Monday, 29 June 2009

Beauty under the Black Mountains

After the busy-ness of our 3 Churches Mass yesterday, I was invited to spend a day out in the beautiful countryside north of Abergavenny. After a coffee in the new-ish and very nice caff in the precincts of the (now Anglican) old Priory Church in the town, where we bumped into the vicar, we set off into the depths of the country to find St Martin's Cwmyoy.
This lovely old church is perched on a hillside and severely afflicted with a very bad case of subsidence. The tower leans at an angle worse than Pisa and there's not a right angle in the whole place. Inside, as long as you don't feel queazy with the lack of straight lines, all is calm and ancient. Beautiful. I won't divulge the name of the pub between Cwmyoy and Llanfihangel Crucorney where we were refused lunch at 1.40pm even though it was advertised as available until 2. They were already cooking for four apparently. Bless...
Instead, we pressed on to the equally beautiful St Issui's at Patrishow, which was even more alone on its hillside. Here the most famous attraction is its astonishing rood-screen. Before the Reformation most churches had a screen separating the nave, where the people were, from the altar area. This one survived the wreckers of the Reformation and is a totally virtuoso display of woodcarver's skill. The delicacy and intricacy are amazing. In my picture notice too another very rare survival, the two side altars in front of the screen, complete with consecration crosses cut into the stone altar-tables. If you haven't seen these two churches, take a trip this summer - but make sure you have a good map!

p.s. I will not divulge either the name of the large and rather self-important-looking pub on the road out of Abergavenny towards Pontypool where we couldn't get any food at 3.15. Was that an unreasonable request in this day and age?

My pics show Cwmyoy across its valley, the leaning tower and topsyturvy interior, and then the screen at Patrishow.

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