Monday, October 10, 2011

Languerntuiauc or Gwernesney in the leafy alder grove

 Gwernesney                                                        Lan-guern-tuiauc is the name suggested for Gwernesney in the 12th Century Book of Llandaff. The dedication is unknown, although no doubt monks from the local 6th century monasteries (there were several locally, from Michaelston le Fedw in Glamorgan, from a very early time, to the work of St Brynach at the court of Brychan Brycheiniog in Talgarth (Garth Madrun) and of course St Tathw's monastery at Caerwent, where St Tathw (Meuthi later the hermit who taught St Cadoc) who also sent out monks as well as the prolific St Dyfrig, from his
                                                                                     monasteries in Hentland and Moccas in Ergyng.
                                                                                    There were also the famed monastery of Illtyd, at
                                                                                     based at Llantwit Major and St Cadoc's at
                                                                                     Llan carfan, both in earlier M & M posts.

A family member of Brychan's house is most likely,but looking at Tiuauc  and( Tydiwg) we do have a Gwent saint, supposedly a brother of St Carannog of Llangrannog,  St Tysoi of nearby Llansoy. He was meant to be the son of Ceredig an Cunedda . This is mentioned in Progenies Keredic at the end of the Cognatio de Brychan in the Cotton MS Vesp A xiv. Henlann (old llan ) Tituic is the place named at Dixton on the Wye. Nevertheless, this is not difinitive, just based on a possibility.
The fact was that at this time of the early foundations of these foundations of 'deserts' shielding people from the outside world, and making a heavenly circle was part of the process of emulating the desert monks. After all this was post Roman Wales, under attack by Angles, Saxons, Irish and other Welsh tribes, and they were well aware of the world wide church and used Latin in their Masses. In fact such large numbers of people fleeing from the English pagans, made it imperative to encourage large numbers of celibate monks, as the land was unable                                                                                     to sustain such large numbers otherwise. 
Llans were devised under a local founder who had received his training at one of the great learned centres. There was also one at Llanfeuno. Some local saint, or holy priest, trained at a centre obviously set up his Llan here in the alders. They would usually make a circle, build a church and burial area, but would be granted land from the local chieftain. It would usually be near a well or a stream, which would serve for Baptisms and holy water, blessed by the saint-founder. The church would be the centre of the llan's life and inside the church, the Sanctuary, the beating heart, in which the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord would be revered and adored on the altar, surrounded by light. Not all Llans were religious, some were those settlements built by 
chieftains, but ecclesiastical llans were useful. They provided schools, farmed land,and looked after the sick. When the Normans came, and the churches came into the Diocese of Llandaff, Morgan Hen, the chieftain gave this little church to Gwrgan, Bishop of Llandaff. What are now two parishes sustained the church, and used to be called the 'Slough'.(Yelwch) and these used to be separate lands.
P Edward Gostwyck mentions Gwernesney as part of the 
lands of Usk Priory. It would have been served by one of its priests, the tithes given to the nuns there for the upkeep of the priory. In fact it was a larger version of what happened before A holy life was truly revered and de Clare clearly had an eye to his eternal Salvation when he founded the place .Dame Elen Williams, a local lady was the last Abbess, and when priests were outlawed, after Henry founded his new church, Griffith ap Howell was the last Catholic priest in 1535, bringing to an end the Catholic occupancy which had been since the sixth century. In 1560 there was a 'parson' called Walter David and 1621 we learn even the parson Edward Williams was deprived of the church for being drunk and swearing and reading the 'Book of Common Prayer' !He lived to be restored, but died in 1664.  All in all, it was a colourful period.

The Scudamore Family were from the parish, and in 1697 John Scudamore was responsible for the arrest and tragic death of the Beloved Father of the Poor, Tad y Tlodion, St David Lewis.

When the church closed as a Catholic church,the surrounding lands were being farmed by a local tenant  farmer,Philip Williams, known as 'Gwyn' who was inhabiting 'Gwern Stockhouse' next to the church and also rented another group of property from the nuns and clearly Richard Ryche and others who signed the supression faces.
The 'meadows' were bringing in 7 shillings a year-which was a good rent. The Church was clearly an unophisticated and simple, Living so closely to the land, a simple priest                                                                                               priest would hav survived.

An interesting Church with a beautiful set of Stations of the Cross.