Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Here are a few photos of Cardiff which is a very large city, much larger than Newcastle and perhaps not quite as large as Sydney. A far cry from the Cardiff we know so well.

Today we drove to see Caerphilly Castle covering 30 acres, it is one of the greatest surviving castles in the medieval Western world. It was a highpoint in medieval defensive architecture with its massive gatehouses and water features. It was built by Earl Gilbert de Clare, at beginning of 1268 to frighten Llewelyn, the last native Prince of Wales from fighting the Normans in the southern part of Wales. It was then used as a model for Edward I's castles in North Wales. Crafty Llewelyn seized it when it was half finished, but it was soon back in Norman hands. After Llewelyn's defeat and death, the Welsh threat substantially ended, and the castle became the administrative centre for de Clare's estates. Edward II spent time here. Caerphilly Castle became uncomfortable for a family residence and so began decaying, and stone was taken to build a nearby country house. The Victorian Bute family coal money rescued and restored the castle.

This amazing wall is leaning out at a 10 degree angle but has not fallen since in over 200 years after dynamite failed to collapse this mighty fortress 

The Great Hall

Tintern Abbey was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow in May 1131. It was the second Cistercian colony founded in Britain, and the first in Wales. The Cistercian monks who lived at Tintern Abbey followed the Rule of St. Benedict. Their "Charter of Love" laid out their basic principles, of obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer, and work. With this austere way of life, the Cistercians were one of the most successful orders in the 12th and 13th centuries. The present-day remains of Tintern are a mixture of building works covering the period between 1136 and 1536. Very little remains of the first buildings; a few sections of walling are incorporated into later buildings and the two recessed cupboards for books on the east of the cloisters are from this period. In the reign of King Henry VIII, traditional monastic life in England and Wales was brought to an abrupt end by his policy of establishing total control over the church, in order to take advantage of the considerable wealth of the monasteries. In 1536, Abbot Wyche surrendered Tintern Abbey to the King and ended a way of life which had lasted 400 years. The valuables from the Abbey were sent to the King's treasury. The building was granted to the then-lord of Chepstow, Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester. Lead from the roof was sold, and building fell into disrepair. In 1901 the Abbey was bought by the crown from the Duke of Beaufort for £15,000. It was recognised as a monument of national importance and repair and maintenance works began to be carried out. The Abbey is one of the most spectacular ruins in the country and inspired the William Wordsworth poem "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey", Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Tears, Idle Tears", more than one painting by Turner. The ruins of Tintern Abbey are beautiful. The grand Gothic abbey church, carpeted in green grass and open to the sky, is especially enchanting. 

The warming room where a fire was lit on 1st November until Good Friday at Easter.

We actually spoke with the stone mason of the church and were surprised at how much reconstructive/preservation work has been carried out.

Our last stop of the day was at the Virtuous Well this Holy Well / Spring at the historical village of Trellech in Monmouthshire This well is also known as St Anne’s Well. The stone surround offered places for visitors / pilgrims places to leave offerings and the stone seats would also have been welcomed by travellers. The well was once known as 'St. Ann's Well' and was famous for its cures. It is said to be four springs, three containing iron and each curing a different illness. Its niches held cups and offerings. Pilgrims to holy wells would tie strips of cloth to nearby trees or throw bent pins into the water, a tradition has survived to the present day although today I could only see one ribbon tied on the tree behind the well. It was so wonderful to see the well sitting in nature as she has always done without the more elaborate statues and trimmings that some of the other wells have had added to them.

For many centuries a healing spring known today as St Anne's Well at Buxton, Derbyshire, attracted multitudes of people anxious to partake of its water in the hope of obtaining cures for a variety of ailments. Prior to the Reformation it had been a pilgrim shrine, perhaps the best known in Derbyshire. In fact the healing spring was sacred long before the coming of Christianity, for when the Romans arrived in what was eventually to become Derbyshire in search of lead and silver, they found a sacred spring and named their settlement at Buxton Aquae Arnemetiae; Arnemetia being a Celtic deity. Her name consists of two parts, or elements, ar(e), meaning, 'in front of', and nemeton, 'a grove', thus the name the Romans gave their settlement can be said to mean the 'water of she who dwelt, or dwells, against the sacred grove'. The name, it will be noted, may well have Druidic undertones or associations. A healing shrine which has remained a centre of pilgrimage for over seven hundred years, being known today as 'the Lourdes of Wales'. The well is known for it’s healing qualities for eyes and woman’s problems.

As well as being associated with the Celtic deity Annis, goddess of waters, wells and wisdom, St. Anne's well is also said to be the haunt of fairies, who come out each midsummer's eve to dance around the well and drink from harebell cups.

The waters today are still so clear even though the waters do not seem to run off as they once did

We then drove to Monmouth our home for the evening.

The view from our room over the village square.

The Punch House our room top floor middle window

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