LAST week we visited St Tewdrics Church in Mathern, Monmouthshire, and received the following reply:
Mary Pitt, Mathern: This week’s Now and Then photographs are of St Tewdrics Church, Mathern, Chepstow.
There are many different versions to the legend of King Tewdric. It is generally accepted that he had retired and handed his crown to his son Meurig, hoping to end his days as a recluse at Tintern. One version of the legend is that when the Saxons attacked Meurig’s kingdom he turned to his father for help. The battle took place at Pontysaeson, but although the Saxons were defeated Tewdric was mortally wounded.
It was his wish that he should be taken to Flatholm where he hoped to be buried. Before he died he gave orders that a chapel should be built on the site of his death.
Nearing Mathern Pill, where he was to be taken by boat to Flatholm, having bathed his wounds at the well (at the bottom of Church Lane) he died. The chapel was built by King Meurig in the seventh century and King Tewdric’s remains were buried before the altar.
The earliest part of the present church is the chancel which dates from the 13th century. In the latter part of the 19th century the church was in a derelict state, when Rev Watkin Davies arrived in 1879 he started a restoration fund. The initial work costing £2,500 was finished in time for a dedication service by the Bishop of Llandaff in 1883. Further work was carried out later in Watkin Davies’s ministry.
The Then photograph was taken c1906 from the gardens of Mathern Palace, the palace was owned by H.Aviary Tipping who spent years restoring the palace and its grounds.
The old font which is regularly used was unearthed from beneath the porch in 1943 by Rev E T Davies and helpers. The palace was formerly the home of the Bishops of Llandaff and in 1483 Bishop Marshall was responsible for the erection of the church tower which has a sundial on its south facing side. Recently a wooden carving of St Tewdric has been erected outside the church.
● David Parry, Newport: Your correspondent Keith Richards (Now and Then, September 18, 2012), is mistaken on several matters (in relation to the former Hatherleigh School, Newport): The house was built for Henry Pearce Bolt, who was responsible for the Victoria Assembly Rooms, later known as the Lyceum Theatre, and whose name is commemorated in a line of cottages, Bolt’s Row, on Chepstow Road and in Bolt Street, Pillgwenlly.
The house was built in the mid-1850s, and Bolt (mayor of Newport in 1876) named it after his home town, Hatherleigh in Devon. After Bolt died in 1884, the house was sold to Sutcliff W Ogden, who sold it by auction in 1898. It was occupied from then until 1920 by William Anning, JP. In 1924 it became a school, the late Fred Hando being its first headmaster. The above information, provided by Tony Friend, was published in the South Wales Argus of January 7, 1988.