two hours looking around and managed to find some food there too. It really was like walking into Italy or Spain-such a load of colour. Bookshops, paddling pools for little children ,a swimming pool, dog cemetery and the all important ‘Prisoner Shop’ as ‘The Prisoner ‘ with Patrick Magoohan was filmed here in the 1960s. I bought a couple of books after a long walk. A children’s book about St David and ‘What Welsh Plae Names Mean’ and ‘Wales before 1530’ which proved very interesting indeed.

Lleyn Peninsula to Aberdaron

Driving off again we started the long journey down the Lleyn peninsula to Aberdaron. My son leapt with joy at seeing the sea just over the road and ran off to leap into the sea with great abandon. He returned very cold when it was almost dark. We loved our room in the comfortable pilgrims pub ‘The Ship’ although we ate in the Gwest opposite. I walked into St Hwyn’s Church which was the pilgrim’s church and where people would say Mass before leaving for Bardsey Island, the holy mystical island at the end of the journey.

There has been a place of Christian worship at the edge of the sea at Aberdaron since the fifth century. At first a simple wooden structure housed both Hywyn and his prayer cell where the Gospel was preached to the few villagers whose humble cottages clung to the side of the cliffs and whose livelihood depended on the sea and the few acres of soil in which they grew crops.
Cadfan, the warrior saint, who travelled from Brittany with Hywyn, moved on to Enlli, the island off the tip of the Llŷn peninsula. There he set up a religious house, later to be dedicated to St Mary. To both men these were places of their resurrection. Places where they felt God had called them to live, to pray and to die.
The title 'saint' in the early Catholic Church was often by acclamation of the people before the Congregation ofSaints was set up in the Twelfth century.The Bishop of Hereford created St Issui saint, and so such holy men were aclaimed by bishops locally.

Griffudd (Griffith)ap Cynan

In 1137, Gruffydd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd, began erecting stone churches to replace the wooden buildings in the most important parishes and so the oldest portion of St Hywyn's Church dates from this time. It became a sanctuary church within which, on the stone chair called the chair of peace, disputes could be settled and no fugitive could be ejected for 40 days and nights.

St Hywyn's Church was also a clas church, similar to a monastic settlement but without affiliation to a particular rule -an association of clergy working together and leading a common life under the authority of a chosen leader or Abbot. The clas was maintained long after the Normans set out to break up such organised structures and was followed by a portionary church - a network of benefices held by individuals, usually following a family tradition - without corporate ties. The revenues were divided into portions among the clergy in charge of the area.

In 1417, the church at Aberdaron was enlarged. Records show that it was still closely connected with St Mary's Abbey on Bardsey.
When Henry VIII broke from the Church in 1536, the monasteries were closed and for a short while the Diocese of Bangor benefitted from a revitalised church served by devout priests, but gradually decline set in and sinecure rectors with no parish duties to perform were in charge and paid vicars to take on the duties of parish priest.

St John's College Cambidge vicar struggles to speakWelsh

In 1624, St John's College, Cambridge became the patron of the parish and remained so for almost 300 years. The Rectors in the 17th & 18th centuries seem to have been instituted by the Bishop of Bangor and 'read themselves in' by the saying of Matins. Rowland Simpson was required to take services in Welsh even though he did not speak the language, those before him taking the services in English.

Bardsey Island-The Holy Island of 20,000 Saints!

Aberdaron is the starting point for Bardsey Island.
Saints Cadfan and St Hwyn came to found a llan on the island, after hermits had been there for sometime. In Norman times, St Mary’s Abbey came into being and its ruins can still be seen. I was thrilled to be coming to go to the island, the highlight of the pilgrimage and I managed to buy in the bookstall a copy of ‘Monks of Ynys Enlli’ and ‘Monks of Ynys Enlli II’ (being Normans and beyond) The pilgrim church of St Hywyn had originally been a single chambered church with few windows as you would expect so near the sea, which was literally outside.I was also interested to note that RS Thomas, the wonderful poet had been vicar there for part of his life.


I went back to the hotel and we went to sleep getting up early for the trip to Bardsey Island. At last I was going to step on to the Island of 20,000 saints, where St Madryn had built her church. (This was St Materiana of Gwent and Cornwall), Where Dyfrig (St Dubricius)had died and been buried before his relics were brought back to Llandaff. I was looking forward to stepping on the holy island.

Tuesday 18th August 2009

Alarm at 8 and then we dressed in our warmest clothes as there was a strong wind blowing and a hint of rain in the air. Ian and Christian went off to the car and I went with them and then Ian rang the boatman on the payphone (as there was no mobile reception!) To my tremendous disappointment (and no one who knows how much I had looked forward to treading on that island can doubt how disappointed I was) There was no prospect of any sailing for a few days because of forecasts of strong winds. I fought to hide my disappointment. I know the others knew how it was and they were anxious to help. Instead, we decided to do the pilgrims route in reverse and visit two sites on the way to Caernarfon, where pilgrims would stop on their way to Bardsey. A trip around Caernarfon Castle was included for fun at the end.

More later frm the pilgrimage¬!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coedkernew-The Woods of St Pedrog ap Glywys the Cornishman

Coedkernew Church

I visited this Church in November 2009 but found it with great difficulty. Coedkernew is a small parish four-and-a-half miles from Newport, on the Cardiff road, and two miles from Marshfield station, The Church is dedicated to All Saints, and contains 130 seats, and annexed to it is that of St. Bride's, Wentloog. The registers date from the year 1733. Early llan, though it is and a hermitage in his wood , and St Pedrog ap Glywys being the son of two saints-Gwynlliw and Queen Gwladys, I found it had become a gated private dwelling.

The Church had obviously been sold to a private person – which is better than falling into disuse, but the house was so private it was difficult even to see the outline of the church. Trees disguised the shape of the tower and the wood completely surrounded it, so it could not even be photographed any longer. I therefore put before you an early sketch of the church, much as it looks today but covered over with trees and shrubbery and a very large gated fence.

So who founded the church of All Saints? The present building seems to be a Victorian rebuilding of the original mediaeval church, which was administered by the Clunaic monks of St Mary’s, Glastonbury along with St Bride’s Wentloog, which appears to have been a kind of grange or even priory of this abbey, as the heads of the monks can be seen in the 13th century nave. Somewhere, no doubt pictures exist of the inside of Coedkernew Church , and if anyone knows of anyone who has them , please send me some to put up here. So where did Coedkernew get its name?

St Pedrog ap Glywys Cernyw

Coedkernyw was given its name from a llan or hermitage of St Pedro gap Glywys the son of Gwynlliw Filwr,ab Glywys ab Tegid by St Gwladys, Daughter of the saintly King Brychan Brycheiniog. He was thus a brother of St Cadoc (Cattwg).He is mentioned as an ‘honoured saint’.

To him is said to have been formerly dedicated the church at Coed Cernyw, the ‘Cornishman’s wood’ now on the site of All Saints’ Church,Coedkernyw. He appears to have died a martyr as ‘Merthyr Gluis’ is mentioned in the book of Llandaff, the name which is preserved at Clivis, in Newton Cottage, Glamorgan.

The Cornish Church of St Gluvias is also probably dedicated to Glywys.There was a chapel in Lanherne (see my article on Lanherne Friars) dedicated to St Gluvias and the farm by it, the descendant of the little monastery of St Glywys.His Feast was on the first Sunday in May.(not officially commemorated nowadays) In the Domesday Book this was called St Guillant and in the Exeter transcript Sain Guilan.

Glywys was quite out of the region except from Gwentian settlers, but Glywys belonged to a later generation and hence did not come into Cornwall until the settlement in the North was a ‘fait accompli’and the excitement and resentment of the Gwentian invasion had subsided, which is why his church is found on the ‘Fal’. St Clenzen is another variant at Treguier, Cornwall, and he was replaced by St Cletus, Pope, and it may have been Glywyz, then Cleuzen. In the parish, however, there is a church dedicated to his brother, St Cadoc.

His grandfather, Glywys ap Tegid founded the church at Machen (now St Michael), but there is no evidence of his canonisation by acclamation.Glywys gave his name to the [rincipality of Glwysing (lower courses of the Usk and the Towy) but did not include all of Glamorgan.In the preface to the life of St Cadoc, he is said to have had ten children, between whom Glwysing was shared upon his death but Pedrog (St Glywys Kernyw) gave up his inheritance and left for Cornwall.(gave up a ‘transitory for perpetual inheritance’)

Since Coedkernew lies so closeo Peterstone,it may be that Pedrog was also the inspiration for the foundng of this. Pedrog meaning 'Peter'.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Magic of the Moor-Peterstone Augustinian Church-Petra Petri

The Names- Welsh Latin and Saxon

Ths Church was once the Monastery of St Arthfael and Augustinian Cell (Petra Petri-Llanbedr Gwynllŵg-Holy Place of Peter (Pedr) in Wentloog.),Petra Petri as it is also called in papal records in Rome means 'the Rock or Stone of Peter-Peter Stone' asChrist said to Peter:'Upon this rock I will build my church!'.

The Rule of St Augustine of Hippo in Monmouthshire

I mention Peterstone, as it became Augustinian in the early days after Wentloog was conquered by the Normans. Later it proved-although it serve for a hundred years or so as an Augustinian Priory of Bristol Abbey, when the plan became unfeasible, as not enough financial supportwas i the deal from the Lord of the Manor, there was another planto found a purpose built monastery at St Peter's in Rhymny which also failed, leaving St Peter in the Moor as a small church served by monks, one of severa in the area.

Robert de la Haye and Wentloog

When Robert Fitzhamon came to divide up the lands of South East Wales, one of his manor lords, Robert de la Haye received the cantref of Gwynllwg as his share, to be held by the service of four knight’s fees. It was Robert de la Haye who built the Motte and bailey Castle on Stow Hill, called then Stow Castle, just next to Gwynlliw’s Church of the Virgin Mary. Bruce Copplestone Crowe believes this may have been built by William Rufus in 1075. Robert’s influence extended throughout Wentloog or Gwynllwg. Robert took pains to reform on more sound and orderly lines the canonically sound (in Norman eyes)Welsh church, and first of all gave St Woolos, Gwynlliw’s Celtic monastery to the monks of St Peter’s in Gloucester. William II (Rufus) had already given the house to St Peter’s Abbey in Gloucester.

Benedictine Monks of Gloucester at St Woolos

It was a monk of Gloucester Cathedral who collated and made records of the life of Gwynlliw and his legends, and that of his family. The church had been acquired by Rufus in 1075.He also gave other churches and properties for his beautiful abbey of Tewkesbury. Robert's two largest grants were however to two Somerset houses one already an abbey.

Monatacute was a daughter house of the now Clunaic house of Glastonbury Abbey and to this Abbey the churches at Coedkernew, Marshfield and St Bride’s Wentloog were given. His gifts to Somerset houses were perhaps to curry favour with the Count of Mortain, whose lands were in the west Country. Clunaic Montacute had also been founded by Robert de la Haye. Bassaleg had actually also been the clas Church of St Gwladys,Gwynlliw’s wife, but as we have already learned it was given to the Clunaic monks of Glastonbury, who were a much stricter order of monks than the more usual Benedictines.Malpas was given to Montacute. Robert and Gundreda Fitzhamon were more than generous with their largesse, as was their devout daughter Mabel, commemorated at nearby house called Cafn Mably, where she lived sometimes.

Little Holland

The boundaries of Bassaleg priory therefore went right through the Moor (Wentloog level-Marshfield) along the line of the Broadway Rhyn-which used to be called ‘Dufeles’ by the Welsh. The village of Peterstone with its church of St Peter in the Moor lies on the Wentloog Levels halfway between Newport and Cardiff on the coast road stretching from St Brides to Rumney. The area is known as 'Little Holland', because of its many ‘rhyns’ or small ditches and flatness. These places are mentioned in the charters of Bassaleg priory.See the Broadway ditch above.

The Original Dedication of the whole 'llan' church and monastic buildings-now on the sites of the houses round the church, was to Gwentian Prince and Saint Arthfael.

The Church is called Petra Petri or (Peter Rock) or Peterstone and even St Peter in the Moor in papal records and others in Mediaeval times. Whilst Peter was one of the greatest of the saints, it was originally –there in the middle of the moor- an island of the Old Welsh monks, probably dedicated to St Armagillus, and a chapel of St Armagillus was attached to the old church and destroyed during the Reformation. The settlement would have been prepared with prayer and fasting in the usual way and had a wall around it , separating the world from heaven.

Bruce Copplestone Crow guesses Armagillus is actually St Arthmael or St Arthfael, whose hermits pushed into the Augustinian Order in Norman times, because the origins of early Welsh monasticism were also with St Anthony of the desert and St Augustine. This chapel would have not been in St John’s Church, Rhymney, which Robert de la Haye was thinking of considering the founding as an Augustinian monastery. It is more likely he thinks that St Arthmael’s monastery became St Peter’s and blossomed to become the amazing ‘Cathedral of the Moor ‘ of gothic architecture, which the preset ownersare taking care to preserve. It was always known to have been , like St Kynemark’s (St Cynfarch’s near Chepstow) in existence perhaps even from the sixth century, the era of David and the saints.

Identity of the King-Saint

Bruce Copplestone Crowe says Bartrum, an expert on the period has said it was a name used by three historical kings or princes of Glwyssing and Gwent in the eight to tenth centuries. As Artmali or Arthmael it occurs as the name of laymen and religious and priests on ninth and eleventh century inscribed stones at Llantwit Major and Ogmore in Glamorgan and in the twelfth century, the Life of St Cadoc (Vita Sancti Cadoci) as the name of a king (BCC thinks probably fictitious) who ruled the lands by the river Neath (Nedd) in Glamorgan in the sixth century.

It was therefore a name which was in common use in South east Wales from the sixth to the twelfth centuries. The question is, which of these Kings was the saint? We have already noted how so many of the ancient saints came from the royal houses of the three holiest families of Wales, especially Brychan Brycheiniog who gave his name to Brecon. The royal houses had the means to fund monasteries, their servants and friends joining them in these monasteries and accompanying them on their travels usually between Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Britanny.

BCC goes further by distilling several mediaeval lives of the saints, picking out the common characteristics. That he existed is not in doubt, since he has three churches dedicated to him in Brittany. BCC gives us these ideas and believes he was a native of the cantref of Penychen who studied in an unnamed monastery in South East Wales. The main theological colleges were at Caerwent , or possibly at Caerleon, where St Dyfrig had revived the ancient Roman school or college.

Mamhilad may also have been a possibility, as it is where St Cadoc’s body was taken to escape from marauding Saxons and the abbot of that college and monastery was called Caroncinalis . He then left for Brittanny (Armorica) and founded a monastery at St Armel de Boschaux , a few miles south of Rennes of which he became an abbot. He was a contemporary of St Childebert of Paris (511-558). He was not credited with any churches in Wales, but perhaps with Melanus (Mellon) also being active in France before returning to Wales .

Saint Melanus, St Mellons, Saint Malo (Same Person!) St Mellons (of St Malo)

probably returned home with news of Arthmael’s ministry and Christian actions. He was also celebrated in Cornwall , where he had a church dedicated to him at Stratton near Bude and a Church at St Erme, near Truro as well as the two others in Britanny. Saxon and Norman settlers may have changed the name of the little monastery to St Peter –also venerated in Wales (as in Llan Pedr-Lampeter)and other places, but among the native Welsh, clearly Arthmael never lost his popularity and the name persisted at Peterstone for another four hundred years in the name of St Armagillus. It probably still looks very much like it does today, but with smaller and less houses. With what sadness these monks were moved out of their home to St John’s in Rhymney nearer Robert’s castle and finally te native welsh monks pushed out to a cold stone monastery at Flatholme , where Gildas was active at one time in his hermitage in Ynys Echni, one of the holy islands of Wales.

Bristol Abbey

Between 1148 and 1157, the unreformed clas (royal Celtic) church of St Arthfael was given by William of Gloucester to the Augustinian Canons of Bristol Abbey. It may have been his desire to offer it as part of a priory-cell or even grange of the Abbey at St John’s Church and remove them from their remote cell on the margin between the sea and the Rhymney Moor, but it the church was never endowed as an Augustinian Priory. Mabel had been in talks with the Abbot of Bristol about setting up the new priory as her father has set up Bassaleg from Glastonbury (Ynys Witrin) and the Clunaics of Montacute.The donations to Clunaics (strict observance Benedictines) is interesting because Cluny was not in Normandy.These dedications are a little later. The monastery of St Arthfael,(Llanarthfael?-perhaps even Llanarth may have been named for him?) as it must have been called was mentioned by the Earl’s Father, Robert at the time when he had Gwenllwg under his hand, between 1120 and his death in 1147. During that time he gave to Mabel his wife land ‘near the monastery of St Peter on the Moor’. After Earl Robert’s death but before her own in 1157,and while Gwynllwg was in her hands and was part of her dowry. Mabel gave this to the Augustinian Church of St John the Baptist at Rhymney as part of the process whereby she and her son hoped to found a monastery there. Here is the text of the charter, for which I am very grateful for BCC’s translation:

Mabel, Countess of Gloucester,( Robert’s Fitzhamon’s daughter) to William Fitzstephen the Constable of Newport) and her officials of Gwenllwg (Gunlion)and all the barons, men and friends, Welsh, French and English,and also her Welshmen, greetings. Know that my lord Robert Earl of Gloucester gave me sixty acres of free land in the March of Rhymney near the monastery of St Peter on the Moor(iuxta monasterium sancti petri de Mora) and the wood towards the north, that Gilbert, priest of Rhymney held of me in the time of the said Earl, my lord, and that I, for the good of the soul of my Lord, Robert and of Robert Fitzhamon, my father and for the good of myself and our children grant and concede to the Church of St John in Rhymney, the said sixty acres of land in free alms, my son, William , Earl of Gloucester, conceding the same free of all earthly exactions……’

Morgan and Ioworth, leaders of the Welsh upland made grants to the proposed St John’s Church monastery site round about the same time as this belonged to the Cathedral

Rumney was formerly called Llanrhymney ,Romney or Rompney and the river on which it stands is the Rhymney, which shares its name with the town at the top of the valley, but there are other variations. Remni, Remne and Rempney all appear in old documents and maps as far back as 1100. St John’s itself, therefore could also have been an ancient church and monastery, but being closer to the castle, easier to defend from the Welsh, who continued to try to drive out the English and Normans until one of their own Henry VIII of the Welsh Tudor line, tried to extinguish the identity of Wales and trashed the ancient religion of the people.

Broadway Ditch and the rhyns on the Moor

All the studies suggest a connection with water, a boundary stream or marshes, which , of course, would be most appropriate, as the river used to form the boundary between Gwent and Morganwwg (Glamorgan) and Rumney(Rhymney) includes the moors .Like most of the settlements on the Wentloog Level it lies on land reclaimed from the Bristol Channel. Peterstone itself lies right against the sea wall. Earl Williams own endowment for the proposed priory included 100 acres of land in Cilbwr , in his lordship of Glamorgan on the other side of the Rhymney, lands at Penarth in Glamorgan , the church of St Mellons in Wentloog and the Island of Flatholm (Ynys Echni). Regarding this island of Ynys Echni, the Earl had previously given to the hermits of SS Michael , Cadoc and Dolfino lands at Llandough near Penarth .

Norman 'Ethnic Cleansing' of St Arthfael'a monks

When the plans did not come to fruition with St Johns (probably because Bristol Abbey did not think it well enough provided for) all it’s churches and lands were given to the Augustinian monks of Flatholm. These monks may have been the former hermits, of Peterstone, now become Augustinian Canons.’ If all these grants relate to a proposed priory cell of the proposed Abbey at Rhymney,they must date from after the inductions of the first canons of Bristol on 11 April 1148 and before the death of the Countess Mabel in 1157. It actually seemed to be a case of ethnic cleansing, the hermits of Michael Cadoc and Dolfino pushed out to Flat Holm, as well as the hermits of St Arthmael’s monastery. Peterstone was then built in glorious architechture and perhaps became a parish church in a prosperous farming area, being served by the Augustinians of Bristol, whose job it was.

Monastery land is let out to two burgesses in Bristol

St Peter on the Moor had become the property of Bristol Abbey, the buildings of the clas old Welsh monastery became the centre for the abbey’s manor of Peterstone. In 1542, the Cathedral Valor of Bristol described its lands in Wentloog as ‘the manor of Peterstone and the Rectory, which extends into Peterstone, Marshfield, St Mellons and Rhymney in Wentloog, together with rectory of the lordship of Wentloog.’ The tithes of these churches were paid to Bristol Abbey, who administrated the area, the monks probably staying in accommodation in the village in a Conventual setting, using the Church for its worship.We know that the lands of the old order were leased to two burgesses of Bristol, who probably administrated and oversaw the lands for the monks.

Bruce Copplestone Crowe goes on to say that eleven years prior to this, the abbey had leased to two burgesses of Bristol the chapel and manor of St Peter on the Moor with 52 acres of demesne lands and two granges, one at Marshfield and the other at St Mellons and with the directory of Rumney in the Lordship of Wentloog. This is confirmed in the following papal registers

( 'Lateran Regesta 85: 1400-1401', Calendar of Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 5: 1398-1404 (1904), pp. 345-363.):The Pope confirmed the endowment of the Augustinian Abbey of Bristol of many churches, including those of Newport (Austin Friars) as they had proved possession for a great many years.

those of Rumeney with its chapel of St. Peter de More, St. Melan de Porttaske, and Pennart,(Penarth) with the chapel of Lavermarke(Lavernock) in that of Llandaff. For all the above, the archbishop states that they have proved possession for 40, 50, 60 years and more and even from time immemorial, and that they have possessed for some time, as appropriated, the church of Meresfeld (Marshfield). The pope further grants that in future they need not exhibit, by way of proof, other than the archbishop's letters. Ad fut. rei mem. Is que pro statu. (De mandato.) In 1536, St Peter on the Moor became a parish church, but with the subsequent deprivation of the church lands, (the Great Plague and the enclosures, meant a subsequent shrinking in of the village, which still exists.

The Church has been sold as it was not used enough

Sadly, in recent times, the small congregation could not pay to save such a large and beautiful church.To pay for the maintenance of one of the most splendid Early English style churches to have been built in Wales . The recently published “Gwent” volume of the Buildings of Wales sees John Newman enthuse over this building "indeed the noblest and most beautiful Perpendicular churches in the whole county", a "queen" among churches by the Severn Estuary. He illustrates the exterior and interior in the plates.This priceless piece of architecture has been sold and made into a private home in 2002 and it has been lovingly conserved even as a Grade I listed building.This was unquestionably a good way to save the building and landscape for posterity. It is better if small congregations cannot save the buildings not to let it fall into ruin or disappear as St Kynemark’s has done.Leastways I met the owner at the gate, a most pleasant lady to told me everything inside was still intact, and it is good that the new owners take such care oftheir beautiful surroundings ad treasure it.Hopefully, at some stage, I might be allowed in to see , but there has been also understandibly bad feeling about the sale and she was a bit wary of letting me in. The told me that the font was beautiful.

The 'Tsunami ' of 1606

The lovely Norman church of St Peter, often referred to as the 'Cathedral of the Moors', bears a floodmark of 1606, when many lives of inhabitants and livestock were lost. It is recorded that over 1,000 people drowned and were buried in a communal grave in Rumney, then called Rompney or Llanrhymney. Long and hard hours were toiled on the soil for the next 20 years to bring the land into production again. There have been several such deluges recorded, one in the time of Gwylliw, written by the monk of Gloucester,(late 5th, early 6th century) and another in mediaeval times.
The Bells of Saint Peter after the ‘Reformation’

The Augustinian Church of St Peter in the Moor had a Western tower and a ring of eight bells. These bells were installed when the Church was an Anglican church.As far as I know, these are still in the tower and a great deal of conservation work to do.The monastery church became a parish church in Protestant times and its beautiul furnishings stripped out, neverthe less it is one of the most beautiful church buildings. The small sculpture in the tower devoted to Mary Mother of God (above) is a case in point-absolutely charming, but very high up in the tower

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Appeal for missing Catholic child Madeleine McCann

http://www.youtube.com/ceop You need to c and p this as links never work on this blog.
It is available in most European languages and Arabic. Can you click on the one you wish to use.......

http://www.findmadeleine.com/ This is Madeleine's web site

Please paste this into your browser for the latest video from the Leicestershire police about Madeleine McCann. The ceop website also gives details about other missing children and the attempts made to find them. It is good that Madeleine's case seeks to highlight this menace.There were cases before the iron curtain coming down, of wealthy people kidnapping babies and toddlers from eastern countries and raising them as their own. This is cruel and heartbreaking for the parents. In the case of Madeleine's parents, they have really been through the mill and are sustained with fortitude by their faith and the love of the people around them.

That child, and the nine months that Kate had her in her womb are precious memories of a child snatched by someone who had no right to take her away from loving parents and plunge her into an artificial life. At some stage she has to be found-her DNA as belonging to her parents, will be identified and those are the parents who bore her, nurtured her and cared for her, who endured sleepless nights while she cried.Notwithstanding criticism from people who said she should not be left alone, with which I agree, I think sometimes we forget there are times when we have all left children for a few minutes-to answer the door or take a phone call for example-they were the people who presented her to the church for baptism and whose child she is in the sight of God. The people who know where she is-on your conscience-tell the parents, her true parents. Od course those who have her now will love her too, but what they have done is evil-to remove the child from her parents. If you are frightened, arrange to leave your child with your local catholic church. Retribution is not sop much an issue as returning Madeleine to her real parents. the Catholic church's teaching, I believe, is that children should have the right to be brought up by their blood mother and father, the people who made her, in love.

By that very fact, you must send Madeleine back and seek help and consolation and confession for what you did. It is evil and wrong to do this. It has completely robbed two young children for growing up with their complete family and Madeleine's true family will never give up on her. Please do the right thing, which is of God and give her back. Taking a child from her true family is not of God-is of someone else. If you are a family member of the family who have Madeleine, a family of a school friend, a friend or aquaintance-someone who has recently moved into your vicinity or neighbourhood with a six year old child who speaks good English, contact Madeleine's website -even anonymously and tell them where she is, precisely if you can-or suspect. The police believe she is in Portugal and the video gives more details. This could also apply to France or to any European country.

Look at your neigbour's six year old child. Does she have the fleck in the eye? Does she have a knowledge of English, could she be Madeleine Mccann?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Jesus and the Angels-devotional picture
Revelations image

This whole passage of Rev 4 is interesting and inspirational.And then the glorious passage in Rev 5

Then I sw in the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of the elders,a lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns and seven eyeswhich e the seven spirits that God has sent out over all the whole world. The Lamb (Jesus) came forward to take the scroll from the righthand of the One sitting onthe Throne, and when he took it, the four living creatures prostrated themselves before him and with him the twenty four elders.

Each one of them was holding a harp and HAD A GOLDEN BOWL FULL OF INCENSE

They sang a new hymn:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals
Because you were sacrificed and with your blood
You bought people for God
Of every race, language, people and nation
And made them a line of kings and priests for God
to rule the world.

In my vision, I saw an immense number of angels gathered around the throne, the living creatures and the elders ; there were ten thousand times ten thousands of them and thousands upon thousands loudly chanting

'Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed
To receive power, and wisdom strength
Honour, glory and blessing.'

Then I heard all the living things in creation-evrything that lives in heaven, and the earth and under the earth and in the sea crying:

'To the One seated on the throne and to the Lord
be all Praise, Honour, Glory and Power
Forever and ever!'.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

St Kynemark's, (Cynfarch's) at Chepstow Part II

Below is a very rough sketch of St Kynemark's minus the church, and we have no idea of its location. It was stone built, rendered and limewashed, the building on the right being larger and 15th century built. The smaller building may be an early building follwing te design of a mud and wattles building or even wooden building-and so may the church have been, if there was not such a lot of stone around from the quarries of the Forest of Dean. The plan is a somewhat simplified one from the one prepared by LAS Butler, and the South Range seems to have been further away than I have shown it.

Original Version of Habit, such as it would have been at St Kynemark's at the Reformation.

Thanks Tad Allan!

Restoration of a site and Augustinian Canons, such as there would have been at St Cynfarch's wear this habit. Thank you to Stephen Webb for the tip about the habits! It is also easy to see why some thought this Abbey to be Premontensian!as the habits are similar perhaps.Augustinian Canons were also at Llanthony Priory, prima and secunda.

Yesterday we learned that the location of this priory (of which there are now few signs) has been excavated and a paper by L.A.S Butler published. What was puzzling, when the excavations happened was that the Church of St John the Baptist are not part of the priory, which was a small one, and possibly of the scale of the little Penmon Priory and that of the church at Peterstone. The monastery seems to have been simple in design, although pieces of decoration on the interior of the stone walls , were colour washed in pink and then in white, with imitation stone pattern picked out in red lines and a trailing leaf patterns added in green rock floors had been made smooth by layers of sand and mixed with soil and covered with rushes.In the diagram above, it is important to realise there were more buildings to the south and all was enclosed in a boundary wall, which may have been originally a circular shape, adapted to a more rectangular shape in Norman times.
St Kynemarks lies nest to the ridge at Crossway Green one mile north of the church on the road to Tintern and Monmouth.Post Mediaeval spelling was Kinmark or Kingsmark.

Destruction of the Llandaff Records

The religious house at St Kynemarks may originally have been ancient and royal, but was quite small in size and its possessions were all local, so the house is not mentioned much in the records. The Mediaeval books were destroyed when Llandaff was sacked and ruined by Owain Glyn Dwr and again by robbers and brigands from Bristol. The records of many houses literally disappeared during these times. However the Book of Llandaff does contain references to Arthrwys, King of Gwent, who gave the Church of St Cynfarch to the see of Llandaff early in the seventh century. The church of St Arvans in a tenth century gift also came to Llandaff in a papal Bull of 1128-the year of the canonisation of St David of Wales by Pope Calixtus II .Porthcaseg Church, another local church and the two other churches were also confirmed to the see of Llandaff in this Bull of Pope Honorius II but may have just confirmed what was Llandaff’s . The Church of St John Baptist seems to have disappeared.

St Cynfarch, disciple of Dyfrig/Dubricius giving Llandaff its claim

We know it existed four or five centuries before Chepstow Priory was built by the Normans, and is the church to which the inhabitants of Chepstow would have resorted. The first mention of it is when Arthrwys ,King of Gwent granted this church-ecclesiam cynfarchi with others to Comereg one of the assistant bishops to Teilo in the sixth century. I was also one of those churches confirmed by Pope Honorious II to Bishop Urban (1108-1133) and the see of Llandaff, where it is described as Villa Lanncinnmarch cum Prato.

Augustinian Canons fomed from Celtic 'Llans'

The Augustinian Priory was founded here in the eleventh century, when the priory was probably reorganised from a former Welsh Celtic style llan. I have already shown why the Celtic foundations would have chosen the Augustinian charism after the style of Anthony of the Desert. In the Norwich Valuation the Church of St Kennemarco is described as a Chapter Property and assessed by one mark. In the mid thirteenth century Butler says that the church at Striguil(Chepstow) is included and also the chapels of Porthcaseg and St Arvans, both dependent chapels served by St Kinmark’s;the omission of St Kinmark’s implies it still belonged to Llandaff.

The Wentwood Dispte over Hay, House and Fire-bote (-boot)

Throughout the Middle Ages Llandaff kept an interest in St Kynemarks . In 1270 St Kynemark is presented in the survey of Wentwood –that the Prior and monks of St Kynemarks ought to have Hay and House boot in Wentwood. The Prior of Tintern, of Chepstow and St Kynemarks all attended the court to dispute the hay and house bote.Others present were Robert son of Pagan of Llanfair Uchoed, William Blewitt (who ‘ought to have hay and house bote in Wentwood by right of conquest’,William Denford de Cricke,Richard de Moor and Bartholomew de Moor , Knight,Robert de Moor, John Martyll Mathew Deband of Portskewett, William de St Maure of the manor at Penhow, and manyothers. Wentwood, called in Welsh Coed Gwent, was the largest forest in the vicinity and was much larger than it is today, extending to Chepstow Park. This is borne out by occasional ‘assarts’ that is references to land reclaimed from woodland. The lords of all the manors holding under the lordship of Chepstow had rights in Wentwood to cut timber to build houses called ‘house boot’, hay boot was the right to cut brushwood (called tinnet nowadays) for making fences; and though not mentioned in the lists of lords of the manors , fireboot was the right to cut certain woods for fuel’.The owners of the various rights to the boots kept these until about 1630.

Inquest into the Death of Roger Bigod

At the inquest into the death of Roger Bigod , Earl of Norfolk and Lord of Striguil in 1306, the Prior of St Kinmark’s is listed among the free tenants and pays rents on two tenements at Chepstow.

Prior William Hennyg of St Kynemark in court to prove a title

Butler also lists the 1415 Court Case, where Father William Hennyng, Prior of St Kynemarks , produced as a title to his land which the priory held in the lordship , a grant held by an earlier lord Gilbert Marshall, Earl of Pembroke (1234-1241)the fact that the document which was roduced was a confirmation and not the original deed could, says Butler imply that the priory was of considerable antiquity, possibly even of Celtic origin.

Augustinian Devotion to St John Baptist

In 1355 it appeared as St John the Baptist Church, no surprise because St John Baptist was himself a hermit and a favourite saint of the Augustinians. On 13th of August 1355 . Richard de Tuddenham, a canon who for some nefarious reason was in monastic prison cell and broke out and fled. Pope Bonifcace IX gave a mandate for him to reconcile to his Order. In fact he was often incarcerated and often escaped, but clearly had something about him that they kept taking him back.

By 1603, however St Kynemark’s is no longer mentioned but there is a record of a Chepstow parish register records the baptism of Eleanor, daughter of Walter Hutton at St Kynemark;s in 1642, so the church was still in use at this time. The location of the land of St Kynemark’s are no longer clear. Some of them belonged to William Lewis of St Pierre (‘caires in St Kynemark’, St Lawrence in Chepstow held of the Earl of Wigorn and the Bishop of Llandaff) So it seems Llandaff still had kept some of the lands.

Crossgreen Farm stolen by Roundheads in 1648

In 1648 it seems that Cross green Farm was among the posessions of Llandaff stolen by parliament. This farm is outside the present parish of St Kynemarks and was in St Arvan’s parish. As for the lack of a church on the site, what of the ancient tower in Piercefield Park? Bradney writes of the tower in the park :’A feature in the park is a tower now nearly a ruin of whose history no record remains. Parts of it are very ancient especially the doorway. Around are signs of buildings . From under the door there runs for about 20 yards an underground passageway along which a man could crawl and around are signs of buildings. It stands on the Roman Road about a mile from Crossway Green and is marked on the plan of piercefield by Archdeacon Coxe in 1801 as ‘Grove House’?Bradney:Hundred of Caldicot p 40. Question is as the model army wnt around destroying beautiful churches-did they also destroy the church of StJohn the Baptist and only leave the tower? Or what of St Lawrence's?

Pope Nicholas' Taxation 1291

Financially the Priory was assessed at £1 16s 1d from the assessment from Abergavenny Priory of the tenth or the total income of St Kynemark.. In Pope Nicholas’ taxation of 1291 the priory held land and estates in Langstone, Striguil/Chepstow, Stowere and St Kynemark to a total value of £7.2s 10d and also held the rectories of St Kynemarks, St Arvans and Porcasseg. This last assessment, says Butler, shows the small scale of the Abbey and number of monks was probably quite small.

Brother John ap Howell presented for Ordination at Hereford 1531, just before the Henrican Holocaust.

In 1531, John ap Howell was presented for ordination in the diocese of Hereford by the Prior of St John’s Monastery by St Kinmark and proceeds by way of acolyte and subdeacon to the order of priesthood.

Financial Difficulties

In 1492, the Prior could not pay the annual pension of 13/4d to the monastery of St Augustine, Bristol (seemingly the Mother House) and five years later they were still in arrears.The pension was supposed to net £46 over sixty years and the terminal date was in 1527-8. Possibly the payments would have started as larger payments in 1458.

The Lease of the Earls of Worcester

Butler also gives details of a lease of 1529, shortly before the seizure of the priories. Father John Pynnock, the Prior St Kynemark and the Convent of that place leased to William David ap Richarda cottage in Chepstow earlier rented by John Fyer and Maragaret his wife. The priory seal is attached to the leasewhich is dated in the Chapter House of the Priory.

After the seizure and destruction of most of the monasteries, most of their lands and possessions went to the Earls of Worcester. The Somerset family had been stewards of the two larger monasteries , but it is less likely that they bothered with St Kynemark’s. In fact they may well have remained there until they died, since the Earl of Worcester ‘s son was a Catholic , received recusant priests into his castle at Raglan and was generally well disposed towards clergy, although clergy in England were hunted more assiduously.

Willis Bund describes St Kynemark as Norbertine or Premontensian, but the Priory existed for three centuries and there are no records, and it may be that negotiations were underway to perhaps share the Priory with Norbertines.
However we know for certain that Tuddenham the apostate was an Augustinian Canon. Possibly the Priory was formed from the well established house of Roger de Bereceroles of Bristol or possibly Llanthony. Still there must have been some reason for the Catholic Encyclopaedia calling it Premontensian, but it is useless to speculate, although there may have been some sharing perhaps a younger order taking over from an ageing one. The documentary evidence is very slight because most of the records were destroyed at Llandaff and its holdings and rectories were not part of Herefordshire or Worcester or Bath and Wells. The only direct link there is ,is of the earls of Worcester being given the lease of 1529 ,which must have been part of the monastic deeds of the Earls of Worcester such as Tintern Abbey and Chepstow Priory and many of those were destroyed when during the Civil War, Raglan Castle itself was destroyed and burnt out. The Earls did possess St Arvans and St Kinmarks as seen in one of the few surviving deeds at Badminton MSS in the Tintern Court Rolls.

Difficulties with the site of the Priory

The exact location of the monastery and its compass has yet to be decided. It is not clear, whether the Priory of John the Baptist and the Church of St Kinmark were adjacent as appears to have been the case elsewhere, or whether the two buildings were apart. As the house was so small, it may even have been that a small chapel or oratory was housed in the East Range as so often the case in today’s Abbeys, so that the monks served their church as a parish church.Butler says ‘the elevated position is unusual for a monastery of early foundation , when compared with the secluded position of Llancarfan, Llantwit Major for example but would not be remarkable for a parish church. In 1840 an archaeologist called Nicholson stated that the stone walls around St Kynemark’s farm were a remnant of the priory, and David Williams in 1796 stated it was at the Turnpike on the road from Chepstow to Tintern. An excavation in 1962 and 1963 found the foundations of two buildings within the farmyard with their exis being North to South and a cemetery with at least 17 burials in rock cut graves. L.A.S Butler does say that far more work is to be done here. It seems the farmhouse itself may have served as the south range of the Abbey, only more research will tell, since the relationship between the bishopric and the Augustinian Priory needs to be understood more clearly, and with documentary evidence lacking only archaeology and the practices of the Augustinians can give us information.

Everyday Life

My drawing at the top (and I am no artist) is meant to show how it may have looked. We know it was stone built, possibly rendered and lime washed as was typical of the time. I have shown chickens being kept, bees, vegetables etc but no doubt they brought in other meats and had a farm close by where they could get milk and other things. There was a mill at Tintern and possibly even closer at Trellech , where they could buy in what they needed.

Fishing-Prior's Weir, Prior's Reach

The subsequent history of the priory seems to have been one of decay as locals robbed the stone. It is also clear from Mr Butler’s excavations even the stone from the foundations was taken, which has made life difficult and introduced more speculation. Finally, no doubt the Black Death in the 14th century made life a great deal harder, for the maintenance of the buildings and work in the fields. People could not pay tithes if they were ill or dead and as in so many places, perhaps the vocations dwindled as people made for the towns. There was also the fact that the Crown itself during the time of Henry VIII imposed always greater taxes on religious houses to deliberately bring them down. St Kynemark’s had valuable fishing rights on the Wye. Records of Lancaut Church show the name of the Prior’s Weir. A man described as the farmer of the Prior of St Kynemark’s weir who was involved in a tithe dispute was presumably holding the weir at Lancaut which with a weir-house was among the former possessions of St. Kynemark's Priory, in 1577; it was probably Liveoaks Troughs Weir which lies just below a stretch of the river known as ‘Prior's Reach.’

It is, however, important to remember and commemorate the work of prayer of the Augustinian Canons, who laboured there in their desert from the time of Dyfrig (Dubricius). A life spent in prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, Physical work, frugal meals, service to the Community as they served the people of Chepstow as priests of St Lawrence and St Kynemark. The Chepstow Priory Church in later times became a parish church even before the Reformation, but St Kynemark’s was a small fairly unimportant house, but a home for people who made a big difference to the people around them. The religious brothers, who even in the world today improve the quality for the people, helping their disputes and acting as Christ in our midst. Though not all of them were perfect, most devoted their whole lives to their vocation and the seventeen stone coffins no doubt contained their mortal remains.

The house was never worth much and seemed to be in financial trouble for its last 50 years, so not much was done with it, except to lease it out to local farms, when anything valuable had been sold off and yet there is othing recorded in the Monasticon, so the brothers obviously dd live simply and poorly, as they do today.

Augustinian Canons today

The spirit of St Augustine is alive and well and all over the world. It is the building which has vanished.

The spirituality of the Brothers at Llanthony,St Kynemark's and Peterstone can be seen in this novena by the Augustinian Bishop of Manila:

+In nomine Patris, filio et Spiritui sancto.

Dear Brothers,

With St. Augustine we say ,You have made us for Yourself O Lord, for you alone our God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

As we begin our novena to our Father St. Augustine we pray for the grace to make his spirit our own, on our journey towards our inner self. We reflect on who we are and where we are going as Augustinian Religious and devotees in the context of our time. Move by the spirit of Augustine’s restless pursuit for truth.

What motivates me to continue searching for God?

Having found Him, how do I make Him alive in my relations to people with whom I live?

If there is one thing that Augustinian emphasizes over and over again in treating of the search of God, it is that we must begin by going with ourselves. The keyword is WITHIN. There will find truth, light, joy in Christ Himself.

There we will be heard when we pray; there we will love and worship God. But while this within signifies the very depths of our being, this is only the first stage of the journey. Augustine urges us to keep moving on even to what is beyond ourselves, to the source of our inspiration and light to God Himself.

Augustine would tell us, “Do not go outside yourself, but turn back within. Truth dwells in the inner man; and if you find your nature given to frequent change, go beyond yourself. Move on, then to that source where the light of reason itself receives its light.. (End of the reading – Some moments of silence)


Lord, have mercy on Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us Christ have mercy on us God the Father of Heaven Have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the World Have mercy on us World God, the Holy Spirit Have mercy on us
Holy Trinity,One God
Have mercy on us
Pray for us Mary, Mother of Consolation Pray for us
Mary, Mother of Good Counsel Pray for us
St. Augustine, bright star of the Church Pray for us
St. Augustine, filled with zeal for God’s glory Pray for us
St. Augustine, dauntless defender of the truth Pray for us
St. Augustine, the triumph of divine grace Pray for us
St. Augustine, on fire with the love of God Pray for us
St. Augustine, so great and so humble Pray for us
St. Augustine, prince of bishops and doctors Pray for us
St. Augustine, father of monastic life. Pray for us
St. Augustine, holiest of the wise and wisest of the holy Pray for us

Pray for us St. Augustine, That may become worthy of the promises of Christ.

ALL: You have made for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. We ask you to bless our restlessness in our search for you will live in our lives, and in the events confronting us.

Finding you, may we be faithful to you God of history, faithful to Christ our Lord and Saviour, faithful to the Church and her teaching and faithful to our particular state of life, which we have chosen to serve you. This we ask of you loving Father, through Christ our Lord and through the intercession of Saint Augustine, our Father.