Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hidden Gems - Part 1

During our stay at the cottage we picked up some information about an area called 'The Holy Valley'.  This is 16 miles of over-grown single track roads from Crickhowell to Hay on Wye.  It passes a number of ancient churches, Llanthony Priory, then climbs through 'Gospel Pass' before descending to Hay.  Mark and I decided to travel home this way on Friday, rather than taking the busy roads past Abergavenny, Monmouth and Ross.  It took us almost four hours to complete the trip - but it was worth every minute..

I am fascinated by old churches. I love the way that the exterior rarely gives you any clue about the interior. The first church we visited on Friday was a perfect example. We had to make a slight detour from the valley bottom and drove up even more hair-raising tracks to find this gem...  Patricio Church - about 5 1/2 miles from Crickhowell.  This little church is 1000 years old.

The view from the porch, back down the valley to Crickhowell....

The interior - unchanged since the 15th Century.  The remote position of this little church ment that it's retained wall paintings and a fabulous rood screen...

A close up of the detail on the screen.  I couldn't get over just how fine the carving is...

And a medieval painting of death - in the north-west corner... 

After this amazing find we worked our way back down the lanes and on to Cwmyoy Church.  This church is worth visiting because of it's leaning tower...

Information inside the church explained that this tower leans by 5.7 degrees.  Apparently this is a more significant angle than the 'Leaning Tower of Pisa'.....!  The tower is so far out of vertical that only two of the bells can now be rung.  The chancel also leans downhill, away from the rest of the church.  The interior is fairly plain.

I'm going to post some pictures of Llanthony and our journey over the Gospel Pass tomorrow.  I hope that you've enjoyed these 'Hidden Gems' in the Black Mountains....


  1. Jan - what a beautiful post. Like you, I love old churches and these are two little gems. That rood screen is magnificent and I really like the leaning tower. Definitely puts those two on my list of places to visit.

  2. I have very much enjoyed your 'hidden gems' - I too love old churches as they have so much to tell us about the history of the communities they serve. I love your photos of the carving and wall painting:)

  3. I love old churches - we have many in this area. That painting is amazing and the work on that screen is incredible isn't it! Thank you for sharing these xxx

  4. The carving on the rood screen is amazing. There must be many little churches tucked away that not many people are aware of, these are definitely a couple of gems.

  5. What a beautiful interior to that church, it's gorgeous! Thanks for my little trip. Suzy x

  6. I love old churches too.I like the smell and the peace and quiet. My favourite church is the one at Bottesford, where my ancestors came from. It is very grand for a village church but it was where the nobility from Belvoir Castle used for christenings and burials etc.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed your hidden gems. I love how the daffodils just seem to grow wild. We drove from Dorstone (my cousin has ancestors buried at Dorstone so I was taking photos for her) to Much Dewchurch (where my Castree's are buried) then to Orcop and Garway Hill where my Eames family lived. The churches were fascinating.