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Breconshire Insurance Committee.











County Cricket.







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Builth Guardians.


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BUILTH WELLS NATURALISTS At the Priory Church, Brecon. [SPHCIAL TO THE COUNTY TIMES."] To attempt anything like an adequate des- cription of the old Priory Church at Brecon within the compass of a newspaper article is im- possible. A few general impressions of the I ancient pile must suffice. Promptly at 3 o'clock on Saturday we were met by our guide, Miss Gwenllian E F Morgan, who first addressed the Builth contingent near the Font. The Builth Naturalists have now listened to many gentle- men, distinguished in the various branches of Natural Historv, but this was the first time we were privileged to listen to a lady. We have bad lectures on botanical subjects, archaeology, ornithology, geology, &c., but it is safe to say that Miss Morgan's address was equal to any in lucidity, cogency and general excellence. Without a note and with admirable precision, she expounded the antiquities of the church, the "long drawn aisle and fretted vaults," the chancel with its rich design, the glories of the ancient pile. The church stands on an eminence, as Leland says, "without the waulle up the Rise of Honddye." It was formerly called The Church of the Holy Rood, "Ecclesia sanche crucia." The stone corbels on which the Rood beams rested are still intact, and stairs in the walls of the nave lead to doors which opened on the Rood-loft. The crucifix was credited with miraculous powers, and its virtues were greatly vaunted by the contemporary poets. Griffydd ap leuan recognized the primacy of Brecon, when he sang thus in 1518. Rhodded er nodded i ni lawn obaith Val yn aber bodni." The Rood was of enormous size, and the list of its virtues was practically sterotyped. The bliftl received their sight, cripples walked, the mentally alHicted were restored to sanity. THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. The present Church is supposed to be the third built on the original site. After the de- molition of the first Church, the second was built by the redoubtable Bernard de Newmarch, first upholder of the Norman sway in Brecon- shire. Of the Norman Church the only remains are the once richly decorated font, and the walls in the nave adjoining the west arch of the tower. The third church was begun in the first part of the 13th cen tury, tbe magnifict nt chancel, the glory of the church, the transepts and massive tower being erected in the time of Giles de Brios, Bishop of Hereford. The lofty nave exhibits the change from the Early English to the Decorated style, and was built in the 14th century when the De Bohuns were masters of the district. The simplicity and chasteness of the recumbent effigy of a lady,one of the Games of Aberbran, are admirable. The simplicity, proportional balance, and harmonious blend of the nave are very striking. The north and south aisles were separated from the central aisle up to 100 years ago by carved wooden screens emblematic of the trade guilds of Brecon. THE GUILD CHAPELS. These Guild Chapels of the Corvizors and Tailors, the Weavers and Tuckers are full of interest, and point to the fact that the commerce of the town was by no means unimportant in early days. The Guilds were bodies who banded together for the mutual protection of trade interests, and were the natural precursors of the modern Trades Unions. In the ancient guilds there was a proper blend of business and piety, and the merchants came forward with benefac- tions as the Lord prospered them. It may be interesting for Builth readers to recall that there was an ancient Hansa Guild in our town, whose privileges are detailed in the old town charter, which is still extant. The rich wool staplers and other successful merchants were wont to return thanks as the Lord prospered them, and many of the finest chantry chapels have been founded by the wealth of these religious guilds or fraternities. Not only did these religious guilds exist for the purpose of mutual assistance; they also expended large sums of money on charitable works. In one of the Guild Chapels at Brecon is an effigy in stone, which Dr. Milner, a high authority, considers to be that of a lay- man, probably a provost of one of the trade guilds. THE TOWER AND CHANCEL. Proceeding along the nave our guide explained to us the massive and impressive tower, where the Early English work begins. The massive tower, "four square to all the winds that blow," viewed from the outside, contributes to the sense of bulk and severity, for the building was at once a temple and a fortress. This im. pression is emphasized on viewing the embattled parapets and 'the bulky walls. Miss Morgan pointed out that the two inner shafts of the nave and chancel arches stop at the corbels where stood the rood screens, ending in carved foliage. There are six bells above. The chancel is the chiefest glory of the church, and in the words of Mr Freeman is "one of the choicest examples of Early English style." There is a charm and beauty which belie the external severity, and the restoration admirably accords with the original intention. The richly moulded doorways leading to the side chapels, the beauti- ful windows, the triple piscinse, and richly ornamented sedilia were much admired. THE EAST WINDOW. The East Window is worthy of notice. It is filled with stained glass in memory of the bravelofficers and men who were cut to pieces at Isandhlwana, in Zululand, or at Rorke's Drift 10 miles away. This happened in 1879, and the British force was almost annihilated by an over- whelming force of Zulus. Out of 800 British soldiers only 40 escaped. A brass tablet on the north wall of the sanctuary commemorates the names of the men who fell at Rorke's Drift. The Regiment, the 24th, was closely connected with Brecon, and contained the largest number I of Y.C.'s in the army. THE HAVARD CHAPEL. This was called after tbe Havards, an influen- tial Norman family in the district. Many of tbe yeomen of Breconshire possess this surname to- day, although the only relic of the original family is a stone bearing their crest and motto I under the east window. The altar tomb of the renowned Welsh Justiciary, Sir David Williams, is also in this chapel. He was a man of eminence, and one of the Justices of Pleas, who died in 1613. He is here represented in his judicial robes, a scarlet coloured gown cuffed with ermine. The south transept is called Capel-y-Cochiad or chapel of the red-haired men. THE CRESSET STONE. Before leaving the Church we were shewn the Cresset stone behind the font. It was dis- covered in a garden at Brecon, and originally came from the Priory. The stone is remark- ably well preserved, and gave the "dim religious light" to the monks as they chanted their even. ing prayers. There are thirty boles iu the stone, the circumference of each equalling that of an ordinary tea cup. These holes were filled with mutton fat, which contained wicks for the dim light. Miss Morgan described the history of the stone's discovery. It was found in a garden at Pendre, not far from the church, and had long remained in a neglected corner, and we owe its preservation to Miss Morgan's timely purchase. The Cresset bad been previously taken away from the church by someone pro- foundly ignorant of its value. Space forbids the description of a hundred and one points of interest. Before dispersing, Mr Rees Thomas, B.A., on behalf of the members of the Builth Naturalists' Society, paid a hearty tribute to Miss Morgan for so kindly explaining the antiquities of the I Priory Church, and Miss Morgan suitably responded. The day was perfect and we all agreed that this was one of the most enjoyable excursions we have had. THE NEXT EXCURSON. Although the Brecon excursion marks the termination of the official summer programme, there is a strong feeliug in favour of an additional outing. The next visit in the autumn will be to the Beulah District, when the Roman Mound at Caerau, the Motteand-Bailey at Dolaeron, and the Beacon Cam at Garn-Wen will be investigated.




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