Tuesday 28 February 2023

St Stephen's Church, Llanstephan, near Glasbury-on-Wye


After we went to the Craft Shop, we were tootling along the back lane when I saw a sign for St Stephen's Church and did an abrupt left turn.  Got there more by luck and instinct than any signage - although there was a sign when we needed it most, but it was a fair old climb. Here is the stone-roofed lytchgate - apologies for missing off the end part on the left which once housed the parson's horse.

The approach was through a ring of yew trees, and below, one of the fine memorial stones.  The carving is beautiful (and doubtless expensive at the time).

It is high up on a hillside above the Wye valley, and commands beautiful views.

This was such a beautiful oak tree, I had to take a photo.

The tower of the church is believed to be 14th C. with some tinkering in Victorian times in all probability.  The windows and doors of the church are 19th C replacements and the 15th C porch remodelled in the same period. The nave is 13th C. with an original South doorway from this date.  More information HERE.

Fabulous views across to the Brecon Beacons.

In 1818, there was a description of a rood screen and loft, in oak, "very elegantly carved, with rosettes and vine leaves intertwined, supported by oak pillars", whilst a stone slab formed the communion table.  Alas, now all gone. Presumably the Victorian makeover did for them what the Reformation didn't.  More info HERE.

The font is probably 14th C, raised on a 19th C base.

The stone pulpit is 19th C.

This photo came out, a beautiful tribute to Hugo Phillips, 3rdBaron Milford of Llanstephan.

There was a beautiful triptych overlooking the altar.

Part of the old furniture of the early church, where church documents and valuables would have been kept.

This was worth a visit, and the scenery stunning, even in winter.

Yesterday it was Keith's turn for the dentist (check up) and so we went to Llandovery.  I couldn't park opposite as I had hoped, so got the wheelchair out to get Keith there.  However, after he'd seen the dentist, he walked out of the surgery, then across the road and back to the car!  This is the furthest he has walked in months, and I was delighted.  Only 75 yards or so, but considering he's just been going up and down the kitchen this is progress indeed.  Partly the increased levels of Thyroxine treatment and partly the new patch, which works round the clock to stop dopamine being blocked.  This has been a game changer.  Before, when the Rasagaline wore off (mid-afternoon) Keith hit a brick wall mobility-wise.  Fingers x'd he can continue to make progress.  We are going to try a short walk up by Jewsons' tomorrow, as that has just been resurfaced and is nice and level.

Monday 27 February 2023

Crafts at Erwood Station and a Siskin's bottom! Plus some Huguenot roots . . .


This is the old station at Erwood - the other side of the river from the village, and done for by Mr Beeching.  They have used a couple of the old carriages  to display locally-made crafts, and as a little cafe.

On its own little bit of siding, one of the last shunting engines.

. . . and a Siskin's bottom!  Inside the cafe carriage there are pictures of the wild birds you might see from whilst having tea and cake, and thoughtfully provided binoculars.  Great for kids.

Above and below :  nice glass wall hangings, with photographs in the centre.  These were priced at £40 - £50.

I loved this and thought of my Aunty Mary who died recently.  She loved owls.  It was already sold.

An interesting stump repurposed with the glass moulded into position whilst still hot, one assumes.

These are rather pretty.

Lapwings - they used to be common on the ploughed fields of Hampshire when I was a kid.  Now they're becoming scarce.  My reflection in the glass - looking tired and run down . . .

I thought these glass animals were rather fun.

Keith came with me for a change of scenery, but didn't get out of the car - no interest in the crafts and the churches too far to walk and across grass.  I checked out a couple of churches - St Stephen's at Llanstephan which I saw a sign for as we drove along the back road (previously the railway line?) to Boughrood, and then the church at Boughrood.  Billy - I know you have been to St Stephen's, what a lovely spot it's in.

Yesterday I was feeling very glum (that word takes me back to The Glums, with Ron and Eth!) and distracted myself with some family history research, following a female line from my dad's mum, until I hit the unusual surname of Legassick.  They were in Dean Prior (Devon) in the late 1700s (1694 or thereabouts) and then a colony a couple of miles up the road in Buckfastleigh.  The slightly posher ones were in Modbury.  My lot were probably involved in woollen manufacture (carding etc).  There was another link to this name in St Essey, Cornwall - between Wadebridge and Padstow, but apparently the name is French,  probably has Huguenot connections and is linked to Gascony. Our two girls have often been mistaken for being Greek or having Mediterranean blood, and my cousin Ellen also.  So perhaps these Gascon genes are coming out!

Saturday 25 February 2023

St Mary's Church, Kington - focus on the stained glass


St Mary's Church in Kington. I know that Marlane will remember it very well!

The Norman tower - with its later 18th C broach spire - which would have been used as a place of rescue in times gone by - you can just make out the inset pieces I took poor close-ups of (below).  The church dates to the 13th C but was only joined onto the tower at a later date.

This is apparently an 18th C preaching cross, but it looks MUCH earlier to me.  The niche would have held a small statue.

The stairs at the side of the tower are a much later addition - not much good at repelling invaders if you invite them in up a useful staircase!

The font is 12th C, and has unusual cable moulding around it and a Norman zig-zag at the top.

The large West Window, which is by Clayton and Bell and made in 1862.  It depicts two angels at the top, above panels showing the four Evangelists and also the four Great Prophets of  Testament.

A piece of modern glass, depicting the Holy Dove, was made by James Budd in 1995. It was a memorial to William Norman Elliott who was a member of the teaching profession for 42 years, 20 of those at lady Hawkins' School.

This is in the Vaughan Chapel and shows the Adoration of the Magi by Geoffrey Webb (1947).

This is the 2nd window in the Vaughan Chapel and shows St Luke and St Francis and is by CR Webb (1964).

Apologies for a duff photo - I took my old camera and it plays up now and again.  I can't work out which one this is either.  A shame as the colours are gorgeous.

Another Clayton and Bell window from 1862.  This is considered to be their finest work in the church.  Its original position in the church was in the old chancel but it was moved to this position by R W Drew.  It shows people and events from the Acts of the Apostles.  

On the left, in descending order:  Dorcas, The Raising of Dorcas, Cornelius, St Peter and Cornelius, St Stephen, The Stoning of Stephen.

In descending order on the right are:  Lydia, Eutychus, St Barnabas, Lystra, St Paul and Saul on the road to Damascus.

This is the window on the eastern side of the North Porch, showing the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, by Whitefriars (1962).  The figures are Anna, Simeon with the Infant Christ, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the North Aisle there is a Whitefriars (1962) depiction of the Nativity with the Shepherds.

There was a rather nice carved stone pulpit.

This was one of half a dozen beautifully stitched pieces on display in the church.

I'm sorry I couldn't get this clearer, but it was to the side of the altar and short of sitting on top of said altar I couldn't get a good angle! This is the Vaughan family history.

The church was having a Messy Church day, full of toddlers, glitter and glue - they were having a wonderful time and their happy voices brought the church alive.  One of the chaps helping told me about another little church I would enjoy at nearby Huntingon, so after a wander around the town, that is where I went next . . .

Have a good weekend folks - sunshine here when I began this post, but now it is clouding over a bit.  I will garden and get a walk in.

It was good to get out and about again, and 

Thursday 23 February 2023

Hergest Court and the Vaughans


I needed a few hours out of the house yesterday, so with Keith settled, I set off to get paint for the guest bedroom (pale yellow) and then went on to Kington, as I wanted to see the church there.  A post about St Mary's will follow.  Inside the church was an alabaster memorial to Thomas and Ellen Vaughan, dating to the late 1600s.  Their home, above and below, is a farmstead now, and dates to the 15th C.  I have to say, beautiful snowdrops or not, I always get a bad feeling when I drive past this place.  There's another, a Priory, near Goodrich Castle, which has the same effect.  I used to drive past an abandoned cottage in a damp dingle a couple of miles from where we used to live.  It gave me the heeby-jeebies, especially at night - so much so I refused to go to Brechfa after dark using that route.  Many years on, when walking past I decided to take myself by the scruff of the neck and go and look inside.  THAT was a mistake, as there was a truly horrible atmosphere, threatening and "black" is the best way of describing it, and believe me, I was GONE.  So, I rather tend to listen to my gut feelings on places, even from a field or so distant!  Lift your eyebrows all you want, but I was born with this - I'll call it "feyness" and it works in a number of different ways.

HERE is a link to a good photo of the church and the Court, and more info for you.  Worth looking at.

Ellen the Terrible was so called because a killing which she perpetrated.  The following extract from The Folklore of Radnorshire explains:  

"During the unguarded moments of a festive carousel, two cousins-german (first cousins), namely, John Hir, or John the Tall, son of Philip Fychan, and David Fychan, quarrelled about the extent of their matrimonial inheritance, as parcelled out of the law of gavilkind (the custom of dividing a dead man's property equally among his sons), and fought with swords, in which combat, the latter was run through the body, and died on the spot.  His death, however, did not pass unrevenged, for the sister of the slain, named Ellen Cethin, who resided at Hergest Croft, in the county of Herefordshire ,a woman of masculine strength, and intrepid spirit, hearing of the disastrous issue of this family dispute, and of the murder of her brother, repaired to the adjoining parish of Llanddewi (Ystradenni) on the day in which is had previously been fixed to hold a trial of archery.  Disguising herself in men's clothes, she challenged the best archer in the field.  This challenge was no sooner known than accepted by John Hir, who, entitled to the first shot, fixed his arrow in the centre of the target.  Exulting in his success, and confident of the victory, he was followed by Ellen Cethin, whom, instead of pointing the head of the arrow in a line with the target, directed its flight against the body of her cousin-german John Hir, which is pierced, and went through his heart.  "  This apparently took place in 1430.

I loved reading this as apparently "a frequent visitor at the Court was Lewys Glyn Cothi, one of the greatest Welsh poets of the time.  When Thomas died fighting in the Yorkist cause in1469, Lewys wrote a funeral elegy or marwnad which evoked his patron's fighting white-cuirassed like King Arthur at Camlan."  Now, followers of my blog and the history of Ynyswen, our old home, will know that Lewys Glyn Cothi was also a frequent visitor there.  Gosh, to have been a bi-lingual fly on the wall . . .

Thomas's body was returned for internment within the church of St Mary at Kington, close to his home.  However, it was not long afterwards that apparently his spirit had not gone quietly to the grave.  Now, we have a Kilvert link, and The Folklore of Radnorshire repeats what Kilvert's molecatcher told him:

"It was believed that the crimes he had committed would not let his spirit rest, for his ghost haunted the wood, and terrified innumerable people; it used to take special delight in waylaying women riding home from market at dusk, leaping up on their horses and sitting behind them.  At last strong measures were taken to defeat the ghost.  Twelve or thirteen ancient parsons assembled in the court of Hergest, and drew a circle, inside which they all stood with books and lighted candles, praying.  The ghost was very resolute, and came among the parsons roaring like a bull.  'Why so fierce, Mr Vaughan?', asked one of the parsons mildly. 'Fierce I was a man, fiercer still as a devil', roared Vaughan, and all the candles were blown out except one, held by a very small, weak parson (also, says legend, named Vaughan).  He hid the candle in his boot, and so kept it alight, all the time praying hard until at length the violent spirit was quelled. 'and brought down so small and humble that they shut him up in a snuff box.'    The ghost made one humble petition - 'Do not bury me beneath water.' But the parson immediately had him enclosed in a stone box, and buried him under the bed of the brook, and Hergest thenceforth was at peace."

. . . and if that sounds at all familiar, it's because it was used at Disserth church, almost word for word, HERE'S my post about it from just over a year ago!

I presume the dog may well have been damaged during the Reformation, or perhaps when moving the tomb, but apparently the Hergest Black Dog (or the Black Dog of Hergest, which sounds better) was one of the manifestations of Black Vaughan and also had other connections with the family name  . . .

    Anyway, there will be some more posts from this outing - St Mary's Church, and a little gem of a church nearby at Huntingdon.  

    I marched myself round the lake in Llandod this morning when I went there to do some shopping, and cheered myself up with the purchase of two fruit trees from Tesco (£7 each or 2 for £12) - I got a Cox apple and a Victoria plum, they were very standard choices.  Those now have their roots in water and tomorrow I will plant them.  I also bought a Tesco boxed "Perfect for Pots" collection which has a Dahlia, some Freesias, Gladioli, and seeds for Cosmos, Calendula and Cornflowers.  Not bad value.  I have two biggish pots I've emptied and will plant them up with these tomorrow.  I have some Dahlias I had planted last year so will even up the 2nd tub with a clump of those tubers.

    Keith has gotten over our early start and bad night's sleep on Monday and is a bit more sprightly again.  We have to make sure that the patches are replaced in good time, as we forgot the other night and it was like someone had pulled the plug out!