Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hiraeth from 2016: Day Two, Hay, Llanfoist, Abergavenny

The beauty and joy never ended. Sure, Wales can be a little damp, but how else does it stay green? And two rainbows in two days had to be a sign.

We started off towards Hay on the Radnorshire side of the Wye so that we could stop at Llowes where Roger Vaughan and Elizabeth Powel were married in 1753. The Church was closed, but there were some great views of the Black Mountains.

St. Meilig's Churchyard, Llowes, Powys (formerly Radnorshire) looking across the Wye Valley to the Black Mountains
We went in to Hay because I thought I had arranged an appointment to tour the castle. My email communications were off, but we finally got it arranged by the end of the month. We did run into a wonderful children's parade for the local school.

The Rising Generation of Daffodils.
Hanging around Hay Castle keeping warm by the mid-summer fire. There was a wood sculpture show in the main gallery that was a used bookstore last time we were in Wales. The Castle is undergoing restoration for a museum and community arts centre. There are still several dozen bookstores in the Town of Books.
The far west side of Hay Castle. The oldest Norman construction but built on the mound of Offa's Dyke from the 8th Century, CE. The Dyke was built by the Saxon king of Mercia as a dividing line to keep the Welsh in Wales and the Mercians in Mercia. Both sides were generally happy with the arrangement.
My wife and the later Jacobean to Georgian wing of Hay Castle with its formerly Victorian interiors now being renovated from dilapidated bookstore to modern art-display space.
We left Hay for a quick stop in neighboring Cusop, Herefordshire (We were right on the border of Wales and England). We returned to the Holy Yew. I'm still not sure why, but I will keep returning there as long as it and I stand (I think it will outlast me. It's still going strong at about 2,000 years).

One of four ancient yews at  St. Mary's, Cusop, Herefordshire, across the Dulas Brook from Hay and Wales.
This yew seems the oldest so perhaps the holiest but it remains a mystery to me.
Just across from the Church gate at St. Mary's, Cusop, is this public right-of-way path that I so wanted to wander reminding me of my forests in the Pacific Northwest of my youth. But our time was short so it was off to Llanfoist and Abergavenny.
We drove to Llanfoist without incident and checked in to our nice room above the pub at the River Inn down by the Usk.

The best view was out our bathroom window down the Usk Valley.
We had a beautiful evening. First we visited the place where the Vaughans lived in 1844 according to the tithe maps that I helped digitize.

This is at the location of the Tithing Lot that was rented to "John Vaughan and others" in 1844.

We stopped by churchyard where John's headstone monument is now restored. Then we had our adventure on the Blorenge. The pathway leads from St. Faith's Church where the replacement grave marker for John Vaughan (1789-1851) is now in place. And it crosses under the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal on what was once a tram road. It was the passage to the industrial revolution from the Blorenge on West through the South Valleys.

The passage under the canal.

The Llanfoist Wharf Master's House, just down from where the tunnel comes out.

Our Rainbow over Abergavenny and Llanfoist.

We  found the likely place of Elinor Jenkins Vaughan's baptism in the canal in December of 1841. It was a glorious evening!

With light still in the late summer sky, we walked over the bridge to Abergavenny to see the Castle we had missed on our last trip.

Abergavenny Castle looking back over the Usk to the Blorenge
Never trust a de Braose. They were one of the worst Marcher Lord Families. (If not the worst.) Norman Lord, William de Braose, invited all the local Welsh Princes to a Christmas feast in the castle in 1175. As it was a festive occasion, weapons were left at the door. At a signal, the de Braose retainers drew their own long knives and killed every last one of the Princes. Blood and gore for Christmas! And that's why we can't have nice "Happy Holidays!"

The remnants of the Gate Tower looking towards Abergavenny Town.
As we walked through Abergavenny, we noted the dragon door knockers.

I'm so glad to have one of my own now, thanks to my wonderful kids!

We had visited St. Mary's Priory on the last trip where some of our noble ancestors lie peacefully at rest below beautiful stone effigies. But the sun was setting on the Valley of the Usk.

St. Mary's Priory was closed so we were not able to visit the Lady Gwladys, Y Seren O Y Venni!
We walked back to the inn through the youth gathering for Saturday night festivities, both in the lower end pubs and some fancy dress party. 

We slept well.
Continue to Day Three.

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