Llangatwg Feibion Afel

That wonderful organisation the Friends of Friendless Churches held its AGM this year in the church of St Cadoc of the sons of Afel. It is now one of Monmouthshire’s most remote churches, down a lane and across the fields in a little valley north-west of Monmouth. In the early medieval period, though, it may have been something more important. Early charters describe it as a mother church, with the churches of Llanllwyd, Llanfaenor, St Thomas of Newcastle and St Thomas of ‘Panrox’ subordinated to it. The surrounding area is full of llan place names. Some are misleading – Llandishty and Llanbawddwr are not really llan but glan place names, farms named after streams. But what about Llancreaver (just west of the Hendre), Llanadan west of Llangatwg, Llanvolda next to the Hendre and plain Llan on the road to Newcastle? It really is a landscape very similar to that around St Cadoc’s great monastery at Llancarfan, where there are surrounding hamlets like Llancadle, Llanbethery and Llanfeuthin, and others like Castell Moel and Moulton with archaeological evidence of early churches.

There is very little left of the medieval fabric at Llangatwg, but plenty of good post-medieval tomb carvings. Lots of Brute-style cherubs;

a very strange little figure

llangatwg_7

llangatwg_7_detail

the heartbreaking monument to two young children of the Banister family, with very crudely carved figures – surely the work of a local stonemason not quite up to the job

llangatwg_banister_children

this amazing carving of Adam and Eve (the ‘cherub’ on the top clearly comes from a different monument)

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and for me the most exciting, very worn and almost unphotographable, commemorating a James Water who died in 1696.

llangatwg_water

This must have been a ledgerstone, from the amount of wear. It has a cross head and (very unusual for the date) an inscription partly in (rather garbled) Welsh.

llangatwg_water_welsh

It reads

GWEDDIVN BAWB AR
Y IESU HWN DDYG
ON HAWDDNHEL
PU A DANGOS VNNHY
GWIR OLEVNI [?PRYD]
DDE Y GWIWION YN Y
GWELY

(roughly translated as Let us all pray to the Jesus, this is easy enough to help to show us the true light when the worthy ones come to their bed)

And the Hendre does very good vegan chocolate brownies.

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