Sunday, 6 November 2016

St David's: October 2016: Part 3

An ecclesiastical theme to my final post on our latest annual break in St David's. One cathedral and two churches, both of which had played a role in Mrs P's family.
Looking from my singing position in the choir stalls towards the main altar. One of the advantages of being, as it were, on the staff of the cathedral for a period is that you can get time to wander around when there are no visitors. 
The nave roof from the organ loft. You can really appreciate the intricacy of the woodwork and the skill of the craftsmen by getting up closer than normal.
Looking west up the north aisle. This slopes up about 8 foot from top to bottom. And the columns on the right are buttressed from the left to stop them splaying out further. The mediaeval builders had a few problems of subsidence to cope with.
I wonder how many people visiting the cathedral notice this mediaeval painting of an owl? There are a couple of owl carvings in the choir stalls but this one is tucked away at the top of the arch between the quire and the nave.
A view up the nave at night.
From the organ loft looking onto the large wooden cross suspended over the nave.
A memorial, in the cathedral cloisters, to the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of the last century. It was placed there in 2015 and is just one of four commemoration statues in Wales. Not that there's a large Armenian community in Wales, it's just that their plight under the hands of the Turks/Ottomans obviously resonates in the Principality. But, it should be mentioned, that it was not placed there without some controversy, not least of which over the use of the word 'genocide'. The Turkish government still deny that this was the case.
Mrs P's family history tells us that, around 1789, her 3x-great grandfather, Abraham/Abram Garrett was born in Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire. He, and his family, would have been very familiar with St Caradog's church and, although we've yet to confirm it, might have been baptised, married and buried here. Abraham was one of the many people tempted out of West Wales to work in the iron works near Blaina and Ebbw Vale and that's where the family line continues. Abraham swapped rural tranquility for the smoke-filled business of the valleys. What a contrast.
St Caradog's is a quaint little church with an interesting vaulted ceiling. We were there just after a Harvest Festival, if the presence of bales in the porch and straw everywhere was anything to go by.
One unusual feature was this squint passage, through which people could see the main altar during services. There is some evidence to suggest that this may been just off the original entrance to the nave.
A few miles to the west is Jeffreyston (aka Jeffreston) and the 12th Century church of St Jeffrey and St Oswald. But the church is almost certainly much earlier than this: there is an 8th century carved stone preserved in the porch and the circular churchyard is another sign of very early beginnings.
Another neat interior with squints either side of the altar chapel. How much of this was original is hard to say as the Victorian's carried out a substantial remodelling.
The reason for visiting this church was that is was the place where Abraham Garrett married his first wife, Martha Hix/Hicks, here. They were married on 28th October 1810 and, by sheer coincidence, we visited on the anniversary of their marriage on 28th October 2016. If they'd lived, they would have been married 206 years! Sometime before 1836, Martha had died but not before giving birth to Mrs P's 2x-great grandmother, Anne Garrett, who went on to marry into the Stiff branch of Mrs P's family.
And with the sun setting in the west and illuminating the Bell Tower of the cathedral, it's time for us to bid farewell for another 12 months. We've just heard that the next Bishop of St David's will be female (Revd Canon Joanna Penberthy) so it's going to be interesting to pick up on any changes when we next visit.

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