Welsh Stone Forum looking at – yes – stones!

Because other people’s expertise is always invaluable.

We started at Grosmont. I’d been there before – https://welshtombs.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/more-cross-slabs/ – and had specific queries. What was the actual stone of that unfinished effigy of a mailed knight?


And was there any chance of moving and examining the loose stones at the west end? Andrew Haycock confirmed my completely uninformed guess that the effigy was local Old Red Sandstone – he thinks from what used to be called the St Maughan’s Formation, which is the local type. This does actually influence how we interpret it. There have been a number of attempts to date the carving, to explain its very rough quality and to identify the person it represents. My initial instinct was to guess at a late C13/early C14 date. It’s very difficult to say anything definite because of the lack of detail. It does look as though the effigy is meant to have its legs straight, and the hands are clearly placed together in prayer. Crossed legs would be much more usual in the second half  of the thirteenth century: though straight legs were coming back into fashion by the end of the century, there are still plenty of effigies with crossed legs in the early fourteenth century. Similarly, hands together in prayer get more common towards the end of the thirteenth century. Alternatively, we could be looking at a very early effigy – before the middle of the 13th century. Early effigies are unusual but we can’t rule that out. He seems to be wearing a mail coif,


while a number of the earliest effigies have cylindrical helmets, but there are early examples (eg William Marshall in the Temple Church, London) with coifs.

So – coif, hands together, legs straight … probably early C14?

(All this is based on H. A. Tummers, Early Secular Effigies in England – really the bible on the subject!)

The current theory about the rough carving is that it was roughed out in the quarry to save weight then should have been finished in situ but for some reason that wasn’t done. That works even for stone from a local quarry: getting that huge slab even a mile along rough tracks would have been no joke. But why wasn’t it finished? And who was he?

Tradition identified him as Henry of Grosmont, but he died and was buried in Leicester in 1361 – too late for the style of the armour on this carving. There could be any number of reasons for the failure to finish- family quarrels, running out of money – without an identification we are never going to know.

On to Llandeilo Gresynni and a couple of remarkable discoveries. Eric, who organised the day, spotted this lurking in a corner of the porch,


and I spotted another.


Two medieval cross slabs new to my database. Dating cross slabs is even more difficult than dating roughed-out effigies: these are probably fourteenth century.

Inside, the chancel is ledgerstone heaven. We’d had a chance to look at the photos of the back of the Springet stone at Grosmont so we were primed for these. Most have that characteristic elegantly-curved base, but not this one



a memorial to Jane and John Walderne and their sons ?Mark, David and Charles


(the names just visible on the panels). There are three monuments to the local Powell family:


Ann Powell, widow of Thomas Powell of Penrhos


TP (possibly Thomas Powell)
and his son Walter, whose diary is a wonderful source for the life of a minor Monmouthshire gentleman in the early 17th century and the difficult years of the Civil War . You can read the whole thing at https://archive.org/details/diaryofwalterpow00powerich/page/n6 .


and another Powell widow, date uncertain


Elizabeth Rogers, wife of the vicar Owen Rogers, d. 1640


another floriated cross with the IHS trigram and the inscription now so worn as to be illegible. Bradney saw the initials IP on it but could not make out any more


and this lovely chap with exuberant beard and moustache, hands held rather awkwardly to his chest and a splendid long-skirted coat but no name

Also some later slabs:


Charles Herbert of Colebrook, d. 1685


with this intriguing detail above the heraldry


and Maria Watkin, wife of a later vicar, d. 1704.


But we failed to find these, drawn by Bradney from rubbings in the early 20th century.


A couple with S P and C P (the P drawn reversed) and what looks like CVIVS at the bottom

and the iconographically-fascinating slab of Owen Rogers, vicar in the mid C17.


Not quite a cross slab, it has candles, little faces and a lot of text. Walter Powell fell out with Rogers and accused him of drunkenness and keeping the church key in the village alehouse. There may have been some substance in this as he was dismissed in 1650 for drunkenness as well as Royalism. He was reappointed at the Restoration but died the following year. His tomb slab is a defiant defence of his career: the Latin tag PRELUCENDO PEREO (I perish going before with a light), a quote from 2 Timothy 4:7 ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith’ and doggerel verses which he may have written himself

Here lies a sheapheard late of Christ his sheep
From sheepe-clothed wolves his lambs did keepe
His monument God’s angels guard and keepe
Til him tharkangel wake shall out of sleepe
his soule flown up a bove the lofty ski
…. Jehovah on hie

and underneath IAM.PENRY, possibly the name of the sculptor

Did we not look far enough, or are these 2 stones now under the choir stalls?

Bradney also listed a lot of ledgerstones in the north chapel, then known as the Cillwch chapel. They are now under a carpet, which isn’t doing them any good: it has a felted backing which is holding the damp. I’m hoping to be put in touch with the present incumbent, so that if the carpet ever comes up, we can do a proper survey.

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