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MERTHYR DOV AN. AND IIIGII…

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MERTHYR DOV AN. AND IIIGII LTOffb. TTTnTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE SKEICH. [UW Kill. JPIULNK HKiUH'l.] -T1.». fwlknuiiifui iii(jniU>LilJy akBtchtiWUiapwrtf#» the head of Sketches aro i in the current issue i iir/u r n s Chair, a monthly agazi s ed in connection with St. Peter's IigrrrimTnlli ili r" 1 n r1;ff y' Anyone wishing to visit the sequestered villagp^f Merthyr Dovan cannot, if hailing from Card^f; do better than travel thither by the Taff Vale Barry Railway to Cadoxtcn, a distance of sev miles. I paid a flying visit to the district the otfctfr day with a youthful companion. Leaving tha««fation we skirted the Wenvoe and took the fi turn to the right in the direction of the "Royal." en, after deviating a little to the left, we contpfrfed in our former course till we reached the "Wifchill Hotel." Here we were directed to a lanej^rew yards westward, and at the entrance theret e vaulted over a style on the right and descried erthyr Dovan Church beyond the fields at a dista of half-a-mile. The walk over the green- sward exceedingly pleasant after the roads we had trav ed, and as we neared the church we meditated unsmthe liv«| of the •fa^t^n was^ Damian, or Dy^fij^^r^ncient'cT^nicieTsreWfe, was sent by Dwpu StirEleutherinstoevangelize Britain at the instance of Lucius, King of Morganwg and Gwent. Lucius, or as the Welsh love to call him, Leufer Mawr (the Great Brightness), ruled in the sec- ond century, and having heard from some of the few Christian soldiers of the Roman army of occupation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, becoming impressed with the beauty of its teachings, he sent two messen- gers to Rome, theft B B now tiln Lbulio of Catholic Unit", and in response to their appeal the successor of St. Peter sent Fagan and Dyfan to Britain. Here the saints laboured, and after baptizing Lucius and hundreds of his people found the harvest so great that they gladly received help in the persons of Medwy and Elfan, two priests likewise sent from Rome, thwt WVMr nL^k^imiwwiinniiuft— tin hat ftpt hiihnp "Piny? And so High Anglicans, whose pet bogey is the^rtuch dreaded "Italian Mission," may learn that Img be- fore St. Augustine came and, as the outspp^en Book of Homilies says, •' drowned this countayin damnable idolatry for thespaceof ninehundraenrears or more," a former Italian mission "—th#»Tof Fagan and Dy- fan-came to these shores a elped to found that Early Church to emulate lCh is their fondest, vain- est dream. And it w a be well for them to ponder over the remarkab admissions of Dr Benson when preaching the C^rtteress sermon at St. John's, Cardiff, and to know ttfat St. Dyfan and St. Augustine be- lieved antLtaught the same immutable truths as the Missio y Priest of Cadoxton district teaches to-day. The me authority, the same Sacrifice, the same Fajin, to which nothing can be added, nothing taken a e second patron of Merthyr Dovan is St. Teilo, the second Bishop of Llandaff. As the Liber Landa- vensis says :—"Tnis holy man, dearly beloved, was from his infancy a worshipper of God Therefore, he carried on his warfare by being urgent in prayer and by giving to the poor whatever he pos- sessed." Many have read of the pilgrimage this illustrious pupil of St. Dyfrig made to Jerusalem in the company of S.S. David and Padarn, how they there received the gift of tongues and were eventually consecrated bishops by the Patriarch. Upon return- ing to his native land he was chosen to succeed St. Dyfrig in the See of Llandaff. During his most edi- fying life he performed many miracles, and by his prayers, tradition says, two holy wells, one at Llan- daff and the other at Cai, in Brittany, spread forth their waters for the healing of the people." And, gentle reader, in case you should have fallen into the Bomewhat common error regarding the traditions of the Saints, it may be as well to repeat that the Catho- lic Church does not present them to her children as Articles of Faith but often as a matter of pious be lief. It should be remembered that "God is wonder- ful in His Saints," and traditions concerning those who loved God with heroic love cannot fail to edify. S. Teilo departed earthly life in the year 566, at the venerable age of 120 years, at Llandilo Fawr, in Car- marthenshire, and his relics repose in the Cathedral of Llandaff on the Epistle side of the site .of the High Altar. Wh". rri v "tyie Derail wo ooLudjfox the church key at a cottage close by. Th upier came out from his well secured dweljja^and after listening to my query asked in rusque manner whether I had obtained permisgitfn from the Rector. VTI companion said :— Come along, oldJxJ^T we shall not remove anything, neither can we>|Jfire time to ask permission." The good old jojerfwas obdurate for a season, but after we had di^pC&ed of his objections on the score of lack of south porch, and tower at the west end. It is mainly perpendicular work, recently restored. In the south wall.of the Chancel is one original window and the tower lights are small but good. But the chief glory of the place is a small early English window at the east end of north wall of nave. It is a veritable gem, and a study of the moulding would afford a genuine treat to lovers of that period of architecture. Near the porch is the socket of a cross standing upon three grey, lichen-covered steps. This hoary relic of olden piety;fprms a striking feature in the tiny churchyard and^Win an object of wonderment^e uut auidn. In the porch wwpj u bna«rfj well-preserved holy water stoup. w" wiahi?! +n mfiar tihr rhm rh nmd nur guide pushed the door and we found it was locked. had not the key with him We coaxed him out of t»e churchyard and began to ply questions rirht and left. He smiled and in a d zed manner informed us that the key was always kept by Mr Spickett, the Witch ill. I sked whether he meant the Witchill Hotel." He replied No, long way from there. Kn the Wesleyan Chapel ?" I told him chapels werarnot in my line, and that I found inns much better ides in country places. That "fellow feel inwhich "makes us wondrous kind" tound a reaflyresponse in the old man's heart, and with twinkling eye he told me, in broken English, t t He was awful fon' of beear, iss indeed. Wtfen I gave him the wherewithal to drink my healt is whole nature changed, and he repeated old ta s of his childhood and quaint bits of gossip about tme great ones of the neighbourhood. And then he ave me the reason of his former reticence. He hafl been deceived by my appearance, "he thought I j^as a teetotaller or some- thing good." But the ening was drawing to a close,, and, parting with onr friend, we made tracks for that home from home—the Ship Hotel," Barry. But as John Keble eetly sings: I came agajif: the place was bright With soniathing of celestial lisrht. It was Rosary, unday, a warm, beautifully fate day. After hejning Mass at the Wenvoe Arms Hotel, and hearing from Father Hyland that he had at length conmienced building a school-chapel, I wan- dered acros^he fields again to Merthyr Dovan. I found the uruh open and in the porch encountered the Rector, a stately old gentleman who has held the living f^r forty-six years, and whose sun is setting amidst^a splendour of varied hues telling of a well- •spentnife, the after-glow of which will linger long in th^mearts of his parishioners. And here I should like to testify to the kindness and courtesy of the aJergy in and around Barry ere I finish this, the last, ril-nit-nh of thn dirtrinf The interior of the church contains little of interest besides the font, }"1- hftf nn,n-;r,lt.tpr1 thp \.vnl"l.r hrifnin lij tihr iirrrmirirmti nf ^Iun»)' VIII. There are two bells, comparatively modern, in the tower.' and the ulnmiii pluili is* anixid ingljT pnnr Yht' registers only go back as far as 1813. The churchyard was formerly much larger than at present, and instead of only enclosing the south side it lay all around the church and comprised the field which is now recognized as glebe-land. Tli in m |iihl< thus to disfigure God's Acre, and we feel it n^re keenly when we remember Longfellow's verses I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls J? The burial-ground God's Acre It is jus^f It consecrates each grave within its wallpT And breathes a benison o'er the sleo|imig; dust. God's Acre Yes, that blessed naij^^mparts Comfort to those who in thej0(fh\ e have sown The seed that they have ^aij^red in their hearts, Their bread of life—Ala^no more their own. Into its furrows shalpl^e all be cast, h In the sure faitt^fTiat we shall rise again At the great ha^rest, when the archangel's blast Shall winn^d^like a fan, the chaff and grain. Then shj^Jfrhe good stand in immortal bloom, InUre fair garden Of that second birth Amreaeh bright blossom mingle its perfume In the churchj ard a little westward of the embattled tower is a lovely well,, «mduiblji JI hulJ n'ulL It is nicely paved and covered over, and its limped waters silently glide over the greensward to a little ravine on the north side of the church. It is highly picturesque and the large ferns hanging 0 water add a cool and refreshing air.. attracted by the large stone'which serves as s^gtfver to the well. It is partly hidden byjyywfl^les, but noting its thickness and the f. s being cham- fered on the lower part e to the conclusion that it was the old A ne; and, beyond a doubt, my supposifcjjwH'S'correct. The Rector would not haye it ntnrl thnf n *■ nnn timo thpra ma p 4ioll uu Uliu- shone uliith many ouppoood ta bays hpm cut thereon when the well was repaired and covered he, the Rector, could only see the letter it. I measured the stone and found its length ejRctly six feet, quite long enough for an altar Jm Merthyr Dovan church in fact, it could not h., e obtained an altar of any greater length. An^Tthen for that inscription Well, after much searching I found it at the extreme end of the stoneXit the side of the well-not a very probable situatfon for an official in- scription. When I had obtained a good light I read, and this is what I decipherer :—" W.R. 1639 cut in the roughest characters an, in a most crooked direc- tion. It is evidently t/Ce work of an ancestor of those demon trippers^who delight to "leave their mark on everything antique and beautiful in our land. I remembeuM the story of the stone Samuel Pickwick bougjft from before the labourer's door, and rejoiced that instead of finding Bill Stumps + his mark," Jrh&d unearthed the consecrated stone which had in other and happier days served as the Altar-Throne of the Most High. However, it may have bora put to far more profane use than it is, and we nu(y hope it will long remain near the old shrine of Dyfan as a rebuff to those who claim that the Cjrnrch of England as by law established is at one mill Lliu CllUiuh CUllluliu and Apuultulk. Leaving the Churchyard at the west end I continued across a field near to the little ravine t s y the church and catches the water e well. The ravine looked very gay with i ichen, flowers and ferns, and made one think it was spring-time instead of late autumn. *) tinj! !h) ))H ) H) !)! 111 hnllmir. inii i awakened memories of the description of a simila^ one by simple love-stricken "JohnRidd" in Blacl^ more's novel:—All by the hedge ran a little streamf a thing that could hardly name itself, flowing scarce nJore than a pint in a minute, because of the sunny weather. i Yet had this little rill crooks and crannies d^rk and bravely bearded, and a gallant rush through^, reeden pipe—the stem of a flag that was grounded^ and here and there divided threads, from the pointi^of a branch- ing stick, into mighty pools of rock^as large as a grown man's hat almost) napped wi^n moss all round L the sides and hung with corded jesses. Along and down th« tiny banks, and noddling into one another, even across main channel, hung the brown arcade of ferns some with gold tongas languishing; some with countless ear-drops jerking; some with great quilled ribs uprising and long Mfws a-flapping; others cupped, and fanning over wjim the grace of yielding, even as a hollow fountain sf$read by winds that have lost their way. Deeply arfch beyond other, plumping, stooping, glancing, gkstening, weaving softest pillow-lace, coy- ing to tile wind and water, where, their fleeting image/aanced or by which their beauty moved— Gofiknas made no lovlier thing; and only He takes k^d Uf em. one by simple love-stricken "JohnRidd" in Blacl^ more's novel:—All by the hedge ran a little streamf a thing that could hardly name itself, flowing scarce nJore than a pint in a minute, because of the sunny weather. Yet had this little rill crooks and crannies d^rk and bravely bearded, and a gallant rush through^, reeden pipe—the stem of a flag that was grounded^ and here and there divided threads, from the pointi^of a branch- ing stick, into mighty pools of rock^as large as a grown man's hat almost) napped wi^n moss all round the sides and hung with corded jesses. Along and down th« tiny banks, and noddling into one another, even across main channel, hung the brown arcade of ferns some with gold tongas languishing; some with countless ear-drops jerking; some with great quilled ribs uprising and long Mfws a-flapping; others cupped, and fanning over wjim the grace of yielding, even as a hollow fountain sf$read by winds that have lost their way. Deeply arfch beyond other, plumping, stooping, glancing, gkstening, weaving softest pillow-lace, coy- ing to tile wind and water, where, their fleeting image/aanced or by which their beauty moved— Gofiknas made no lovlier thing; and only He takes k^d Uf Ihem." Looking once again at the quiet little village with thl picturesque cottages nestling around its gray old church—a vision fair to gaze upon—and remembering that ten years ago the whole parish (and it is a rather extensive one) was truly "far from the madding crowd," the Ijome of only one hundred and three souls, one could but fear the ad vance of the inevitable builder and the hundreds of new comers who will transform the village into a busy, prosaic township, and old friendships, old landmarks be done away and jj ■faaiMgHDld Ituutw* known no more. Hrnriti )T 11 two more fields I gain the road and soon reacriTSfeel Colcot Arms." At the distance of some fifty J yards the Wenvoe road is entt red, and here I turned to the left and then to the right down a lane at thej end of the first meadow on my right hand. The landr I entered was somewhat tortuous, being little el^ than a bridle path. After a walk of half-a-milaf I came to Hignlight Farm-house, and noticed a romantic well opposite, the trees above it taking/most fantastic form. Three hundred yards beyowl the house is Church Field. It was originally ^church- yard, and in the midst of it stand the scan|r remains of an old church. The walls rise about a Joot above the ground, and are composed of blue lias and lime- stone similar to that quarried afr Leckwith. The chancel measures (externally) fifteen feet by fourteen and the nave is tfiirty feet long. The sole entrance was on the south/side of the nave. By the position of the stones I waff able to determine the church as of perpendicular daj(e, and could imagine the appearance of the building when intact. It would be a plain edifice, without porch, possessing a bell gable at the west end And a few cusped and labelled windows in nave asfi chancel. Cross, piscina, and stoop have long sinc^raisappeared, and over the crumbling stones still iiysitu Nature has thrown her protecting mantle in th^form of a small grove of fine trees. Cattle wandeyover the old burial ground, and it is difficult to thinknvith the poet:— This is the fieUran Acre of our God, This is the oface where human harvests grow! JllSjjJP8 jvou wi^f ask^ the reason^of this neglect and Protestant, pojfht of view is a capital one—i.e., there is neither ti|fne nor endowment attached to the old Bhrine Highlight, mis-named a parish, is an extra- r h a t r parochial district, and has only two houses—farmers' pa re id en d residence and the occupiers are exempt from the payments of tithes. The dedication of the church has P. y b_ but been loft, but we may find some consolation in the thougM that, unlike other ancient churches, it has not b^en desecrated by services strange, and little like thos/of its first worshippers. This utter neglect of a taMrnacle dedicated to God does not reflect much cralait upon Protestantism, but demonstrates in painful glare one phase of the polity of the Anglican BstalalinhweBte^ i

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