Tuesday, 16 April 2013

St Mary's Tithe Barn, Abergavenny

After looking around the church, we made our way to the Tithe Barn, which has been beautifully restored and turned into a Foodhall with local produce, and with a display about the history of Abergavenny upstairs.  We were most impressed, and my husband (NOT a foodie by any means!) even said he would have liked a meal there if we hadn't been going on into Herefordshire.  So we shall return.  This magnificent tapestry sketches out the history of Abergavenny and the Marcher Lords, and its place in Welsh history.  You can clearly see the Jesse figure on the bottom left, and Owain Glyndwr is mounted on a beautiful chestnut cob on the far side.  The town is in the centre, with a backdrop of the Brecon Beacons, and a Red Kite flying above it all.  How wonderful to have been involved in creating such a beautiful heirloom. A team of some 60 needlewomen dedicated nearly four years into stitching this.

From the Abergavenny Tapestry page, the following details:

  • St Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order of monks. St Mary’s Priory, founded in 1087, as a Benedictine priory.

  • One of the world’s finest pieces of medieval sculpture, the Jesse Tree is a 15th-century carving of Jesse, the biblical father of King David and ancestor of Christ. It rests in St Mary’s Priory Church.

  • Owain Glyndwr, the leader of the Welsh rebellion against the English in the 15th century, who sacked Abergavenny in 1404.

  • Sir Harry Llewellyn, the famous showjumper and his horse Foxhunter, who won Olympic gold in 1952.

  • The effigy of Margaret, betrothed to John de Hastings at the age of 12. Her pet squirrel is said to have caused her death in a fall from the castle ramparts when she was 13. Her tomb lies in St Mary’s Priory Church.

A close-up of the beautiful carving of Jessie.  Above him flies the red dragon of Wales.  There are little individual panels all along the bottom of the tapestry, but sadly I didn't study them too closely to tell you what each is.  You can just see the little red squirrel of Margaret (got it wrong the other day, when I thought it was Eva de Braose's)  below Jessie's head. 

Close up of the centre portion, showing the Sugarloaf mountain, the Castle on its motte, the town behind it, a fox hurriedly leaving the picture, and black and white Friesian cattle in the foreground, with the bridge across the River Gavenny.

A rather blurry close-up of Sir Harry Llewellyn and his famous show jumper "Foxhunter" who won Britain a Gold in the 1952 Olympics at Helsinki.  I remember them well.  Foxhunter had a split in the top of his ear.  He is buried on the Blorenge mountain and a nearby car park bears his name. 

There's a Welsh Cob for you - Owain Glyndwr surveys the scene . . .

I hope you have enjoyed.


  1. Amazing work. thankyou for showing it. I often think, without the internet and the blogs of our friends, we might never see the all the wonderful things from all over the world, which we enjoy .


  2. Thoroughly enjoyed the photos of that magnificent tapestry what a glorious piece of work.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful BB - sad that these things are not seen by more people, but then if there was a constant queue it would be irritating wouldn't it.

  4. What a beautiful tapestry - thanks so much for showing it. A really interesting post :)

  5. What a fantastic piece of work! I'd love to see this for myself one day.


  6. Beautiful !
    I would have never seen this if you would not have posted today.
    I love the little panels. Lovely !

    cheers, parsnip

  7. Rowan - You are welcome to come and stay and I will show you!

    Glad everyone has found this interesting. I can't understand why the Jessie figure hasn't been talked up at all. Even in Wales we haven't heard of it.

  8. Stunning work. I love the horse from behind!