The Tintern Village Website

Autumn 2002


Once again it's August, and our journey to the Showground at Builth Wells for our conference is almost here.

It's a hectic week as Kate prepares her latest newsletter on the children in Uganda, and I prepare for my part in helping to guide the Conference. We expect up to one thousand people during the seven days, most staying for the whole time.

Our good friend and Bishop, Rowan, will be with us for a day, and many other leaders from the Church in Wales will be there. Some of our delegates, with their children, come from various parts of England and overseas.

It is a holiday for most, in a large Christian family. The teaching is good and the worship really wonderful. But we go looking for more than these. We seek the Lord, and believe He will speak, through the Holy Spirit, to everyone who will be willing to hear. The word from the Lord will come through teaching, singing, silence and the words of friends. And we ask Him to give us yet more of Himself. As we all, together, wait expectantly upon Him, we trust, and pray, that He will come down upon us in power and that the Glory of Jesus will be revealed.

"Revival" must begin with us, and the Lord will come at a time of His Choosing. But we long for Him to come now, perhaps at Builth, and then we could carry that Anointing back to all our towns and villages, and nothing would ever be the same again.

Pray with us for Him to come. "We need you, Lord".



Bishop of Monmouth, the Rev. Professor Rowan Williams was the popular choice to become the Archbishop of Canterbury and he has now been elected to the highest position in the Anglican church. Professor Rowan Williams was ordained a deacon in 1977 and Priest in 1978. He served as a tutor at Westcott House, Cambridge until 1980. From 1980 to 1983 he was honorary curate at Chesterton Saint George, in the diocese of Ely. During this time he lectured at the University of Cambridge, becoming Dean at Clare College until 1986. He had already been appointed Canon theologian at Leicester Cathedral, a non-resident appointment, and in 1986 he was appointed Canon of Christchurch, Oxford. Professor Williams trained for the Sacred Ministry at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield and studied at both universities of Cambridge and Oxford. He was awarded his Doctorate in Philosophy in 1975 and his Doctorate in Divinity in 1989. In 1990 he was elected a fellow of the British Academy.

Professor Williams is a native of Wales, who was born and grew up in Swansea, and has been foremost in the tradition of clear disciplined theological scholarship. He will bring many fine qualities to his leadership role as Archbishop of Canterbury and we wish him every success.


ROGER PHELPS 1938-2002

Roger was born in Brockweir and lived all his life around and about this area. He moved from Itton to Tintern in the 1970s with his wife Nina and daughter Trudi. He was very much a local man and loved this area, and family connections go back many generations in this locality. His grandfather was pastor of Bethel Church, Tintern.

He had various jobs during his lifetime including timber merchant, driving heavy machinery (during the construction of the tunnels at Newport and the Severn Bridge), builder and working for Calor Gas in Cornwall and elsewhere to name a few.

Roger was saved at a meeting of the evangelist Mr Valdes at Newport in the 1950s. Later he went to a meeting at Bulwark Church to see Nina's grandfather, Edgar Bevan from Itton, who was 90 years old, get baptised. He decided then and there to go through water in his best suit, with no change of clothing.

In more recent years he has been involved in transporting materials to churches in Poland and was prepared to drive there and back again with hardly a stop. He was often involved with building and decorating work in various local churches and lately had got involved with helping out at a Christian radio station and had hoped to continue that work.

Roger was amazingly brave during his cruel and vicious illness, enduring horrendous treatment and complications, and many emergency admissions to hospital. He was unshaken by whatever he had to suffer or whatever the doctors said to him, and just continued to fight on. He said how his Christian life had changed during his illness and how his faith had deepened. Death had no fears for him but he dearly would have liked some more years. There were many things he still wanted to do and even when he was very ill he tried to take up new challenges. His faith, determination and strength of character shone through during his illness and he was pleased to be able to be nursed at home.

Last autumn he had a vision of Heaven and heard such beautiful singing. In fact he really did not want to listen to music anymore as he said that it was not like the music of Heaven which had no beat as there is no time there.

Nina and Trudi want again to express their thanks to so many people for their thoughts towards them and the appreciation that they have shown for Roger. They are grateful for the telephone calls, cards, tributes and help they have received from friends and neighbours and for the way in which members of both churches in Tintern have supported and helped them. Special thanks to Philip Blatchly, Funeral Directors, for the provision of such an excellent and caring service and for help at a time that would otherwise be unbearable.


Please note that the closing date for the Winter 2002 issue is
SUNDAY 17th November 2002.

Articles and requests for advertisements should be sent to the Editor
David Ford, Monkstone, Chapel Lane, Tintern, tel : 01291-689233
Advertisements in this magazine are charged at :
5 per quarter page per four issues
10 per half page per four issues
20 per whole page per four issues
The current print run is 250 copies

We are looking for cover illustrations for future issues, particularly for our winter issue which could have a Christmas theme. They need to be black and white on A4 or A5 portrait format (ie upright) paper. The title etc will be added at the production stage. Please discuss any suggestions with the Editor, David Ford, on 689233, or the Publisher, John Bathgate, on 689328.


Jubilee Day started overcast with intermittent drizzle but this did not dampen the excitement as parents and children began to prepare themselves for the start of the procession at 12.30 pm from the Wye Valley Hotel.

Three floats, led by the Tintern Queen, on a pony, and Prince with hunting dog, were escorted by a excellent troop of Morris Men and Women, members of the Village VPA dressed as various vegetables and other eccentric members of the village population in various disguises hoping no doubt not to be recognised.
Prince - Stewart Williams
Queen - Melissa Ball
Princess's:- Sarah Ball, Sally Ball, Jenny Williams, Rachel Williams, Rhiann Michael, Jema Appleton.

On arrival at the Sports Field the Jubilee Day Events were officially opened by Mr Jim Jones one of the oldest residents of Tintern a retired Police Sergeant and Water Bailiff.

The judging of the best costume then took place with Mr John Bathgate winning the adult section for his interpretation of a scarecrow and the granddaughter of Mr and Mrs Mitchley winning the junior section as a baby sunflower in pushchair.

Following the opening the sun came out and everyone got into the spirit of the day with such things as Morris Dancing and singing, the welly throwing, archery and pony rides creating much fun and enjoyment.

Kath Mackie supplied all those on diets with large cream teas and drinks whilst showing them how slim they had been over the past 50 years with photographs and press cuttings of the village and its life.

The children's races and five-a-side football also drew support and along with many stalls completed the "field" events.

Whilst we "struggled" in the hot sun in the field the Village W.I. Ladies were enjoying themselves in the village hall feeding what appeared to be hundreds of children with jelly and cakes. From what I saw, the village hall floor was also well fed, but perhaps that's the modern way of feeding kids these days.

Following their carefree and enjoyable afternoon and being gluttons for punishment, or was it to show the W.I. Dunkirk spirit, they then proceeded to prepare the food for the sell out evening meal and disco.

The food kindly provided and prepared in the main by local businesses was excellent and plentiful and the comments received only confirmed the need to say a big thank you to all involved, especially the Ladies of the W.I.

Donated raffle prizes ranged from beauty treatment and hair appointments to rounds of golf amongst many other prizes and Sue Ball who had been selling tickets all day was well pleased with the money collected.

The mystery prize of the evening was to start the Grand Firework display and this was won by Bernard Bradshaw who pressed the big red button and set off a large thunderclap, which it appears everyone else heard apart from me.

We all then left the village hall and followed the flares to the riverside behind the Anchor Hotel to finish the day's events with a superb Firework Show.

The Tintern Golden Jubilee Committee are pleased to be able to inform you that following your support of the various fund raising and Jubilee Day events a sum of 2205.00p was raised.
All accounts are available for scrutiny from the Committee Treasure at the Anchor Hotel after suitable notice and the payment of a small fee.

The Committee have met and it has been decided that this money should be put towards the following:
Christmas Lighting - A total of 8 Lamp Post fitted Christmas lights will be purchased and fitted in time for the 2002 Christmas celebrations.
Following the refurbishment of the Village Hall kitchen, a safe permanently fixed hot water system for the making of coffee and tea will be purchased and presented to the Village Hall for use by all Organisations and individuals hiring the Hall.

The Jubilee Committee would like to thank all of those who supported both the Jubilee Day and Fund raising events for without your support the Jubilee Day would not have been the success that it was.

We look forward to seeing you all at future fund raising events - remember a small contribution by each means a big impact for all.

My special thanks to:
Rosemary Beck - Secretary, Supplies Officer for Ideas, material, posters, paperwork and enthusiasm.
The W.I. Ladies - For all their hard work and excellent food.
Jan Gibbard - Party Housing Officer and Organiser.
Janet Hill - For the idea, fund raising and sports.
Sue Ball for the Raffle, and fund raising.
Alan Butt - Accountant, Quiz Master, diplomat and food supplies.
Leila Hayward - for her youth and posters.
To Stan and Sylvia - for taking the time to make us so much money.
And to all other members of the committee who gave their time to make the event the success it was.

A.J.Parsons, Chair Tintern Jubilee Committee


As is normally the case, the weather for our summer meetings was kind to us and we met at Parva Farm one June evening for a tour of the vineyard. One or two of us baulked at the hill climb (but seemed to regain enough energy to join in the wine tasting session) and most of us went home clutching various bottles and plants from the very interesting garden centre.

July found us holding our annual garden party at the home of Christine and Bernard Bradshaw in Parva Springs where we were amazed at the wide range of plants growing happily in containers on the raised patio and tried to forget the number of steps back down to ground level. The main business of the evening was to make arrangements for the August Show which is of course the culmination of all our efforts during the year.

Mr Brian Young, for so many years a stalwart exhibitor and perennial winner of cups, opened the Show and later presented the cups and trophies. Both the Flower cup and the Cookery cup were won by Mrs Wendy Boast with Mrs Joan Dexter winning the Vegetable cup. The runner-up in the vegetable section was Mrs Jean Bathgate with cups for Best in Show going to Mrs Linda Simmons and Mr Bernard Bradshaw.

We had many more visitors this year than last, so many thanks to everyone who came to support us. It made such a difference to our enjoyment of the afternoon and we look forward to seeing you again next year.



Members enjoyed their lunch at the Abbey Mill to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee, even though it was one of the wettest days of the summer.

They were sorry to hear of the death of Bert Williams, husband of member Kathleen. In the past Bert has joined members on outings and lunches and several times has welcomed the Tuesday Club to his lovely garden.

Jean Davey 689212


Tintern WI still meets at the Village Hall on the third Monday of the month at 2.00pm. New members are always very welcome.

It has been a busy summer for the WI with members hosting and making soups and puds for the monthly lunches to raise money for the Village Hall funds.

July's meeting was a visit to the Son et Lumiere at Chepstow Castle. Husbands and members had supper at the Village Hall beforehand. It didn't rain for the performance either!

Members and friends also attended a Garden Party in aid of the St David's Foundation at the home of Catherine McEwen. It was a lovely afternoon in a beautiful garden with a superb tea.

David Morgan of Cardiff have invited the WI for one of the store's Christmas shopping days in November with a 10% discount card. One member of another WI bought a bed last year, a big saving with her 10% discount card.

The next meeting will bring slides and a talk on Hong Kong given by members Madge Cowell and Jan Gibbard on the 16th September.

The next Soup and Pud Lunch will be on Wednesday 4th September 12.30-2.00pm at the Village Hall.

Jean Davey 689212


St. Oudoceus, Llandogo with St. Michael, Tintern Company, No. 4689

The Brigade is recognised as being the official uniformed youth organisation within the Anglican Church, operating throughout the U.K. and the Commonwealth.

The Church Lads' Brigade was founded in London on 11th November 1891. The Church Girls' Brigade was founded, also in London, in 1901, but both remained separate until the Amalgamation in 1978, resulting in the Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade which we have today.

The C.L.B and C.G.B. is a Christian organisation. Thus, religious instruction will be in keeping with that of the Church in Wales.

Children and young adults are encouraged to attend the monthly Church Parade, to participate in family services, to be confirmed and, eventually, to become active members of the Church family.

The Brigade is a uniformed organisation. The uniform is smart and attractive and the members take pride in it. We ask parents to consent to a hire charge of 15 as a once only payment Should a lad/girl leave the Company, the full uniform and any other equipment belonging to the Brigade should be returned to the Company.

To encourage the development of the young people, the Brigade has a badge scheme for each age group comparable with other organisations. From the age of 16 we look for leadership potential. This is encouraged by participation in Junior leaders, Team challenge and the Preliminary Leadership certificate. At the age of 14, prominence is given to the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme. Training, locally and nationally, is provided for all Officers, Warrant Officers and Registered Helpers as soon as possible after enrolment.

Officers and Warrant Officers must be communicant members of the Church.

The object of the Brigade has been, for over 110 years, "to extend the Kingdom of Christ among young people and help them to be faithful members of the Church".

The Brigade motto and hymn is 'Fight the good fight'. 1 Timothy, Ch6, v.12.
The Brigade badge depicts the Whole Armour of God. Ephesians, Ch6., v.10.
The Brigade prayer is that given at baptism, confirmation and ordination.

A weekly subscription is asked to cover the cost of uniform, equipment, rental of accommodation and training. This, at present, is 50p.

We are circulating this information in advance and in anticipation of the Autumn term to commence in September.

Miss Tessa Browning, a member of Company staff and in training for the Preliminary Certificate of Leadership to appointment to Warrant Officer, was accepted and is now enlisted in the Royal Air Force. She will be greatly missed. This leaves the Company without the essential supervision of the youngest section, the MARTINS.

Indeed, the lack of adult leadership and support now presents a problem for the future.
Statutory Youth Clubs are funded and provided with paid staff, well trained, by the local authority. But they often lack discipline and systematic supervision which has resulted in closures in Tintern and St. Arvans.

Uniformed organisations, which have been in existence for more than 100 years, must comply with all regulations of the Children's' Act and Child Protection Act. All leaders and helpers applying to work with young people must sign a Disclosure Application form which is directed to the Criminal Records Bureau via our National Headquarters. Examples of papers and other documents issued to parents and prospective adult helpers are available on request.

So we pride ourselves that the Company is properly planned, programmed and run, providing that adequate trained staff is available.

The C.L. and C.G.B. is a parochial unit. The Incumbent of the parish, i.e. the Rector is 'ex officio' responsible and in command of the Company. He alone can appoint leaders and helpers and would expect to leave the efficient running of the Company to them.

Since the founding of the Llandogo with Tintern Company in December 1999, we have continually asked for leaders and helpers to come forward. Sadly, a few who offered help soon found the commitments made it impossible. Now we are reduced to two officers in training and two registered helpers. This will NOT sustain the three sections: Martins, Y.B & Y.G.C and J.T.C; each section which required male and female leaders. In an environment which these days shuns or even discredits the Church, such commitment is hard to find.

But the brigade, for over 110 years has shown leadership by example. Surely, in our combined parishes there are some Christians with the will to lead, to teach and inspire the children we work with.


If you approach Wales by the Severn Bridge you will see Sabrina as Milton never saw her. Riding high you look down on the meeting of sky and water to which the play of light gives a curiously modern effect of stainless steel. It makes an appropriate setting for the industrial outline of Avonmouth's chimneys and gantries on the one hand and Berkeley's fortress-like power station on the other. Ahead lie the cliffs of Beachley from whence the ferry used to ply. Beyond that lie the beckoning hills of Gwent, holding a promise that will not disappoint but lure you on to other hills and counties until you reach the Celtic Sea: but, more immediately, we are bound for Tintern.

The road runs past the Chepstow Racecourse, skirts the village of St. Arvans and curves under the great limestone rampart of Wyndcliffe. Here beech and ancient yew trees overhang the road to our left. On our right the ground falls away steeply to the banks of the Wye, but the trees grow so thickly that we do not glimpse the river until there is a break in the foliage above the quarry. Then the road begins to slope, there is farm land on our left and now an open view of the opposite bank which rises, through woods, to Offa's Dyke, the King of Mercia's barrier against the warring Welsh.

It is the next curve in the road which gives us the first view of the Abbey Church. Founded in 1131 by the Norman overlord who ruled from Chepstow Castle it was re-built in the 13th century by Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and, under Thomas Cromwell's Act, suppressed in 1535. So for four hundred years the Monastery was the home of the Cistercian monks who lived quiet lives in remote places - farming, fishing, caring for the infirm. They employed many lay brothers but, eventually, as today's bureaucrats would say, it was considered 'not economically viable'. The bells and the lead were sold to the Earl of Worcester, who obtained the land. The church was soon desolate, the home of pigeons and jackdaws.

In the eighteenth century, when Gothic ruins were considered romantic, Turner painted the ivy-covered, crumbling walls in this guise. Later Wordsworth came walking through the valley of the 'Sylvan Wye' and saw the 'pastoral farms, green to the very door..' Parson Kilvert climbed the Abbey walls to see the view, saw the river at low tide and compared it to a 'muddy drain'. Tennyson wrote more kindly of the full flood:
'There twice a day the Severn fills,
The salt sea water passes by
And hushes half the babbling Wye,
And makes a silence in the Hills.'

Yet how wise was the man who first chose the green meadows in the fertile valley as a site for the new monastery. Here the stream comes from the hills bringing constant clear water, here the morning sun strikes the great East window and the evening light casts a softer radiance on the West front so that the old red sandstone glows pinkly. At midsummer when the moon is full, the tourists departed and the jackdaws asleep, it is said that the shadow of the Cross lies upon the nave. A beautiful woman who has a good bone structure keeps her beauty in old age - the Abbey without its fine glass, without its vaulted roof and precious ornaments will still appear noble and dignified when this and many other generations of sightseers have gone.

On the north side lie the monastic buildings which reveal the domestic life of monk and lay brother. The plan can be followed in any guide book - Library, Chapter House, sleeping and eating quarters, the Warming Room, the Infirmary where not only sick monks but also local people were nursed. There are small things which are curiously interesting: the hatch from the kitchen to the Frater where the monks dined, the place they washed their hands before eating, the drains, the course of which are being re-used now for the new lavatories in the visitors' car park.

In the Abbot's garden there is an ancient mulberry tree that seems to grow from a broken branch, perhaps a descendant of a sapling planted by the monks. A great millstone lies there too, hidden by the summer grass. In 1973 the WI planted a walnut tree nearby, a gesture that may please the Abbot if he should still be aware that someone has a thought for his orchard. What became of him and his twelve monks in 1535? They may have been absorbed into another Cistercian House, it is unlikely that the lay brothers had any such refuge. They who had laboured in the mill, on the farms and orchards, were they now turned out to beg? It is hardly possible that the new Master paid much attention to their case.

In the Jubilee Year of 1977 there was held in the Abbey an interdenominational service, the address being given by a Roman Catholic priest for the first time since the Abbot left his lodging and his garden. When the setting sun shone through the West window that evening perhaps a ray of tolerance and understanding shone with it.

Tintern Abbey is not forgotten, nearly 150,000 visitors came to see it in 1977. If a monkish ghost who once lived his life in this remote valley, mingled with the camera-clicking, ice cream-licking, paper-dropping crowds and heard their typical remarks:
"Pity they never got around to putting a roof on it"
"Isn't it awful, the damage them bombs done?"

I wonder just what he would think!


Suicide Bombers were not in the headlines 160 years ago, but people in the Wye Valley and the Welsh Valleys still had a dreadful situation to face.

Whit-Thursday 1839 was not an easy time to be visiting friends or shopping in Newport. The May Fair would be opening in Newport with peep-shows and roundabouts, but rumour had it that the Chartists had picked that day to hold a great demonstration. It was said that from thirty to forty thousand were coming to Newport, and the worst was feared, that they would pillage and wreck. Mothers and little ones said their prayers behind locked doors.

After dawn that day, many people left the town, most of the fairground people packed up and left the old cattle market ground, and went rushing along the roads, hoping not to meet the marching men. A terrifying mass of men, some half-drunk, yelling swearing and waving cudgels approached Newport and it was estimated afterwards that they numbered thirty thousand.

As the invading Chartists marched into the town centre, a little army of soldiers were stationed in the Westgate Hotel with only three ball cartridges each. The Chartists reached the space in front of the famous old coaching-house, the Westgate, and began their threatening campaign of destruction by breaking the windows with stones picked up on the road into town. No response being made to their attack, they grew bolder, and presently a number made a rush for the hotel gates.

As the first of the crowd reached the big doors, the soldiers, who were posted at the window in the wing commanding the entrance opened fire. Crash! went twenty-four muskets and down fell two of the leaders. The Chartist crowd was staggered, and before the rioters could recover, another volley was poured into them and more fell.

That was quite sufficient for the invaders and, stricken with panic, they turned and fled out of the town. Unfounded rumours that the Cavalry were coming hastened the retreat. As a matter of fact there were no soldiers within ten miles of the town, save the twenty-four posted in the Westgate. Had the mob been aware of these facts, the results might have been different. So twenty-four soldiers with only three rounds each drove away thirty-thousand. Newport remained un-pillaged and the Great Chartist demonstration fizzled out.

The leaders - Frost, Williams and Jones were sentenced for treason and felony. The old punishment of hanging, drawing and quartering, was of course never carried out and they escaped with various terms of imprisonment.

The Chartists obtained their name from the Charter they wanted for a living wage as free men. It is good to know that the charter they wanted for liberty and to live a good life has now been granted, with none of the evil results that people in the old days so freely prophesied would follow.



Residents of Tidenham have been campaigning for a change of the postcode, for their postcode is Welsh, but the address is Gloucestershire. The people are unhappy that they have an English address and a Welsh postcode, and being fiercely proud of their English status, they want it changed.

The same has been said about Monmouthshire and Wales, for over the years it has been the subject of much debate.

The Act of Union in 1536 created seven Counties, which along the Border Districts have long been associated with Wales, to which Shropshire, Herefordshire were added.

Monmouthshire consisted of the marcher lordships of Newport, Abergavenny, Monmouth, Chepstow, Caerleon and Usk.

In 1543 a second Act of Union established in the Court of Great Session, a distinct Welsh system, based on four three-county circuits: Anglesey, Caernarfon and Merionnydd: Flint, Denbigh and Montgomery: Radnor, Brecon and Glamorgan: Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke. Monmouthshire was not included and through this the notion arose that it had ceased to be part of Wales. This notion had little substance and became meaningless after 1830 when the Court of Great Session was abolished.

Some legislation passed between 1536 and 1900 assumed that Monmouthshire was not part of Wales, like the Act which closed public houses on Sunday and did not apply to Monmouthshire. The 13 counties were always referred to as Wales and Monmouthshire, even in the 20th century. The Welsh status of Monmouthshire passed beyond doubt in 1974 when it became the county of Gwent.

When Gwent was abolished in 1996, the new units of local government which replaced it paid scant attention to any presumed distinction between Wales and the old Monmouthshire.


John Renie wanted to make sure his final resting place was known. He was an accomplished artisan who died in 1832, so he designed an inscription on a grid of 15 squares down and 19 squares across, giving him 285 letters.

He is buried in St. Mary's Church, Monmouth and people have puzzled over what looks like a giant crossword. Actually there are 46,000 permutations of the same message "Here lies John Renie". His design is based on an acrostic puzzle, popular in Georgian and Victorian times.

The vicar of St. Mary's, the Rev. James Coutts, believes Mr. Renie simply wanted something different. His gravestone is a point of quite considerable local interest as no one has seen anything like it before.

Renie was a painter and decorator in Monmouth and took over the family business at 12. He was a member of the Burgesses, a radical socialist political group. He fell ill while campaigning and died at 33 during the reign of William IV. His obituary said that he was an educated man of 'extraordinary natural abilities'.

A team of television researchers plan to feature the gravestones in a programme called 'Talking Stones'.