This passage forms part of historian Fred Hando’s journey through the Gwent.

THE Chancel of Holy Trinity, Christchurch is built on one of those 'parcels' of priory land owned by Eton College (transferred from the Priory to Eton College in 1536 by Henry VIII) I am informed that the Eton authorities after patient search, have discovered in the Forest of Dean the quarry from which the stone was cut for the original church and similar stone will be used for the rebuilding.

Since the fire (1949), the church, beloved by us all, has stood open to the sky. It is possible now to get a clear conception of the original planning. Standing at the west end of the nave, observe how the chancel veers to the south.

Church authorities describe this 'delection of axis' as accidental, but when, in addition to many churches in our county I find great fanes like Cirencester and Stratford-upon-Avon, the Norman church in the Tower of London, several of our finest cathedrals as well as many on the Continent, all displaying this feature, I can say, 'The nave was the body of our Lord, the transepts His arms, and the chancel His head, fallen sideways in death.'

I am glad to record that his Norman archway, the 'healing stone' of 1376 and the memorial known as the 'Beauty of Christchurch' remain undamaged. Another monument of great interest to old Newport folk - the stone over the tomb of William Howe, skipper of the 'Welsh Prince,' which plied between Newport and Bristol - was however, irretrievably damaged by frost during a recent winter.

A fascinating L-shaped house known as Church House adjoins the church yard at Christchurch. Thick grey walls on massive foundations support stout oak beams, which retain their strength after continuous use 'from Elizabeth to Elizabeth,' and some of the original windows remain.

Tradition ascribes the first house on this site to the monks of Goldcliff Priory. As if to support this, the tiny window in the south wall at the far end of the house looks directly onto the priory, four miles away, and it is pleasant to think that light in this window may have signalled 'All's well' to the monks on the coast. But could such a light have been seen at such a distance?

During the First World War, the chief-constable at Clevedon phoned to his colleague at Newport complaining that a light was visible at Christchurch. That light was traced to this miniature window, behind which a game of billiards was in progress.

This is an extract from Hando’s Gwent, Volume One, edited by Chris Barber and reproduced with Mr Barber’s permission.