Saturday 21 June 2014

Nantgwyllt Church

Back in 1880 there was a small community at Nant-Gwyllt Shelly lived there at the manor for a time and no doubt visited the small chapel there. People used to attend services there on a Sunday afternoon lead by a pastor who would visit on horseback. Nearby children would go to the school and a watermill cut timber and ground grain near the church. This would all change in 1893 when Birmingham Waterworks Company built a dam across the Claerwen valley. By 1896 the community had disappeared under the Caban-coch Reservoir

The old chapel before it was submerged in the reservoir
The map above is one I found and is dated just before work began on the reservoir, the chapel is not marked with a cross like OS maps  but I think is towards the bottom of the map

 In this valley there used be the little community of Nant-gwyllt

A new church was built nearby by Birmingham Waterworks Company  to replace the old drowned one.
This was the first time I came across the church back in 2008, at the time I thought it was closed up and derelict but I found the porch open and went in for a look round and some photos.

Moving on to 2104 and the place looks different, gone are the tall trees surrounding it

Nearby is the church information board with some history on it as well

 The path leading to the church

And the first view you get as you walk through the gate


Here we look at the church from the west end with the Reservoir that took it's predecessor in the background
There were no graves in the churchyard I could see but this memorial seat overlooks the  Reservoir

View from the churchyard looking towards the reservoir


Inside the church looking down the Nave

The font in the back of the church which I forgot to check what the plaque said. The Chance arch

Very nice wood pulpit
The Chancel with choir pews

The altar and chancel windows
The Altar
The flower son the altar with the cross.

One of the memorials on the wall with some of the keelers in the church to the right

The scripture open looking towards the chancel

The church organ and one of the information boards in the church

View up the nave from the chancel arch

John Pickering memorial

Some of the detail on the chancle arch
and one of the windows in the church

A lone floral display on the window

At the back by the entrance is a small exhibit of photos taken when the work was being done building the dam

What I like about the church is there is no electricity only oil lamps

A sad reminder of the age of people working on the dam

A dedication to   hangs on the wall. To the right one of the oil lamps in the church

The Chancel Window
Have a peaceful Sunday

Saturday 14 June 2014

The Aldworth Giants

Republishing this blog for the benifit of Inspired Sunday
Aldworth is a small village set just on  the Berkshire Downs near the ridgeway it is mentioned on the Domsday Book under Elleorde which in old English could have meant Old Enclosure of Old Farm. It's a very rural farming community though once boasted a village shop and school which have now gone but it does have the best pub in the area, the family owning it have had the place for the last 300 years. In 1978 the pub hit the headlines when it became the first place to charter Concord for a flight something which did not go down well with the Concord club but then they did not have one of the pilots as a local. One of my claims to fame is that I was on the flight.

So who were the Aldworth Giants, well they were the De La Beche family and in the church are  figures that are supposed to be life size representations, depicting knights all over seven feet tall. According to tradition the giants were known by other names: John Long, John Strong, John Never Afraid and John Ever Afraid. The effigy said to represent John Ever afraid no longer exists, but was set in an alcove in the outside wall of the church, which has now been blocked. It is said that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for worldly riches. The bargain was that the Devil would claim his soul whether he was buried inside or outside the church. Burying his body within the church walls meant that the Devil was cheated of his prize.

As you walk up to the church along the footpath you can see the where grave to John Ever Afraid was.

This was where John Ever Afraid is supposed to have been buried,
looking at the space I feel it is a shame that there is nothing there now other that a filled in space.

 Going in the porch door and you are confronted by some wonderful arched tracery where you can see the graves of the De La Beche Family.

Starting on the right as you go in is John De La Beche who was the second son of Sir John and Lady Isabella. He died in 1394. Le lays recumbent with no armor and a dog at his feet.

Next along is Lady Joan, Nee De La Zouche, wife of Sir Philip. He Effigy shorter than the Recess was moved here from the nave. Her costume is 14th Century and her pillow is supported by angels

Sir Philip De La Beche second son of Sir Philip and Lady Joan, A Knight of Berks. Committed to Scarborough Castle in 1322 but pardoned in 1327 by Edward III. He was sheriff of Berks& Oxon 1332-3. His effigy is fully armored with the visor raised.
 Their effigy's are along the South Aisle to the right of the entrance.

Looking over the North side of the Nave is another set of effigies which I you see as you walk in the entrance door, they are.

Sir Robert De La Beche Knighted by Edward I in 1278. The figure is in plated Armour with a surcoat. This is the first of nine effigies carved between 1300 & 1350

This fellow is Sir John De La Beche who was the son of Sir Robert who was also a knight and received his lands from his father. His feet are resting on a Lion.
Going back up the nave and looking across to the South Aisle you can find Sir Philip De La Beche  son of Sir John he received ands from his Father, Sheriff of Berks and Oxon 1313-1314. Mantle over embossed armor to signify he was valet to to Edward II. Jailed as a rebel in 1322 with his sons but pardoned by Edward III. Said to be seven foot tall

Last on that side is Sir Philip De La Beche Third son of Sir Philip and Lady Joan. He was made Constable of the Tower and custodian of Edward III first son later the Black Prince. Granted Leave by Edward to Castellate the Manor. He died in 1345 and was co founder of the South Aisle.

Between the nave and South Aisle you will the last two effigies. They are Lady Isabella nee De Elmrige wife of Sir John. Co founder of the South Aisle with Sir Nicholas,hence the position of her effigy. Canopies of the South Aisle were engraved with the pattern of her seal.
 Next to her lays Sir John De La Beche first son of Sir Phlip and Lady Joan. A knight of Berks in 1316 and keeper of Winchester Castle. Committed to the tower in 1322 by Edward II but pardoned by Edward III in 1327. He lies in the Armour of a Knight with his dogs and a lion at his feet.
So those were the Aldworth Giants and you may wonder why the effigies are all so damages, well it seems the Roundheads popped in during the civil war (battle of Newbury up the road) and took it out on them thinking they were royalty.
The church itself is a simple one very unadorned like others I have been to

Even the chancel is simple with just a couple of memorials in it.

 At the end of the south Aisle are a couple of Memorials to the Dunlop Family. One to the sons who were killed in the Second World War
Their parents memorial is below them. The Family used to live at De La Beche farm site of the old castle.

Outside under the chancel window is Aldworths War Memorial and on it you can see the Dunlop brothers are listed.
A little further away you can see the remains of the yew tree which is said to go back 1000 years and no doubt saw the De La Beche family walk past to services on Sundays.
One last little story I read was that Queen Elizabeth the 1st visited the church while out for a ride. you can read a bit more in the Aldworth Website.   If you ever find yourself in the area it is well worth stopping off for an hour to look round the church.
Since writing this blog  Geoffrey Morgan has left a message below on his theory about the 10th Giant John Ever Afraid which could well be in St Lawrence Church Hungerford It makes interesting reading and I can see where Geoffrey is coming from on this. No doubt someone will discover what happened in time.