Tuesday 31 January 2023

St Matthew's Church, Llandefalle


Keith and I tried to visit this church last summer, but there was no obvious or marked entrance.  I tried again when I went to Brecon a couple of weeks back,  although  it was not marked the obvious way which took you into the yard of the Manor House/Rectory. I chose to approach up a steep little lane - no parking, so I cwtched into a corner of a house driveway and crossed the lane.   The church sits on a terrace and looks towards the Black Mountains.   A previous church dated to the 13th C but the present one is mainly of 14th and 15th Century construction.  It's earliest roots are in the 6th Century, when it was dedicated to St Maelog, and there are still parts of the churchyard which are slightly circular. Baring Gould and Fisher considered it was dedicated to the unknown St Tyfalle, but that was more of a guess than any considered antiquarian research.

What beautiful blue skies. During the Middle Ages, the church belonged to Clifford Priory, over the Herefordshire border.

The porch with a stout door and piscina.

The plain font dates to the 13th C.

The two fragments of painted walls give a hint of how the church once looked.  My "Painted Temples" book describes them as a fragment of St George/St Christopher, and fragmentary floral designs.  There are Blackletter texts (illegible) which I must have missed.

The stairway up to the (now defunct) rood screen, and below, the pretty rood screen and a close-up of the fruiting vine motif.  This dates from the 14th C and luckily escaped destruction.

Some of the earliest memorials to parishioners.

A list of bequests - no chance they will forget their largesse to the church and forget a payment then!  Forget and you pay double!!

The alter in the shadows.

More memorials.

Fragments of Medieval glass made into collages. The wording reads: "This ancient glass was restored to the church of Llandefalle 1949. "  Then the Curate's and Churchwarden's names.

Another Piscina, this time inside the church.

I hope you have enjoyed visiting it with me.

Now as it's dry and sunny, I'm back outside to carry on tidying up the garden.  Have done a chunk of the 40 feet or so of old stable yard cobbles, getting rid of the moss, mud and weeds mainly using a screwdriver.  I know how to have fun!  It's made me more cheerful anyway - a job that really needs tackling.

Sunday 29 January 2023



Yesterday was the Antiques Fair at the Botanic Garden of Wales, near Carmarthen.  It was lovely to see these Daffodils blooming so early.  A real taster of spring on the way.  We would normally have had a stand here, especially as it was the first Fair back after Covid had put the kibosh on things.  I had booked our normal stand, but had to cancel it when I saw how bad Keith's health was at the beginning of January.  I wouldn't have gone, but Keith wanted to and he really enjoyed the outing.  I, less so, as it was VERY crowded and not much room to get through with a mobility scooter, especially when Keith was trying to turn it and people would just walk through as I was helping him reverse into a clear space.  I found it rather stressful, particularly when I had to make top speed the 1/4 mile or so back to the car park to get his walking stick (we'd forgotten it) and then labour back up the hill again.  He didn't want to wear a mask either, which made my wearing one to try and avoid Flu a bit pointless. If he got it, so would I anyway.   I was glad to get home.  I've not done a 100 mile round trip for a while.  

A beautiful yellow Witchazel.  One of several lining the path on the way up.

A view of the Dome from where we came in as paying visitors for the first time.  We normally have a pillar to pillar stand in here.

On a friend's stand, a beautiful 18th C Welsh dresser - a fraction of the price it would have been not that long ago.  If we'd had room, we'd have been very tempted. Below one of the lovely primitive chairs he had in his display.  

Pathways lead around the plantings in the Dome and a corner lent itself to a display of Welsh Blankets.

Such an interesting stand (above and below).  A wide range of unusual things.  It belonged to the very capable Brita, whose Fair it is.  She has a good eye.

Two lovely pieces made many moons ago and very rare finds nowadays.  Priced accordingly.

In the marquee, some lovely big French pots.

There was nothing to tempt me that I could afford.  A friend of ours sells these wonderful antique carvings - the one I'd love to have is 3rd along on the top row.  Well into 3 figures though.

A super study of a polo pony in bronze.  I didn't even enquire the price of this!

Things to be thankful for:

1.  Keith has an appointment next month at Hereford to see the Neurologist (however, it's at 9 a.m. so we need to have a very early start.)

2.  Signs of spring and the lengthening days.

3.  Two kittens that make me laugh.

4.  A little progress with Family History research that didn't require a death-bed confession.

Friday 27 January 2023

Lincoln Cathedral - Part II


The tomb of St Hugh at Lincoln Cathedral.  Born in Avalon, his family moved to Grenoble, so he travelled a long way to become the Bishop of the cathedral, although that said, he was a deacon at Witham Chartherhouse in Somerset in 1179 so was already on English soil.  He was made Bishop of Lincoln in 1186. He is associated with a Swan - originally a territorial nasty-tempered beast, but with St Hugh, he became tame and biddable.  Hugh was canonized in 1220, and is the patron saint of sick children, sick people, shoemakers and swans.

Above and below, some lovely carved faces with great character from the Choir Screen.

Incredible work right across the Choir Screen.

The leather cap and the chisel behind his ear suggests that this was one of the Masons who worked here.

Leo the lion . . .

Weird faces guard a Bishop.

There were a number of Gardiner memorials in one area.  They were obviously an important local family.

More stunning stained glass.

Faces on the ceilings too . . .  These were in the Cloisters area.

Not sure if those are meant to be hands up at his mouth.  Why?

Some real magic for us two Pre-Raphaelite fans . . .

I hope that you have enjoyed Lincoln.  I would love to visit again, but can't see that happening.

Must dash as Keith has a speech therapy class on line this morning.

Thursday 26 January 2023

A visit to Lincoln Cathedral in 2015 - part 1

 I need a day out in my head - January seems such a long month.  So here is part 1 of Lincoln Cathedral.  Enjoy.

    Ruskin said of Lincoln Cathedral:  "I have always held . . . that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have."

The stunning West Front of the cathedral.  Building work began here in 1072, when William the Conquerer told Bishop Remigius to build him a Cathedral to keep his castle company.  Unfortunately after 20 years of building, there was a fire which destroyed the roof. Worse was to come in 1185 when an earthquake split the cathedral from top to bottom.  Fortunately the West Front survived.

Whilst there are traditionally Norman chevron patterns around the doorway, there is a nod to late Anglo Saxon designs.

This shows particularly in the figures in the interlace below.

Anglo-Saxon sculpture around the Cathedral doorways.  Figures with long tails inhabiting vine scrolls.

Inside your eyes are raised to the soaring arches.

The black marble font (ordered from a quarry in Belgium at great expense) has Beasties which show the battle between good and evil.  Evil appears to be a dragon, with wings, scales and a belly like a Crocodile! Good is represented by what could be a wolf-like animal, but it has curly locks on its neck so we will assume it to be a lion.  Not St Mark's lion, however, as that has wings . . .  Some slightly different "baddies" being sorted out on another face.

Below,  one of two superb 'Rose' windows.  The Dean's Window has its original panels, and faces North . . . he was lower down in the pecking order . . .  People believed that it looked north 'to keep out the dark deeds of the Devil.'

Whilst the Bishop had his stunning window facing South . . .  This faces the Dean's Window across the transept, and worshippers believed that it 'looked towards the sun to welcome in God's light and love.'  It was fitted around 1330, and the stone tracery looks like lace - showing the masons' craftsmanship.

The doorway at the right end of the Choir Screen.

The amazing Choir Screen with its intricate carvings (more photos of it in the next post).

A rather weird cross between a person and a beastie, playing a violin . . .  you can just make out traces of the original paint - red, and a little blue around his left elbow.

Possibly a Manticore (to the left) and his partner the other side of the ogee top of the doorway.  

If you look closely, you will see some naughty dragons coming out of hiding in the vine, to scoff the bunches of grapes.  Unfortunately they have been noticed and are being stabbed. . .

Here they are, dead and skinned and hung up for all to see (Imagery was widely understood by the poor people who attended church, but were illiterate.)  You can also see the beautiful rose carvings which were symbols of the Virgin Mary . . .

These were just my favourite carvings in the entire cathedral and I am sure they are Barn Owls.  They represent the dark and ignorance.  Or so says the guide book.  Our guide (for we had a guided tour) also mentioned that one visitor from South Africa had mentioned them eating souls.  That led me to think about Mary Webb's Sin Eaters (in 'Precious Bane').  In the Scriptures, however, the owl is associated with desolation. In the Bible, the Owl was one of the birds which was mentioned as unclean. 

Part 2 tomorrow.