THERE were two roads in the old days from Caerleon to Usk. The more picturesque followed the river from Ultra Pontem past Bulmoor, under Kemeys Craigs to Llantrissant, Llanllowell and Usk.

From Caerleon itself the “main road” crossed the Afon Llwyd upstream from “Pont Satwrn,” climbed the hill as a hollow way to the south of Penrhos (where once stood a Roman villa) dipped. Into the valley of the Sor Brook past “Miss Arthur’s Cottage,” and then, still as a hollow way, climbed the hill to the right of the present road to Llanhennock, continuing thence to Toll Bar.

Travellers along the present roads mistake the old road for a hedge. But if they will look under the hedge they will see the hollow track, much of it dry in the wettest winter, much of it six feet below the field levels.

Maybe they will try to imagine, as I do, what happened when two vehicles met on such a road.

Llanhennock, once a village on the main Usk road, is now a pretty, but decaying relic. It is sad to see neglect robbing us of one of our most charming hilltop hamlets.

Henog, one of our Fifth Century Saints may have loved this upland retreat, and good men throughout the years have sought its peace when “the world has been too much with them.”

Llanhennock has character. For a small village, it possesses remarkable powers of attraction.

Hence it is that motorists making for Usk find their cars suddenly diverted uphill to the rights days.

Hence it is that hikers seeking Glenusk climb the steep pitch for the sheer pleasure of seeing the old school, the “house with the wooden leg,” the grey church, and then taking the field walk past the ruined oak, as ancient as the church.

See Llanhennock in winter, when the sun shines on the rounded snow-clad fields, and when the river-valley viewed from the churchyard seems filled with the white beauty of holiness.

Visit it in high summer, when the garden of the village inn is gay with frilled marguerites and the old-fashioned sweet peas.

Gather your blackberries here in September, and your coral-coloured spindleberries in October.

Choose your evening with care around harvest time, and watch the sunset change from flame and scarlet to gold, while Mynydd Maen glows a royal purple.

Then from the churchyard (where a famous Newport rugby forward sleeps) see the moon rise in silver majesty over Wentwood.

As my sketch shows, the house with the wooden leg is, for these parts of the country, unique in design. The vane and the handsome chimneys, the decorated barge-boards, the slated upper walls, the pretty windows, the “leg” and wooden frame at the entrance, and the coach-house at the west end present a picture at once attractive and melancholy.

Attractive undoubtedly is the old hostelry - for this was once the famous “Mackworth Arms,” in coaching days the only “pull-in” between the “White Hart” at Llangibby and Caerleon — but there are ominous signs that unless repairs are carried out immediately the effect of the hilltop weather on the fabric will be serious.

In my view, and in the view of one who has travelled the world, the Llanhennock house with the wooden leg should be regarded as one of our treasured relics, scheduled as an ancient house, and saved for posterity.

Similar remarks apply with equal force to the delightful old village school opposite. The timber of the bell-turret is rapidly disintegrating. I was glad to learn that the bell is preserved in the church.

Some of the windows were blocked up long ago to evade the window-tax but it is quite evident that the ancient school was modelled on the lines of the more ancient inn.

When I was invited to see the interior, imagine my pleasure at the sight of another “wooden leg,” this time a post less than six feet in height supporting a great beam in the ceiling of the living-room, and bearing notches cut to record the annual growth of the children.

Nothing is left to indicate which of the rooms was used for a schoolroom, and no school has been held there within living memory.

If these charming old buildings were situated in the home counties they would be cherished as they deserve. May I repeat the hope that the appropriate authority will step in during this Coronation year, and preserve the Llanhennock inn and school?

Before leaving the village I strolled into the churchyard. Near the entrance is buried Gladys Corner, whom her parents knew and loved for one brief year. She died in 1885, but their faith shines through their griefas brightly now as then:

“She is not dead,

the child of our affection

But gone into that school where

She no longer needs our poor protection

And Christ Himself doth rule.”

Footnote: The above was written in 1952. Since then the house with the wooden leg has been reconstructed with loving care and the cost borne by a daughter of Gwent who lives near Llanhennock.